Ecclesia de Eucharistia (Latin for Church of the Eucharist) is a Papal encyclical by Pope John Paul II published on April 17, 2003, the purpose of which is "to rekindle this Eucharistic 'amazement' […], in continuity with the Jubilee heritage which [he has] left to the Church in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte and its Marian crowning, Rosarium Virginis Mariae" and which he hoped "will effectively help to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice, so that the Eucharist will continue to shine forth in all its radiant mystery."
Table of contents
John Paul II dedicates the encyclical "to the bishops, priests and deacons, men and women in the consecrated life and all the lay faithful".
In the introduction John Paul II emphasises the importance of the Holy Eucharist in the Church:
- 1. The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. […] The Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is "the source and summit of the Christian life". […]
- 2. The Church was born of the paschal mystery. For this very reason the Eucharist, which is in an outstanding way the sacrament of the paschal mystery, stands at the centre of the Church's life. […]
- 9. The Eucharist, as Christ's saving presence in the community of the faithful and its spiritual food, is the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history.
He also expresses regret at the abandon of Eucharistic adoration and the stripping of its sacrificial meaning.
- 10. […] Unfortunately, alongside these lights, there are also shadows. In some places the practice of Eucharistic adoration has been almost completely abandoned. In various parts of the Church abuses have occurred, leading to confusion with regard to sound faith and Catholic doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament. At times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet. Furthermore, the necessity of the ministerial priesthood, grounded in apostolic succession, is at times obscured and the sacramental nature of the Eucharist is reduced to its mere effectiveness as a form of proclamation. This has led here and there to ecumenical initiatives which, albeit well-intentioned, indulge in Eucharistic practices contrary to the discipline by which the Church expresses her faith. How can we not express profound grief at all this? The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation.
He ends the introduction with the expression of his intention in the publication of the encyclical:
- It is my hope that the present Encyclical Letter will effectively help to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice, so that the Eucharist will continue to shine forth in all its radiant mystery.
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