Paranaque City, Philippines

Author: Fr. Angel S. Sanchez, SDB
Title: Pope Benedict XVI’s Eucharistic Theology Based on His Corpus Christi Homilies and the Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea: Toward a Melanesian Eucharistic Spirituality
Adviser: Fr. Rafael Dela Cruz, SDB, SThD
Degree: Master of Arts in Theology
Specialization: Sacramental Theology
Year: 2012


The Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of Christian life, holds a special place in the theology of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. This paper draws out the pope’s Eucharistic Theology and engages it in dialogue with the life of the people of Papua New Guinea to propose a Eucharistic Spirituality for Melanesians. It examines the Eucharistic Theology of Benedict XVI through collection and analysis of data, focusing on Church Documents especially the pope’s homilies on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi from 2005-2011. It also employs the experiences of the author as a missionary in Papua New Guinea.

Three recurring themes appear to be important elements of Benedict XVI’s Eucharistic Theology which can be integrated with Melanesian Spirituality through points of contact in their daily life. For a Eucharistic Spirituality to be effective to Papua New Guineans, it should flow from the ordinary, the daily, and the experiential. The first theme from the pope’s Eucharistic Theology is Communion—entering into communion with the living Lord and being gathered together by faith with our brothers and sisters. To the Melanesian, spiritual forces are always at work in the world. This awareness facilitates their understanding of the tremendous spiritual power in the Eucharist: the Spirit—the divine—makes communion with God and with one another possible. Liturgical songs can further lead them to experience the sphere of the divine, given their aptitude in music. The second is Transformation—becoming conformed to Christ as his body to participate in his redemptive work. In a culture plagued with tribal conflicts, the Cross and the Eucharist’s power to transform violence and hatred to an act of love, its capacity to make one a life-giving bread for others is the key to overcoming rascalism and domestic violence. And the third is Social Dimension—seeing Jesus in others, especially the poor, and bringing Christ to every person we encounter. The fact that Eucharistic spirituality embraces our whole life ought to resonate with Melanesians who find the spiritual in all spheres of life. The bread they receive in holy communion should thus empower them to help ease the burdens of their society by, for example, bringing comfort to people with malaria and HIV/AIDS or taking concrete steps to protect the ecology.

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