An ecumenical Corpus Christi?

On the 6th of June, the Sunday after the feast of Corpus Christi (this year on 3 June), the annual Corpus Christi will again be held on Amsterdam. According to Msgr. Willem Schnell, the rector of the Our Lady Church from which the procession starts, this specific procession is unique among Corpus Christi processions because of its ecumenical nature. Representatives from the Armenian, Coptic and Ethiopian Churches have already participated in the past, and this year they will be joined by a Serbian Orthodox delegation. The major thing these various faith Churches have in common is their belief in the Eucharist as the actual Body and Blood and Jesus Christ.

According to Msgr. Schnell, procession are a well-known element of Catholic life, but virtually unknown among the Orthodox. That makes it even more exceptional that they are joining in this procession.

In Amsterdam, Bishop Jos Punt and his Auxiliary Bishop Jan van Burgsteden will be carrying a consecrated host, forming the core of the procession. They will be joined by Archbishop François Bacquè, the nuncio to the Netherlands, and Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Polycarpos Augin Aydin, whose community also uses the Our Lady Church.

In a period where relations between Rome and Moscow/Constantinople are steadily warming up (albeit with some bumps in the road), this is a nice little extra. On the local level, Catholic and Orthodox faithful find each other and discover they share a lot. A hopeful sign.

A photo from the procession in 2007: Bishop Punt carries the Blessed Sacrament. Behind him, at right, are visible the nuncio, Archbishop Bacqué, and Greek Orthdox Bishop Maximos, representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinopel.