Sep 25, 2011 / 10:12 am
Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged German Catholics to remain faithful to the unity of the Church. He warned that those Catholics who view the Church as a mere institution are often further from God than agnostics.
“The Church in Germany will continue to be a blessing for the entire Catholic world: if she remains faithfully united with the Successors of St. Peter and the Apostles,” the Pope said at an open-air Sept. 25 Mass in the German city of Freiburg.
Pope Benedict updated the warning of Christ that “tax collectors and harlots” were closer to God than the Pharisees, offering a version “translated into the language of our time.”
“Agnostics, who are constantly exercised by the question of God, those who long for a pure heart but suffer on account of our sin, are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is ‘routine’ and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting their hearts be touched by faith,” said the Pope.
Sunday was Pope Benedict’s last day of his state visit to Germany. Unlike Berlin and Erfurt, his previous destinations over the past four days, Freiburg is overwhelming Catholic. This was evident in the huge numbers at this morning’s Mass, held beneath blue skies and sunshine. Concelebrating with the Pope were the bishops of Germany’s 27 dioceses.