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Eucharistic Congress is for the whole world

manila (SE): The International Eucharistic Congress scheduled to be held in Cebu from January 24 to 31 is an activity of the worldwide Church, not just The Philippines.

Luis Cardinal Tagle described it as being a search to find ways to address modern problems in the world, which can make a real difference, especially in the areas of violence and climate change.

“This is the power of the Eucharist and how to instill faithful love,” the archbishop of Manila said on December 14.

He pointed out that recent terror attacks in Europe have made people afraid to venture into public places or even take public transport.

“At a time when people are suspicious of each other, we need the Eucharist to discover a friend… that there is hope,” CBCP News reported him as saying. He added, “The Eucharist is the sacrament not of violence, but of love.”

Cardinal Tagle added that he believes that the Eucharist holds the key to environmental problems as well, as it can teach people to be more responsible.

He said that the Eucharist should radically affect the way in which people relate to creation, especially those affected by climate change.

“One thing is that the Eucharist starts from creation and blesses creation,” he said, asking, “Are we creating miracles in creation the way it happens in the Eucharist or are we destroying creation?”

He added, “There is a lot this congress can do to address our day-to-day fear and our concern for the environment.”

Archbishop José Palma, from the host diocese of the congress, said, “In recent years, Asia is the continent that has become one of the greatest engines of world growth from the economic and social point of view.”

However, he noted that from a religious point of view, it is still a continent where the Christian faith is mostly unknown and the Christian Church constitutes only a tiny minority, despite the fact that it is the continent where Jesus Christ was born, lived and died.

“The congress is not just a ritual. It should be lived. And living means to challenge ourselves to be truly converted,” Archbishop Palma said.

The Vatican press office announced on October 27 that the congress would run under the theme, Christ in you, our hope and glory: The Eucharist, source of goal of mission.

The president of the Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, Archbishop Piero Marini, said at a presentation at the Vatican, “The evangelical announcement and faith in the Lord Jesus professed by the Christian community are important and necessary for Asia.”

However, in stressing that the method of announcing the faith is of vital importance, he said that the programme of dialogue with cultures, religious traditions and the multitudes of poor people must remain at the centre of all Church activity.

These are the priorities of the Church in Asia spelled out by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences for the continent of Asia, which, as much as the Pearl of the Orient Seas, is the host of the worldwide Church for the upcoming Eucharist Congress.

“The Eucharistic congress then will go to Cebu to recall that mission is an exchange of gifts between those who announce and those who receive the evangelical message,” Archbishop Marini said.

He added that in going to the city of Cebu, which he called the cradle of Christianity in Asia, there must be a consciousness within the Church that the challenge is to be ready to evangelise and be evangelised, to speak and to listen, and give and receive.

Preparations for the congress, which is expected to draw some 10,000 visitors from around the world, are almost completed.

“I can say at this time... we are prepared,” UCAN reported Archbishop Palma as saying on December 14. “The preparation is practically done.”

Some 8,500 delegates from 71 countries have already registered for the congress and the auxiliary in Cebu, Bishop Dennis Villarojo, said, “That’s a good representation already,” and more are still coming in.

He described the congress as being an international gathering that aims to create and promote awareness of the place of the Eucharist in people’s daily lives.

Cardinal Tagle said that the most important thing is that it goes beyond the Catholic Church.

“We know there is a crying need for humanity today. Humanity calls for a gift of loving, forgiving, and we hope the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress may add to the Year of Mercy,” he said.

Charles Cardinal Maung Bo, from Yangon in the Union of Myanmar, will represent Pope Francis at the congress.

The Philippines last hosted an international congress in 1937 in Manila, during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI.


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