Church Is God´s Caress for Humanity, John Paul II Says

Must Never Let World Feel Forgotten, Pope Urges

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Church cannot be understood, if God´s love for man is not understood, John Paul II said today.



With almost mystical overtones, the Pontiff told the several thousand pilgrims gathered at the midweek general audience that the Church continues the mission of Christ.

Thus it "must let this supreme love shine through, reminding humanity -- which often feels alone and abandoned in the desolate moors of history -- that it will never be forgotten and deprived of the warmth of divine tenderness," the Holy Father said. He then quoted from the Book of Isaiah, where God asks: "Can a woman forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you."

"To be loved by Christ and to love him with a spousal love is constitutive of the mystery of the Church," the Pope explained. "This love molds the Church, radiating on all creatures. In this light it may be said that the Church is a sign raised among peoples to witness to the intensity of divine love revealed in Christ."

In understanding the origin of the Church, the love of God, one can better understand its mission, Peter´s Successor continued to explain. What is important is to spread love, he said.

"She does it proclaiming the commandment to love one another as Christ has loved us," he said. "And she is called to do so with the freshness of two spouses who love each other in the joy of giving themselves without reserve and in daily generosity, both when the sky of life is springlike and calm, as well as when night and the clouds of the winter of the spirit descend.

"This is the final goal of the Church, which advances with confidence in its historical pilgrimage, even if often feeling near her, according to the image of the same biblical book, the hostile and furious presence of another feminine figure, Babylon, the great prostitute, which incarnates the bestiality of hatred, death, and interior sterility."