Pope Francis Reflects on the Catholicity of the Universal Church

Continues Catechesis on the Creed During Weekly General Audience

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves | 1840 hits

Tens of thousands of pilgrims braved the rainy weather in Rome to listen to the Holy Father’s catechesis during today’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Creed, focusing particularly on the Catholicity of the Church.

Speaking on the etymology of the word “Catholic”, which is derived from the Greek word “kath’olon” meaning “according to the whole”, the Holy Father said that this totality of the Church can be explained in three fundamental aspects.

“The Church is Catholic because it is the space, the home in which the entire faith is announced, in which the salvation that is brought to us by Christ is offered to all,” the Pope said explaining the first aspect.

The Church allows us to encounter the mercy of God that transforms us because Jesus Christ is present in it, it gives the true confession of faith, the fullness of the sacramental life, the authenticity of the ordained ministry. In the Church, each one of us finds what is necessary to believe, to live as Christians, to become saints, to walk in every place and in every age.”

Making a comparison to life in a family, the Holy Father went on to say that the Church gives all what is needed to grow and to mature in life. It is impossible to fully grow and mature alone, without the help of a community, a family. Pope Francis called on the faithful to reflect on whether they participate in the life of the community or close themselves in their own problems.

Commenting on the second fundamental aspect, the Pope told the pilgrims that the Church is catholic because it is “universal” and “announces the Gospel to every man and every woman.”

“The Church is not a group of elite, it does not regard only a few. The Church has no closure, it is sent to all people and of mankind. It is the only Church that is present in the smallest parts [of the world],” the Holy Father said.

To feel in communion with the whole Church, he continued, is to feel part of the greater mission of going out to announce the Gospel. To announce and give witness of the faith “is not a matter of a few, but concerns me, you, each and everyone of us.”

The Harmony of Church

The Church as a “House of harmony” among all was the final fundamental aspect of the Holy Father’s catechesis. The unity and diversity of the Church, he said, combine together to become a wealth.

Pope Francis compared this harmony to that a symphony that, while comprised of different instruments, join together to make a beautiful harmony. Each of their respective sounds is not lost, but rather accentuated in the music.

“It is a beautiful image that tells us that the Church is like a great orchestra in which there is variety, diversity among the components, but does not enter into conflict, it does not oppose, it is a variety that is allowed to meld in harmony by the Holy Spirit; it is He who is the true “Maestro”, it is He who is the harmony,” the Pope said.

“Let us pray that the Holy Spirit makes us more and more ‘Catholic’”.

Before concluding his address, the Holy Father greeted those present from various countries, in particular, the bishops of the Alexandrian Rite of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Before attending the General Audience, the prelates concelebrated Mass with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The Mass, which was held at the tomb of St. Peter, was offered for the victims of the tragedy at Lampedusa, many of whom belonged to the Alexandrian Rite.

Pope Francis expressed his “closeness in prayer and sorrow for so many children of their land who lost their lives in the tragedy of Lampedusa.”

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On ZENIT's webpage:

For the full text of the Holy Father's catechesis, go to: 

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/on-the-catholicity-of-the-church