During his weekly general audience Pope Francis spoke on the unity and holiness of the Church, stating that despite the fact we are sinners, we are called to live as a community centered on Christ.
“In a Christian community division is one of the most serious sins, because it does not allow God to act,” the Pope said in his Aug. 27 general audience address. “What God wants is that we be welcoming, that we forgive and love each other so as to become more and more like Him, who is communion and love.”
Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Roman Pontiff explained that as Catholics “we affirm in the Creed that the Church is one and that she is holy.”
“One because she has her origin in the Triune God, mystery of unity and full communion. Holy since she is founded by Jesus Christ, enlivened by his Holy Spirit, and filled with his love and salvation.”
We continue to refer to the Church as “one” and “holy” despite the fact that “we know by experience that it is also composed of sinners and that there is no shortage of divisions,” he said, recalling how the night before he was arrested Jesus “asked for the unity of his disciples: ‘that all be one.’”
“We trust in his desire that unity will be one of the characteristic features of our community,” the Pope continued, noting that “While we, the members of the Church, are sinners, the unity and holiness of the Church arise from God and call us daily to conversion.”
Observing how “We have an intercessor in Jesus, who prays…for our unity with him and the Father, and with each other,” the Bishop of Rome drew attention to the sins that often cause division.
“Sins against unity are not only schisms,” he said, “but also the most common weeds of our communities: envies, jealousies, antipathies...talking bad about others. This is human, but it is not Christian.”
These sins “which occur even in our parish communities,” Pope Francis continued, “come about when we place ourselves at the center.”
“God’s will, however, is that we grow in our capacity to welcome one another, to forgive and to love, and to resemble Jesus.”
Explaining how “It's the devil who separates, destroys relationships, sows prejudices,” the Pope affirmed that “the holiness of the Church” is “to recognize the image of God in one another.”
“The holiness of the Church consists of this: reproducing the image of God, rich in mercy and grace.”
Concluding his address, the Roman Pontiff prayed that all might “examine our consciences and ask forgiveness for the times when we have given rise to division or misunderstanding in our communities, and may our relationships mirror more beautifully and joyfully the unity of Jesus and the Father.”
Following his reflections Pope Francis greeted groups of pilgrims present from around the world, giving special notice to several Cuban bishops who have come for the enthronement of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, patroness of Cuba, in the Vatican Gardens tomorrow.
“I greet with affection all of the bishops from Cuba, who came to Rome for this occasion,” he said, “while at the same time I ask you to convey my closeness and blessing to all of the Cuban faithful.”