Catholic Church must always be universal, Pope proclaims on Pentecost


Pentecost reminds us as Christians of the universality and unity of the Church, Pope Benedict said during Mass on Sunday. The Church, he stated, must always be Catholic and universal, “the home of all in which each person can find himself again.”

The Holy Father presided over Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, concelebrating with 30 cardinals and 50 bishops and archbishops, to the accompaniment of Sistine Chapel Choir.

Pentecost, said Pope Benedict during his homily, invites us as a Church to make the invocation “Come Holy Spirit!” with particular intensity, calling for “the gift that Jesus asked and continually asks of the Father for his friends.”

It is “the first and principal gift that he obtained for us with his Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven,” the Pope explained.

“From the Son of God dead, risen and returned to the Father now blows over humankind, with unparalleled energy, the divine breath, the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Father went on to describe the effects of this “new and powerful self-communication of God” in the world.

Where there is distress and detachment, the Holy Spirit creates unity and comprehension in the world, reunifying the human family in its divisions, and opening those in competition to communion, thus making of them “a new organism, a new subject: the Church.”

“This, in effect, is the work of God: unity; therefore unity is the sign of recognition, the ‘business card’ of the Church in the course of its universal history,” the Pope said.

In this “criteria of unity and universality,” observed the Holy Father, the Universal Church, one and Catholic, rises over all others, which “must always conform themselves to it” and “harmonize themselves with it.”

It is never a “prisoner” to political, racial and cultural limitations, he continued, and should not be confused with state or federal unions, because “its unity is of a different type and aspires to cross all human borders.”

Wrapping up his reflection on unity and universality in the Church, Pope Benedict emphasized that “Always and in every place the Church must be truly Catholic and universal, the home of all in which each person can find himself again.”

In his extensive homily, the Holy Father also spoke eloquently of the difference between the fire of God, the Spirit, which doesn't destroy but illuminates the way for humanity, and the fire of war and bombs, "lit by dictators of every age ... who leave the land burned behind them."

The Holy Spirit, he said, is "a flame that burns but doesn't destroy."

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