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Pope to sign Eucharist encyclical tonight

Describing it as the "fulcrum of the entire liturgical year", Pope John Paul II is to begin this year's Holy Week Triduum this evening by signing his 14th encyclical letter.

"While the Chrism Mass," he said at yesterday's General Audience at the Vatican, "which is normally celebrated Holy Thursday morning, especially emphasises the priestly ministry, the rites of the Mass of the Lord's Supper are a pressing invitation to contemplate the Eucharist, the central mystery of Christian life and faith.

The Pope announced earlier this month that he plans to sign the encyclical during tonight's ceremony in place of his usual Holy Thursday Letter to Priests.

The encyclical "is centered on the intrinsic value and importance for the Church of the sacrament that Jesus left us as a living memorial of his death and resurrection," the Pope said.

"In this text I intend to give every believer an organic reflection on the Eucharistic sacrifice that gathers within it the entire spiritual good of the Church."

Italian Archbishop Angelo Comastri - who was chosen by the Pope to preach the Lenten Retreat for the Roman Curia this year - revealed in yesterday's edition of the weekly Famiglia Cristiana that the encyclical contains a message on the ecumenical implications of the Eucharist

"The Pope does not underestimate the difficulties among the different Christian confessions today," he said. "But he expresses, with new vigor his great desire" that full communion might be restored.

Vatican Information Service/Catholic World News

Pope, at Audience, Reflects on Eucharist, Triduum (Catholic World News)
Eucharist Encyclical due out on Holy Thursday (2/4/03)

17 Apr 2003