|Porta del Popolo flanked by Saints Peter and Paul|
The Patrons of Rome
Recognition of the papacy does not belittle the role of Christ, the Head of the Church; it is rather a recognition of the triumphant power of his grace; it is a recognition of what he effects through human beings, of what only he can effect. It may be objected here that theoretically this is all fine and good, but how does it work on practice? How can we claim that our sole focus is Christ when the Pope is the visible focus of the Church's unity? The answer is perhaps nowhere so clearly evident as in the fundamental prayer of the Church, the Eucharist, in which the center of her life is not only expressed, but consummated day after day. Christ is profoundly and solely the center of the Eucharist. He prays for us, he puts his prayer on our lips, for only he can say "This is my Body...;this is my Blood". In this way he incorporates us into his life, into his act of eternal love. Following an ancient tradition, we, for our part, say at each celebration of the Eucharist: we celebrate it together with our Pope. Christ gives himself in the Eucharist and he is, in every place, the one Christ; therefore wherever the Eucharist is celebrated the whole mystery of the Church is present. Precisely because the whole, undivided, and indivisible Christ is present in the Eucharist, the Eucharist can be properly celebrated only when it is celebrated with the whole Church. We have Christ only when we have him with others. Because the Eucharist is solely about Christ, it is, for that reason, the sacrament of the Church. And, for the same reason, it can be celebrated only in the unity of the whole Church and with the fullness of her power. That is why the Pope has a place in the eucharistic prayer. Communion with him is communion with the whole; without it, there is no communion with Christ.
Joseph Ratzinger, Co-Workers of the Truth, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1992, entry for June 30, p. 209.