Pope: "Eucharist is Not a Social Rite"


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(09 Dec 09 - RV) Today there is a danger that the Eucharistic is being reduced to a social rite, where we forget too easily that Christ is present in a true, real and substantial way in the Eucharist.

On Wednesday Pope Benedict said this was also a danger in the church of the Middle Ages, as seen in debates such as the Eucharistic controversy of 1077 that led to the condemnation of Berengar of Tours.

But, even though in the 12th century the doctrine of transubstantiation had not yet been formalised, there was a Benedictine monk from Belgium who had spelled it out in his writings. He was Rupert of Deutz and this Wednesday's chapter on the great thinkers of the Church in Middle Ages was entirely dedicated to him :

"Rupert experienced at first hand the conflict between the Empire and the Church linked to the investiture crisis, and he played a significant role in the principal theological debates of his day. He forcefully defended the reality of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist, and insisted that the origin of evil is to be found in man's mistaken use of freedom, not in the positive will of God".

An intellectual of great depth and insight, Rupert covered many heated topics of his day, topics noted Pope Benedict that remain cause for debate centuries later in today's world. The separation of Church and State, fidelity to the Petrine ministry and Church teaching, the infinite goodness of God and the origin of evil in man himself, and his misuse of human freedom. Pope Benedict also noted that Rupert was the first to present Mary as the "most exalted, best part of the Church".

"His teaching on the dignity and privileges of the Virgin Mary, presented within a broad ecclesiological context, would prove influential for later theology and find an echo in the doctrine of the Second Vatican Council".

His example concluded Pope Benedict, inspires us to draw near to Christ, present among us in his Word and in the Eucharist, and to rejoice in the knowledge that he remains with us at every moment of our lives and throughout history".