15 October 2015, The Tablet

Pope ‘must speak’ on theology of the Eucharist

Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, the relator of the German-language group at the Synod on the Family, said it is crucial that the Pope emphasises that the Eucharist is a “celebration of forgiveness”.

Speaking to katholisch.de at the end of the synod’s first week, the archbishop said he hoped for a “fundamental word” on basic theological issues such as the Eucharist as a celebration of forgiveness not only from the Synod, which was an advisory body without decision-making powers, but from Pope Francis himself.

“The Eucharist … is for people who need strengthening and uplifting. How can it be that someone who has experienced marriage breakdown may never again partake of the Eucharist? To my mind, it is essential for the synod to say a fundamental word on this and – to be more precise – for the Pope to speak out on this question as the synod is only the Pope’s advisory body”. Archbishop Koch said he would also like to see certain questions decided at the local Bishops’ Conference level. “When I think of all the different opinions I’ve been hearing, I cannot imagine all those questions being decided in Rome,” he said.

Asked if he expected more openness at the synod, Koch replied: “If a really open synod and an open exchange of opinion is desired, then we must learn to live with different suggestions, evaluations and views. Openness does not mean that in the end we will all be of one opinion. We must agree on essential matters – but I don’t see any discrepancies on those up to now.”

The question of homosexuality had hardly come up at the synod to date, Koch said. Moreover, he did not think that the synod could provide answers for all questions.

As a result of the “new method”, by which the synod participants had had a whole week to discuss the first part of the Instrumentum laboris in the different language groups, dialogue had been “intensive”, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the moderator of the German language group, said. Speaking to Vatican Radio, he said: “The feeling of frustration that I experienced at former synods seems to me to be completely missing and that in my eyes is tremendous progress.”

He said the absence of “violent arguments” was “perhaps due to the fact that the first part of the synod document is concerned with taking a look at the reality in which we live and there is certainly a lot of agreement on that”.

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