THE members of Pontiﬁcal Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses that includes the national and local committees that are tasked to prepare for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress gathered in Plenary Assembly in Cebu City this April 24-28, 2015.Te Plenary convened around 82 international and local delegates of bishops, priests, religious and lay from 47 countries.
Foremost in the agenda of this signal gathering was the presentation of the theological and pastoral perspectives that will serve as the mooring of the forthcoming Eucharistic Congress that will be held on Jan. 24-31, 2016 in Cebu City. In the previous congress that was held in Dublin, Ireland in June 2012 the Eucharist was seen as “communion”. This time it will be seen as “mission”.
The Plenary pointed out that “the mission of the Church in Asia has to be undertaken in dialogue with the poor. This is because while the continent is rich in culture and its people are rich in human and religious values, a great multitude of them live in situations of poverty, powerlessness, marginalization, victimization and suffering ... They are poor not because their continent lack natural and material resources but because they are deprived of access to material goods and resources... Oppressive and unjust social, economic, and political structures keep them from enjoying the rich natural patrimony of their lands.”
The Holy Eucharist, which according to the theological reflections of the Plenary Assembly is the “Church’s dialogue with the poor” upholds the values that negate the causes of poverty such as selfishness and greed. “It calls into question apathy and individualism...it confronts oppressive totalitarian leaderships that put political and economic advantages above people...(it) challenges utilitarianism, consumerism, and materialism that treat the poor and the weak as commodities and tools...”
This theology, however, does not trickle yet into the perspectives and lives of most of the faithful. Perhaps the greater mission is to make the Eucharist understood by the greater majority of the faithful, who are mostly the poor, in the midst of natural or folk religiosity and fanaticism that blur the Eucharist from where it should be.