Pope Francis opens new catechetical cycle on Holy Spirit’s role in salvation

Pope Francis general audience Pope Francis greets pilgrims as he arrives at his general audience on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. | Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis on Wednesday opened a new catechetical series during his weekly general audience, focusing on the theme of creation across history and the role of the Holy Spirit in the story of salvation. 

Titled “The Spirit and the Bride: The Holy Spirit Guides God’s People Toward Jesus Our Hope,” the new cycle will unfold across three main themes: the Old Testament, the New Testament, and “the time of the Church.” 

“The Spirit of God, who in the beginning transformed chaos into cosmos, is at work to bring about this transformation in every person,” the pope said during the general audience held May 29 in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis blesses a toddler during his general audience on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis blesses a toddler during his general audience on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

The first part of the series will begin with an overview of creation according to the Old Testament, but it will not be “biblical archaeology.” The pope explained that it will instead focus on how the promise given in the Old Testament “has been fully realized in Christ.”

“It will be like following the path of the sun from dawn to noon,” he added. 

Quoting from the first two verses from the Book of Genesis, Francis observed that “the Spirit of God appears to us here as the mysterious power that moves the world from its initial formless, deserted, and gloomy state to its ordered and harmonious state.” 

Pope Francis greets a newly married couple during his general audience on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets a newly married couple during his general audience on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

Referencing the division between the “confused” and the “beautiful and ordered,” Pope Francis observed that it is God who “makes the world pass from chaos to the cosmos.” 

The pope underscored the Holy Spirit’s role in creation and as a protagonist in the story of salvation by pointing to the Psalms and the New Testament. 

“The Apostle Paul introduces a new element into this relationship between the Holy Spirit and creation,” the pope said. “He speaks of a universe that ‘groans and suffers as in labor pains.’”

Pope Francis prays during his general audience on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis prays during his general audience on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

The pope emphasized that St. Paul understands the “cause of the suffering of creation in the corruption and sin of humanity,” which has alienated man from God and is a theme still present today. 

“We see the havoc that humanity has wrought and continues to wreak upon creation, especially that part of it that has greater capacity to exploit its resources,” the pope said.

The pope built upon this reflection by noting that there is both an internal as well as an external “chaos” inherent in man. 

Pope Francis greets young people during his general audience on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets young people during his general audience on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

“Around us we can say that there is external chaos, social chaos, political chaos,” the pope said. “We think of wars, we think of many boys and girls who don’t have anything to eat, of many social injustices — this is external chaos.” 

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At the end of the general audience Pope Francis renewed his regular appeal for peace and spoke for a moment on his emotional encounter with Ukrainian children last Saturday. 

“The other day I received boys and girls who suffered burns and lost their legs in the war,” the pope recalled in a somber tone. 

“War is always cruel. These boys and girls must start walking, moving with artificial arms ... they have lost their smile. It’s very bad, very sad when a child loses his smile. We pray for Ukrainian children.”

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