Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, said eucharistic spirituality has the power to transform society and to meet the challenges of the 21st century in a speech in Budapest on Saturday. In the speech delivered ahead of a celebration of holy mass during the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, the patriarch said that the church gathers believers in a “community of love” in the liturgy of the eucharist, with no regard to race, gender, age or cultural, social and material status. The liturgy is not a meeting of individual believers but of a community of believers with God, a “social event”, he added. He noted that the word eucharist means “thanks” in Greek. “It reminds us that our lives and the entirety of creation are not our property but rather they are a precious gift of God the Creator. The proper response for receiving this gift is gratitude and doxology,” he said. “The eucharistic spirit has a tremendous transformative power for society. This way of life is the correct answer to major contemporary challenges, such as ecological problems and the violation of human rights,” the patriarch said. “In this sense, the initiatives of our church for the protection of the natural environment and the culture of solidarity were not an occasional reaction to the relative problems today, but they are rooted in the eucharistic experience and theology,” he added.