to a crowd of over 50,000 gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict
XVI used the occasion of his regular Wednesday audience to expound on
the idea of apostolic tradition, saying that the Church relies not only
on material information passed down through the centuries, but on the
effective presence of Jesus himself.
The Pope based his audience on the subject of Ecclesial communion as well as the broader concept of tradition.
"Ecclesial communion”, which is “aroused and sustained by the Holy Spirit, [and] safeguarded and promoted by the apostolic ministry - does not only extend to the believers of a particular historical period, but embraces all times and generations," said the Pope.
He added that "Thanks to the Paraclete, the early apostolic community was able to experience the Risen Lord. Successive generations do the same, as the faith is transmitted and lived through faith, worship and the communion of the People of God.”
The Holy Father likewise stressed that “This transmission of the 'things' of salvation is what constitutes the apostolic tradition of the Church." The Holy Spirit "actualizes the salvific presence of the Lord Jesus, through the ministry of the apostles ... and through the entire life of the people of the new covenant."
He then explained that “This ongoing actuality of the active presence of the Lord Jesus in His people - worked by the Holy Spirit and expressed in the Church through the apostolic ministry and fraternal communion - is the theological meaning of the term Tradition.”
This commonly used term, he clarified, “is not just a material transmission of what was originally given to the Apostles, but the effective presence of the Lord Jesus ... Who, in the Spirit, accompanies and guides the community He gathered."
"Tradition," the Pope said, concluding his address, "is the communion of the faithful around legitimate pastors over the course of history, a community nourished by the Holy Spirit.”
“It is”, he said, “the organic continuity of the Church, ... the permanent presence of the Savior Who comes out to meet, redeem and sanctify us in the Spirit."