Ich bleibe hier im Blog noch ein wenig beim Thema Eucharistie, Anlass ist der Eucharistische Weltkongress, der zur Zeit in Dublin stattfindet. Zugegeben ein Ereignis, was in unseren Breiten nicht so wirklich wahrgenommen wird, aber es ist doch ein schöner Anlass, sich mit diesem Thema etwas vertiefend zu befassen.
Und das auch aus ökumenischer Perspektive. Kardinal Kurt Koch, Präsident des Päpstlichen Ökumenerates, hat bei einem Vortrag in Dublin vor Beginn des Kongresses dargelegt, wieso die Katholische Kirche immer noch Nein sagt, wenn es um die Frage der Interkommunion geht, also um die Teilnahme von Nichtkatholiken an der Eucharistie. Stefan Kempis hat das für das Radio zusammengefasst und ich übernehme das hier für den Blog.
„Die orthodoxe wie die protestantische Sicht der Kirche, die vom Gottesdienst ausgeht, steht nicht prinzipiell im Widerspruch zum katholischen Verständnis von Kirche.“ Das hat der Schweizer Kurien-Kardinal Kurt Koch am Freitag betont. Die Ekklesiologie von Orthodoxen wie Protestanten „lassen sich tatsächlich in eine breitere katholische Sicht integrieren“, so Koch. Schnittstelle zwischen protestantischem und katholischem Kirchenverständnis sei die Überzeugung, „dass in einer eucharistischen Versammlung die Kirche zur Gänze anwesend ist“; allerdings fügten Katholiken noch hinzu, dass eine eucharistische Versammlung „nicht die ganze Kirche“ sei. Aus katholischer Sicht müßten Gemeinden, die die Eucharistie feiern, untereinander, mit ihrem Bischof und dem Papst in Gemeinschaft stehen; das sei „konstitutiv für das Kirchesein“.
Der Primat des Papstes ist aus Kochs Sicht „keine juristische oder rein äußere Hinzufügung zu einer eucharistischen Kirchensicht, sondern gründet in der Lehre von der Kirche selbst“: Schließlich erfordere eine Kirche, die aus „einem weltweiten Netzwerk von Eucharistie-Versammlungen besteht und sich darin ausdrückt, auch einen Einheitsdienst auf weltweiter Ebene“. Darauf habe schon der heilige Ignatius von Antiochien in seinem Römerbrief aus dem Jahr 110 hingewiesen. Kardinal Koch wörtlich: „Ignatius schreibt der römischen Kirche den Vorsitz in der Liebe zu. Das Wort Liebe, Agape, war aber seit den Tagen der Urkirche ein Begriff für das Geheimnis der Eucharistie.“
Wegen der „engen Verbindung von Eucharistie und Kirche“ halte die katholische Kirche „wie die Mehrheit der christlichen Kirchen überhaupt am Prinzip der unauflöslichen Einheit von kirchlicher und eucharistischer Gemeinschaft fest“ – das sagte der „Ökumeneminister“ des Vatikans mit Blick auf Forderungen nach sogenannter „eucharistischer Gastfreundschaft“. Diese Betonung der Einheit von kirchlicher und eucharistischer Gemeinschaft sei übrigens bis zur Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts „von einem breiten ökumenischen Konsens getragen“ worden. Auch die aus der Reformation entstandenen „Kirchen und kirchlichen Gemeinschaften“ hätten diesen Konsens geteilt; so habe es ja auch zwischen Lutheranern und Reformierten trotz einheitlicher Rechtfertigungslehre keine Abendmahlsgemeinschaft gegeben. Das habe sich erst mit der Leuenberger Einigung von 1973 geändert.
Mittlerweile hätten „nicht wenige protestantische Gemeinschaften“ den Eindruck, das ökumenische Ziel sei nicht etwa die volle kirchliche Einheit, sondern die eucharistische Interkommunion. Dem widerspreche die katholische Kirche entschieden: „Wie schon in der Urkirche kann es ohne kirchliche Gemeinschaft keine echte eucharistische Gemeinschaft geben und umgekehrt.“ Interkommunion liege am Ende, nicht am Beginn des ökumenischen Wegs, so der Kardinal.
Und wer sich für den gesamten Vortrag interessiert, kann in hier nachlesen:
The Relation between the Eucharist andEcclesial Communion: An Ecumenical View
KURT CARDINAL KOCH
1. Communio ecclesiology as eucharistic ecclesiology
“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn 1:3). In this profoundly significant sentence from the First Letter of John we find all the essential dimensions of the Christian understanding of communio. This key theological concept has in the reception of the Second Vatican Council constantly been applied to describe more clearly the essential nature of the Christian Church. The extraordinary Bishops’ Synod of 1985 above all, which undertook to evaluate the position of the church 20 years after the Council, took up the conciliar initiatives towards a renewed communio ecclesiology and followed them to their logical conclusion by merging conciliar ecclesiology with the fundamental concept of “communio”. This term can therefore serve as a synthesis of conciliar ecclesiology, to the extent that in it one can discern its new and at the same time totally original thrust, the “real heart of Vatican II on the Church”.
According to this conciliar view, based on John, the point of departure for all communio is the encounter with Jesus Christ as the Son of God become flesh. In this encounter, communion also emerges between human beings, grounded in the communion with the Triune God. Both meanings of communio receive their clearest expression and realisation at the same time in the celebration of the eucharist, as is very beautifully expressed in the subject of this year’s Eucharistic Congress: “The Eucharist, communion with Christ and with one another”. In the eucharist not only the individual Christian is united with the resurrected Christ himself, present as the body of Christ in the form of bread: those participating in the eucharist are also united in communion with one another through the shared reception of the body of Christ. Eucharistic communio is not only to be understood and enacted personally as the participation of the faithful in the resurrected Christ, but also ecclesially as communion of the faithful with one another in Christ. Therefore it has a profound significance that the current expression for the reception of the eucharistic gift in the Roman Catholic tradition is “Communion”. The church arises and exists through the resurrected Christ communicating himself to human beings, entering into communion with them and thus bringing them into communion with one another: “The church is the communication of the Lord with us, which at the same time creates the true communication of human beings with one another. Therefore church in each instance comes into being around an altar.”
Ecclesial communio is most profoundly eucharistic communio, and the eucharist is quintessentially the sacrament of communio. Conciliar communio ecclesiology is therefore intrinsically eucharistic ecclesiology. At its core it signifies that the “body of Christ” as the eucharistic gift, and the “body of Christ” as ecclesial communion between the baptised, form a single indivisible sacrament. This indivisible unity of church and eucharist has deep biblical roots which already at Jesus’ Last Supper become clearly apparent. The communion character of the Last Supper, and with it the root of the ecclesial dimension of the eucharist, finds expression firstly in the rite of breaking bread, which refers back to the then common praxis of opening the meal each time with the breaking of bread. Since by the breaking of bread all who receive a piece of the broken bread are bonded into a communion, the broken bread is a sign of the communion of those sharing the meal. Whoever receives a piece of bread belongs to God’s communion of blessing. In this tradition Jesus’ breaking of bread signifies and lays the foundation of the new Chabura, and with it the church in nuce of the Israel gathered by Jesus. This intention of Jesus’ Last Supper becomes even more apparent in the rite of sharing the one cup, which is the image of the painful destiny of one individual. Accordingly, drinking from the common cup is the sign of profound solidarity in the communion of destiny. It is above all on the basis of the interpretive words of Jesus of the “blood of the covenant” that is “shed for many”, as preserved in the Markan–Matthian tradition, that Jesus’ Last Supper is comprehensible as “making a covenant: it is the prolongation of the Sinai covenant, which is not abrogated but renewed”. As the conclusion of the covenant, Jesus’ Last Supper is the foundation of God’s covenant relationship with the disciples of Jesus, with whom he is in blood communion, which is at the same time communion with God.
In the New Testament it is Paul above all who substantially deepens the indivisible vital connection between eucharistic and ecclesial communion. In the tenth chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthians he found a succinct expression for this by applying the term “Christ’s body” to both the eucharistic gift and ecclesial communion: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:16–17). How important the indissoluble link between eucharist and ecclesial communion is for Paul can be inferred above all from the fact that he – in contrast to all other New Testament Lord’s Supper traditions – reverses the order of the words about the bread and the cup, or more precisely, places the word about cup before the word about bread. The reason for this striking and individual procedure can only lie in the fact that Paul can thereby express more clearly the connection between eucharist and ecclesial communion. He switches immediately from “the body of Christ”, in which the eucharistic bread grants participation, to the “body of Christ” which is the church. Thus he makes it intelligible that the building up of the church occurs through the eucharist, and the unity of the many faithful in the one church comes from the one eucharistic bread and thus from the one Christ: because Christ is one, the eucharistic bread is also only one; and because the faithful partake of communion with the one Christ through this one bread, the church too can only be one.
This emphatic stress by Paul on the ecclesial dimension of the eucharist found its natural continuation with the Church Fathers. This is true above all of Augustine, who apprehended the vital connection between the eucharist and the church so profoundly that he was able to condense it into the incisive formula: “If you therefore are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving!… You should be what you see and should receive what you are.” The eucharist is therefore for Augustine the “sign of unity and the bond of charity”. In the same sense Pope Leo the Great also declared: “We are assimilated into that which we receive.” Thus it is absolutely clear that that one cannot dissociate the nature of the eucharistic sacrament as Christ’s body from the nature of ecclesial communio as Christ’s body, without at the same time effecting the dissolution of both the church and the eucharistic sacrament.
In view of this great biblical and patristic tradition, one cannot of course deny that this character of the eucharist as ecclesial communio has regrettably not always been maintained in the history of the church, but was instead allowed to fade out and sink into oblivion. It was above all the great French theologian Henri de Lubac who demonstrated persuasively that the connection between the sacramental body of Christ and the ecclesial body of Christ was largely lost during the second Lord’s Supper controversy in the 11th century. The consequences of this development must be perceived in the fateful individualisation or even privatisation of the understanding and enactment of the eucharist, which is still in effect today in the general consciousness of not a few Catholics. By contrast we owe it to the Second Vatican Council that it was able to overcome this one–sided development and once more root ecclesial communion in eucharistic communion, as the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church emphasises: “Truly partaking in the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with him and with one another.”
2. Liturgical concentration of the understanding of the church
When one observes the fundamental significance of this revitalisation of the ecclesial dimension of the eucharist, in the first instance it seems logical in regard to eucharistic communio to speak above all of a threefold communion, as summed up in the liturgical language of the Eucharistic Prayer, and surely most clearly in the third Eucharistic Prayer, which the Catholic theologian Medard Kehl rightly termed “the liturgical celebration of hope”.
At the beginning of the Epiclesis before the eucharistic Institution Narrative, firstly the ultimate gathering of the whole church is professed, and at the same time the ecclesiological dimension of the fulfilment is given expression: “Until the end of the age you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting, a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.” This petition expresses the Christian faith conviction that God himself in the present and the future (“Until the end of the age”) desires to gather a universal people (“from the rising of the sun to its setting”) for the celebration of the eucharist (“pure sacrifice may be offered to your name”). What is particularly striking about this liturgical text is that it speaks in the present tense: “You gather a people to yourself.” That is intended to make it clear that the ultimate gathering of the church, which will in time achieve its fulfilment, takes place in the present and is now eucharistic presence. The eucharistic “Memento ecclesiae” therefore involves communion with the whole church and its visible and definable unity with the local Bishop and the Bishop of Rome as the primate of the universal church. Naming the names of the local Bishop and the Pope in the eucharistic prayer gives visible expression and affirmation to the fact that the one eucharist is truly being celebrated, which is only possible in the one church. The reference to the local Bishop and the Pope is an “expression of the communio within which the individual eucharistic celebration, by its own intrinsic nature, alone derives meaning”.
The communal dimension of the eschatological hope and its anticipation in the eucharist is seen, according to the institution narrative, as incorporation at the end of time into the already accomplished “communion of saints” in heaven. In the “memento sanctorum” we give expression to our faith conviction that celebrating the eucharist already now grants firm assurance in the fulfilment of our participation in Christ’s resurrection, which can however only reach its goal in communion with all who have already attained that fulfilment.
All who have died are also drawn into this communion of saints in the “memento mortuorum”, in the prayer for God’s mercy on them and for their admittance into the glory of the Father. This Prayer refers back to the biblical image of the feast in the perfected kingdom of God, which the people who are now celebrating the eucharist will share eternally after their death, and underscores once more the communal dimension of the fulfilment and its anticipation in the eucharist.
Memento ecclesiae, memento sanctorum and memento mortuorum: this threefold memento, which is more precisely to be understood as the “verbal representation of the community of sacrifice and communion, transcending space and time”, gives expression in liturgical language to the indivisible unity of ecclesial and eucharistic communion; and it becomes absolutely clear that for the Christian faith a liturgical concentration is characteristic for the understanding of the church, in the sense that church is church in worship, and indeed above all in the eucharist. When Paul speaks of the Lord’s Supper he generally begins with the words “When you come together as a church” (1 Cor 11:18). Celebrating the eucharist is essentially coming together. Accordingly, one of the oldest terms for the eucharist is synaxis, which means the assembling and coming together of the people of God. In its essential core the church is eucharistic assembly, and the church is above all there where the eucharist is celebrated, as Pope Benedict unambiguously stated already in a very early publication: “It is only participation in the Eucharistic liturgical assembly that makes a person a true member of the Christian fraternal community. If a man never takes part in the brotherly meal of Christians he cannot be considered as belonging to the brotherhood. The brotherly community of the Christians consists of those, and only those, who come with at least a certain regularity to share in the Eucharistic celebration.”
Eucharistic ecclesiology, which perceives the essence of the church in the worshipping assembly, is at its core already present in the term with which the nascent church defined itself. With reference to the Jewish synagogue it gave itself the name “ekklesia”. This word denotes in profane Greek language the general assembly of a political community, and in the language of faith the assembled community of the Israelite people. It is distinguished from the former above all by the fact that in the Greek polis the men came together in order to pass resolutions, while the people of Israel came together not to pass resolutions itself, but to attentively hear what God had decided and then give its assent. In Israel the Sinai assembly, where God communicated his commandments to the people, therefore became the primal and normative image for all other assemblies of the people. When the nascent church defined itself as ekklesia against the background of this tradition, it gave expression to its faith conviction that Jesus Christ is the new and true Sinai, and all who gather around him form the final gathering of God’s people, which of course becomes church only through being gathered anew by Christ and by the Spirit in the eucharist, and is therefore God’s people only because it is constantly renewed through the body of Christ. On the basis of the eucharist, ekklesia is “not only like the body of Christ, it is the body of Christ because it owes its existence to the salvific working of the re-awakened crucified One, is filled with his pneumatic presence and placed by him in the service of reconciliation”.
3. Eucharistic ecclesiology in ecumenical dialogue
The Christian understanding of the church is characterised by a liturgical or more precisely a eucharistic concentration. There is a broad ecumenical consensus on this. Eucharistic ecclesiology has of course been given a distinctive individual stamp by each of the various Christian churches and ecclesial communities, and one must bear these in mind in order that the existing ecumenical consensus can be extended and deepened.
A eucharistic ecclesiology was in the first instance developed by Russian Orthodox theologians in exile in Paris after the First World War, in fact in deliberate opposition to what they claimed to be the centralism of the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church. In this Orthodox view the church of Jesus Christ is present and realised in each local church, gathered around its bishop, where the eucharist is celebrated. Because the local church celebrating the eucharist with its bishop is understood as the representation, actualisation and realisation of the one church in its concrete location, each eucharistic community is wholly church and lacks nothing beyond itself. Therefore the unity of the eucharistic community with other communities celebrating the eucharist is ultimately an extrinsic dimension, and the horizontal unity of local churches between one another is not considered constitutive for being church, at least not in the sense that it must necessarily exist. Such a unity is indeed recognised as beautiful and certainly pertaining to the fullness of the church, but is in the end not constitutive. This applies a fortiori to a potential unity of the individual eucharistic communities with the Bishop of Rome, because on principle there can on no account be any priority of the universal church over the local churches.
The Reformation tradition too takes the liturgical concentration as the starting point of its understanding of the church, taking its classical form in the definition of the Confessio Augustana, according to which the church is the assembly of the faithful in which the gospel is preached in its purity and the sacraments are administered according to the gospel. Since this occurs concretely in the local congregation, according to the Protestant concept the church of Jesus Christ not only subsists in the concrete individual congregation, but the congregation is in fact considered the prototypical realisation of the church. Herein lies the principal reason why the Protestant understanding of the church too is totally focussed on the congregation in its specific location, as can be demonstrated already in the thinking of the Reformer Martin Luther. In the desolation of the times he was no longer able to discern the spirit of Christ in the whole of the Catholic Church. Nor did he of course perceive “church” in the theological sense of the word in the Protestant state churches which gradually formed during his lifetime. Instead he considered them sociological–political entities necessary for specific purposes and under the leadership of political powers, in the absence of other authorities. He declared the term “church” as such a negative concept, and used the word “congregation” (Gemeinde) to give expression to its essential theological nature. Following the line of this tradition, the Protestant understanding of church today finds its unequivocal focus and its centre of gravity in the concrete local congregation: the church of Jesus Christ in its fullest sense is present in the concrete congregation assembled in worship around the word and sacrament. The individual communities do in fact also engage in exchange with one another according to Protestant understanding, and to that extent the supra-congregational aspect of the church exists implicitly, but it is of an external nature and therefore secondary, and that applies absolutely also to the dimension of the universal church.
Both the Orthodox and the Protestant ecclesiologies, oriented in worship, do not in principle stand in opposition to the Catholic understanding of church in any way; they can in fact be integrated into a broader Catholic view. Catholic theology undoubtedly shares with the Orthodox a eucharistic ecclesiology which “includes the individual responsibility of each community”; it is differentiated from it in the emphasis on a eucharistic ecclesiology which “excludes self–sufficiency and requires the location within the whole”. With Protestant theology too the Catholic understanding of church shares the conviction that the church is wholly present in the specific eucharistic community; but it is differentiated from it in the conviction that the individual eucharistic community is not the whole church.
In the Catholic view, the unity of the individual eucharistic communities with one another and in communion with the respective bishop and the Bishop of Rome as the Pontiff of the universal church is constitutive for being church. The basis of this view is the Christological and eucharistic theological conviction that the body of Christ, present in the eucharist of the individual local community, unites the participants with all others who believe in Jesus Christ and are joined with his body through baptism and eucharist, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger emphatically highlighted: “Christ is everywhere whole… At the same time Christ is everywhere only one, so I can have the one Lord only in the unity He is, in the unity of all those who are also His Body and through the eucharist must evermore become it. Therefore the reciprocal unity of all those communities who celebrate the eucharist is not something external added to eucharistic ecclesiology but rather its internal condition.”
This “internal condition” also applies with regard to the connection with the Bishop of Rome, since his primacy is not simply a juridical and certainly not purely an external supplement to eucharistic ecclesiology, but is grounded in that ecclesiology itself, in so far as the church which represents and realises itself as a worldwide network of eucharistic communities also requires at the universal level a ministry of unity with full authority. The papacy can ultimately only be understood from the perspective of this world–wide eucharistic network. It is therefore an abiding essential element of the church, because it stands in the service of the eucharistic unity of the church and bears the responsibility for the church as it continually takes its measure from the eucharist. This interconnectedness of the Petrine office and the eucharist was expressed already in early times by St Ignatius of Antioch, when in his Letter to the Romans in the year 110 he designated the cathedra of the Bishop of Rome as that church which has “the primacy in love”. Since in the early church the word ”love” – “Agape” – was also a term for the mystery of the eucharist, through which Christ’s love for his church can be experienced with particular intensity, it becomes apparent that the Bishop of Rome exercises his special responsibility above all in living “the primacy in love”, and binding all the local churches of the whole world with one another into a universal church in the eucharist.
It is only from the perspective of the eucharist that the deepest essence of the church becomes visible: each local church that celebrates the eucharist is wholly church, but no local church is the whole church. It is in fact only really church when it stands in relationship with all local churches celebrating the eucharist, and in unity with the primacy in love. This catholic – in its original sense – dimension of the eucharist found clear expression in the Early Church in the so-called ‘Communion letters’ which were known as litterae communicatoriae and litterae pacis: any Christian who went travelling carried with him such a certificate from his eucharistic community, made out by his bishop. With it he not only found refuge with every Christian community, but also nurtured the communion in the body of Christ as the centre of eucharistic hospitality. On the basis of the eucharist the Christian is at home in every Christian community, and on the same basis the belonging to the eucharistic communion – which is the belonging to the church – is universal: anyone who belongs to one local church belongs at the same time to all. Partaking of the eucharist implies incorporation into the one Christ and therewith the becoming–one of all communicants in the universal communion of the church.
4. Ecclesial and eucharistic communion in ecumenical perspective
That perspective also illuminates the ecumenically thorny problem of eucharistic communion, which represents a sore point in every eucharistic ecclesiology. Because for the Roman Catholic Church the intrinsic relationship of eucharist and church is fundamental, she holds fast – like the majority of Christian churches – to the principle of the indissoluble unity of ecclesial communion and eucharistic communion, which at one time, until the middle of the 20th century, represented a broad ecumenical consensus. The churches and ecclesial communities that emerged from the Reformation also shared this consensus, which can readily be inferred from the fact that there was no fellowship in the Lord’s Supper between the Lutheran and Reformed churches despite the already existing unity in the doctrine of justification. The churches of the Reformation only departed from this ecumenical consensus in the 70s of the previous century, or more precisely with the Leuenberger Concord of 1973. For not a few Protestant communities it was possible to gain the impression that the ecumenical goal does not consist in the restoration of ecclesial communio but in eucharistic intercommunion, and “if this is achieved, all the rest could remain as it was”.
By contrast the Roman Catholic Church holds firmly to the conviction, alive already in the Early Church, that there can be no true eucharistic fellowship without ecclesial communion, and without the eucharist no full ecclesial communion. In the light of the sacramental understanding of the church it is not possible to separate from one another communion with Christ, ecclesial communion, and eucharistic communion; they must instead be apprehended in their intrinsic unity. This is the most profound reason that in the Catholic view the goal of all ecumenical endeavours cannot consist in the first instance in so-called intercommunion, but only in the restoration of ecclesial communio, “within which the communion in the Lord’s Supper also has its place”. Cardinal Karl Lehmann has therefore rightly warned against “dissolving and as it were dismembering a certain harmony and cohesion of ecclesial unity and communion in the Lord’s Supper”; and he draws from that the conclusion: “The shared Supper belongs as a whole at the end and not at the beginning of ecumenical endeavours.”
This view becomes intelligible only against the background of the relationship between baptism and eucharist in the view of the Second Vatican Council. The Decree on Ecumenism sees on the one hand the foundation of the affiliation of all Christians with the church in baptism, which constitutes “the sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been reborn by means of it”. On the other hand, baptism is however “only a beginning, a point of departure, for it is wholly directed toward the acquiring of fullness of life in Christ” and “oriented toward a complete profession of faith, a complete incorporation into the system of salvation such as Christ himself willed it to be, and finally toward a complete participation in Eucharistic communion”. Whereas baptism grants a fundamental but incomplete communion between Christians and is to that extent the sacramental bond of unity, it remains on the other hand oriented toward the shared profession of faith and the celebration of the eucharist as the fullness and climax of ecclesial unity.
This definition of the relationship between baptism and eucharist provides a precise definition of the position of ecumenism today, located between the fundamental communion of the sacramental bond of baptism on the one hand, and the not yet possible full communion in the eucharist on the other. This location obligates all Christians and churches to take baptism seriously and on the basis of this shared foundation mature in ecumenical rapprochement, so that the hour can approach in which we can take our place together at the table of the Lord. Only then would an ecumenical eucharistic ecclesiology be possible. It would then no longer be a wounded but a healed and hallowed eucharistic ecclesiology, towards which our ecumenical path must remain directed.
(c) Radio Vaticana