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Cardinal Arinze explains tough stand on Eucharist

Describing the Eucharist as "Christ himself", Cardinal Francis Arinze has said the sacrament is "the greatest treasure that the Church has on earth".

"Is it any wonder if the Church is careful to protect and guard the celebration of this august mystery?" he asked.

Cardinal Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, was speaking in an interview published in the Zenit electronic news service on Wednesday.

The context of his remarks was recent publication of the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" on matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Eucharist. The Instruction has variously precipitated and backed up the tough stand of certain bishops in the United States who are threatening to deny the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who fail to incorporate Catholic teaching in leglisation.

Cardinal Arinze admitted that the Church had allowed the lax attitude to the Eucharist to develop in recent decades, explaining that the new instruction is designed to strengthen reverence for the Eucharist.

He also signalled a revival of worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, including in visits to the Blessed Sacrament and in Eucharistic holy hours, Benediction, processions and congresses.

The comments of Cardinal Arinze follow last week's announcement by the Australian bishops that they will be embarking upon a "broad renewal and education with regard to the Eucharist" that will include a pastoral letter on the Eucharist.

Cardinal Arinze Explains Reasons for Instruction on Eucharist (Zenit 26/5/04)

Bishops act to refresh Australian Church with Eucharist focus (CathNews 21/5/04)

28 May 2004