(Vatican Radio) The 51st International Eucharistic Congress is taking place in Cebu, Philippines drawing thousands of delegates from around the globe to reflect on the central role of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.
Among those attending the week-long event is the Vatican’s top diplomat at the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Bernardito Auza. Archbishop Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the UN in New York, is Filipino himself so his visit to Cebu is a return home.
He tells our correspondent in Cebu, Sean Patrick Lovett, that the centrality of the Eucharist in the Catholic faith is directly related to issues of international political concern such as hunger, poverty and human rights.
Listen to Sean Patrick Lovett's interview with Archbishop Auza:
Archbishop Auza says he has been pleasantly surprised to hear so many of the week’s discussions centre on hunger and cultural and interreligious dialogue to name a few of the social justice themes on the agenda. “The question of justice, the question of the environment, all of these things are the biggest themes which are also discussed at the United Nations,” he adds.
The Holy See and the Catholic Church, he observes, have much to contribute to the International community and to the United Nations by way of offering a unique religious perspective, and new points of view to dialogue on issues of global concern.
He stresses that all these universal concerns are coming “into our reflection on the Eucharist” in Cebu.
Hunger, interfaith dialogue, social justice “from the perspective of the Eucharist”
Viewing hunger and cultural and interfaith dialogue “from the perspective of the Eucharist,” he notes, “could be very, very interesting and surprising at the same time but indeed for us, [the Eucharist] is …the source, also the inspiration of our participation in the international community. And it is from that particular perspective - our religious perspective - that the international community is also very interested in our participation, in our point of view. That’s why the Holy Father practically opened the [UN] Summit this year on the 2030 Development Agenda where the number one goal is to eradicate hunger and eliminate extreme poverty.”
Bringing love for the Eucharist into dialogue with other faiths
The Vatican Nuncio recounts how the Eucharist “is always available to people” in the Philippines where almost every church, he says, offers 24/7 Eucharistic adoration or other alternatives for veneration if a chapel should be closed. “So bringing this great love of the Eucharist also to the social justice concern to eradicate hunger, eradicate extreme poverty - to bring this love for the Eucharist into the question of dialogue with culture, dialogue with other religions, is something that really expands our vision and also expands our love and our own idea of the Eucharist. So we see the Eucharist as the source also of all these dialogues: that we have to go out into the world and try to be useful, try to be friendly, try to live with others in a harmonious manner.”