Eucharist and Reconciliation

The birth-pains of reconciliation in the Church

At their 1979 meeting in London, the leaders of the Jesus Caritas Fraternity of Priests in Europe decided to come to Belfast for their 1980 meeting. The theme chosen for 1980 was "The Fraternity and the Poor" and the intention was to meet in Innsbruck. The decision to come to the war-zone of Northern Ireland arose out of a sudden and shared intuition among those present that since war was the greatest form of all poverty, Belfast was the place to gather. During that Belfast meeting I experienced, as never before in my life, the pain and the shame of division in the Church.

When Martin Huthman from Bonn stood with our Anglican brother, Bill Godfrey, and shared his exclusion from Holy Communion at the final Eucharist, I was overcome by a devastating shame at what we had done to Bill. When I tried to speak a prayer about it, I broke down in a sobbing I couldn't control.

Over the years since then the tears have flowed many times - in Ireland, in Jerusalem, in the Chapel of Unity at Vittorchiano, Italy, where Blessed Gabriella of Unity is buried. They have been tears for the division of the Church and for the shame of spilt blood. "Divided Churches cost lives"

Zachariah prophesied:

"When that day comes, over the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem I shall pour out a spirit of grace and prayer, and they will look to me. They will mourn for the one whom they have pierced as though for an only child, and weep for him as people weep for a first-born child. A fountain will be opened to wash sin and impurity away ".(Chapter 12).

God does not ask success but rather that we be faithful in seeking the unity of his family, the communion of all people.