BY ED WEST
POPE BENEDICT XVI has said that he is anxious for the Church to produce a document on the Eucharist following last year's Synod of world bishops on the subject.
Speaking to the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops — a committee of specially chosen representatives, including Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, established to finalise the key decisions of last year's historic Synod of world bishops — the Pope revealed that Vatican officials were "working on" a document in the light of Synodal discussions on the Sacrament and the liturgy. "They will not take long," he said. The Pontiff praised the Secretariat for its "competence" in drawing together the issues discussed during the Synod, which was entitled: "The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church".
The three-week meeting took place at the Vatican in October and was the first major event of Benedict XVI's reign and the largest gathering of bishops since the funeral of John Paul II in April last year.
The Pope promised that the text resulting from the Synod would be "one of those interventions to nourish the people of God with the food of truth, to help them grow in the truth and above all to make the mystery of the Eucharist known and to invite [them] to an intense Eucharistic life."
He added: "At a time characterised by the growing phenomenon of globalisation, it is increasingly necessary to have the truth of Christ and of his Gospel of salvation reach all with vigour and clarity."
Several contentious subjects were raised during the Synod, such the issue of married priests, the exclusion of divorced and civilly re-married people from the Sacraments, the dignity of Mass celebration, ecumenism and the role of the Eucharist in politics.
The Synod bishops acknowledged that the exclusion of divorcees and Chris
tians of other denominations from Communion was "a delicate pastoral problem". They also welcomed shifting Protestant attitudes towards the importance of the Eucharist.
The Synod said that the ordination of married priests was not the solution to the shortage of vocations.
Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice, stoutly rejected the idea, which he said treated the Church as a "business which needs to be equipped with a determined quota of team managers".
The discussions were inspired by the Instrumentum Laboris, a working paper based on a wide-ranging survey of the laity, which dealt with several issues associated with the decline
of the dignity of liturgical worship, such as the use of profane music in Church, the improper distribution of Communion and the lack of befitting dress during Mass.
The bishops also debated the merits of inculturation, or how far local culture and customs should influence Catholic worship, as well as the question of whether politicians who supported abortion should be barred from Communion.
At the Synod's opening Mass, Pope Benedict urged the bishops to bring God back into public life and condemned secular morality as a "a tolerance which allows God as a private opinion but which excludes Him from public life, from the reality of the world and our lives, that is not tolerance but hypocrisy." He also described the lives of secular, lapsed Catholics as "vinegar rather than wine"..
At last week's "postsynodal meeting", the Pope spoke to his audience of prelates about the duties of being a diocesan bishop. He said that bishops must care for their flocks with "a ministry of watchful love that calls for total dedication, complete commitment of energy and, if necessary, the sacrifice of life".
A bishop, Pope Benedict added, "represents the image of Christ, who nourishes us with his Flesh and Blood". He also said that bishops, as heads of their dioceses, had a duty to "dispense the food of truth" to his people.