Cardinal Peter Erdo (r) – Photo: MTI

Bartholomew I: Eucharistic spirituality has power to transform society

Cardinal Erdo calls for unified testimony of Eastern, Western Christianity

The world today has a "desperate need" for a unified testimony of Eastern and Western Christianity, Cardinal Peter Erdo said in a mass celebrated during the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest on Saturday.

“Such is the will of Christ who prayed for His followers to be one,” Erdo said in Kossuth Square, in front of the parliament building.

Erdo thanked Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, for attending the congress, and called the Orthodox Church leader’s speech ahead of the mass an act “rich with symbolic meaning”.

He noted that Bartholomew I had canonised Saint Stephen in the Orthodox Church in Budapest in 2000, adding that Eastern and Western Christianity were still united at the time of the death of Hungary’s first king in 1038.

At the end of mass, Erdo presented a miniature of the congress’s symbol, a cross containing relics of saints from Hungary and neighbouring countries, to Archbishop of Quito Alfredo Jose Espinoza Mateus.

Ecuador will host the next Eucharistic Congress.

Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen; Miklos Soltesz, the state secretary for church and minority relations; and Bishop Tamas Fabiny of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, also attended the mass.

Participants at the mass filled the rows of chairs placed on Kossuth Square, and many also stood around the cordoned-off area and in the side streets leading to the square.

After the mass, tens of thousands walked in a candlelight procession to Heroes’ Square.

Bartholomew I: Eucharistic spirituality has power to transform society

Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, said eucharistic spirituality has the power to transform society and to meet the challenges of the 21st century in a speech in Budapest on Saturday.

In the speech delivered ahead of a celebration of holy mass during the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, the patriarch said that the church gathers believers in a “community of love” in the liturgy of the eucharist, with no regard to race, gender, age or cultural, social and material status.

The liturgy is not a meeting of individual believers but of a community of believers with God, a “social event”, he added.

He noted that the word eucharist means “thanks” in Greek.

“It reminds us that our lives and the entirety of creation are not our property but rather they are a precious gift of God the Creator. The proper response for receiving this gift is gratitude and doxology,” he said.

“The eucharistic spirit has a tremendous transformative power for society. This way of life is the correct answer to major contemporary challenges, such as ecological problems and the violation of human rights,” the patriarch said.

“In this sense, the initiatives of our church for the protection of the natural environment and the culture of solidarity were not an occasional reaction to the relative problems today, but they are rooted in the eucharistic experience and theology,” he added.

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