.- 30,000 people were on hand in St. Peter’s Square this morning to hear Pope Benedict XVI as he chided those who break communion with and within the Church by abandoning truth and denying the faith.
The theme of his Wednesday audience this week was ‘Service to communion within the Church.’ It continues an ongoing catechesis series about the union of Christ and the Church in light of the apostles.
On a particularly windy day in Rome, the pontiff, at one point, was forced to hand his skullcap over to an aid to keep it from blowing away.
The Holy Father began by saying that "The source of the communion of the disciples, both with one another and with God, is the Spirit that pours the love of God into our hearts."
"Where the Church is,” he continued, quoting St. Irenaeus, “there is the Spirit of God, and where the Spirit is, there is the Church and all grace."
Benedict explained that "This intimate link with the Spirit does not eliminate our humanity with all its weaknesses, as the community of disciples is well aware." Proof of this, he added, is "constituted above all by the contrasts concerning the truth of faith and the subsequent lacerations of communion."
Citing the First Letter of John in the New Testament, the Pope said that “these potential tensions within the experience of communion” are nothing new.
"No voice in the New Testament”, he said, “rises with greater force to highlight the reality and the duty of fraternal love between Christians; yet the same voice addresses itself with drastic severity to the adversaries who were members of the community but are so no longer.”
“The Church of love”, he stressed, “is also the Church of truth, primarily understood as being faithful to the Gospel that Christ entrusted to His followers."
The Holy Father said that true communion "arises from a faith inspired by apostolic preaching, it is nourished by the breaking of bread and by prayer, and it is expressed in fraternal charity and in service.”
Because of this, “The Apostles and their successors are…the custodians and authoritative witnesses of the deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, just as they are also ministers of the charity revealed and donated by the Lord Jesus. In this way, theirs is above all a service of love; and the charity they live and promote is inseparable from the truth they defend and transmit.”
“Truth and love”, the Pope highlighted, “are two faces of the same gift that comes from God and that, thanks to the apostolic ministry, is safeguarded within the Church, reaching down to our own time."