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A Look at 'Sacramentum Caritatis'

Interview With Cardinal Angelo Scola

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2007 (Zenit) - Benedict XVI's new apostolic exhortation is an important ecumenical document, says Cardinal Angelo Scola.

"Sacramentum Caritatis" (Sacrament of Charity) reflects the conclusions of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in Rome from Oct. 2 to 23, 2005. It was released Tuesday.

We spoke to Cardinal Scola, relator general of the synodal assembly, who highlighted certain elements of the document.

Q: Your Eminence, do you feel that there is a slight imbalance in the exhortation: on the one hand, encouraging a deeper look at the liturgy, aiming for a more active and fruitful participation of the faithful; and on the other hand, advising the use of Latin for international celebrations and encouraging Gregorian chant, leaving aside religious expressions perhaps closer to the people -- for example, African dancing and singing?

Cardinal Scola: We need to understand the logic underlying the entire exhortation. The Holy Father aims to outline all of the concrete characteristics so that the Eucharist will be the one Eucharist-act of God in Jesus Christ that involves all the faithful, whether in Sydney, or Milan or in Buenos Aires or in Kampala. But then, it also gives indications for those that are in these places to concretely put into practice the one rite.

Now, the fact that there is a very important paragraph on inculturation and that it says the episcopal conferences should continue to work with the dicasteries involved precisely answers this need.

Clearly, the job of a postsynodal exhortation is to center on everything that unites; it would be presumptuous for the Pope to say how inculturation in Africa should be or in India. The Holy Father recommends that the bishops who are there, in conjunction with the dicasteries, do this. So, in my opinion, the imbalance to which you refer does not exist.

Q: As to the topic of freedom of worship, the impression one gets is that concrete information is not furnished on how to favor the Eucharistic celebrations within those communities "where Christians are a minority or where they are denied religious freedom" -- No. 87. What are your thoughts?

Cardinal Scola: There also, one must distinguish what a postsynodal exhortation can do, in other words, a document that goes out to all the Churches in the world. It can only demand the fulfillment of principles and give suggestions. There is a reason that the Church always lives in two dimensions, the universal and the particular.

Therefore, it falls on those who are in a particular place -- embracing this principle of freedom of worship as an expression of freedom of religion which has been energetically highlighted -- to find the best ways of acting.

And we must not forget that the normal activities of the Holy Father and the Holy See also assist in these situations. If not, documents would have to go into such detail that we would need 2,000 pages to cover everything.

Q: How can the Eucharistic ecclesiology underlined in "Sacramentum Caritatis" guide the efforts made toward achieving the full and visible unity of all Christians?

Cardinal Scola: I believe that the exhortation has an incredible ecumenical value, because it understands the intrinsic link between the Eucharistic mystery, liturgical action and the new spiritual worship -- [for instance] No. 5. So on this topic, it coincides greatly with Orthodox sensitivity, but also goes toward our Protestant brothers and sisters.

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