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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

General Audience: “divisions between Christians wound Christ”

Vatican City, 8 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning, punctual as always, the Holy Father entered St. Peter's Square in an open-top Jeep to greet the faithful in attendance at this Wednesday's general audience. He dedicated his catechesis to the “many brothers who share with us our faith in Christ, but who belong to other confessions or to traditions different to our own”. He emphasised that even today the relations between Christians of different confessions are not always characterised by respect and cordiality, and asked, “What is our current attitude to this situation? Are we indifferent or do we firmly believe that we can and must walk towards reconciliation and full communion?”.

The Pope emphasised that the divisions between Christians wound the Church and Christ, and remarked that Jesus wanted his disciples to remain united in His love. This unity was already under threat in Jesus' time, explained Pope Francis, and He urged his disciples to speak unanimously, so “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose”.

The bishop of Rome also mentioned that throughout history the devil has tempted the Church with the intention of dividing her. Unfortunately, the Church has been marked by serious and painful divisions that have at times been long-lasting, continuing until the present day. For this reason, “it is very difficult to reconstruct the reasons and, above all, to find possible solutions. … What is certain is that, in one way or another, behind all these lacerations there is always arrogance and selfishness, which are the cause of every disagreement and which make us intolerant, incapable of listening and of accepting those who have a vision or a position different from our own”.

“Now, faced with this, is there anything that we as members of the Holy Mother Church, can and should do? Without doubt there must be no lack of prayer, in continuity and in communion with Jesus. And together with prayer, the Lord asks of us a renewed openness: He asks us not to close ourselves against dialogue and encounter, but rather to accept all that is valid and positive that is offered to us even from those who think differently to us or who adopt different positions. Let us not focus on what divides us, but rather on that which unites us, seeking to know and love Christ better and to share the richness of His love. … We are divided against ourselves. However, we all have something in common: we believe in Jesus Christ, the Lord … in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We walk together, we are on the same path … let us help each other! Let us receive communion on the way. This is spiritual ecumenism: walking the path of life together in our faith in Jesus Christ the Lord”.

Continuing on the theme of communion, the Holy Father told the faithful present that today he is very thankful to the Lord, since it is seventy years since his first communion. “Receiving the First Communion means entering into communion with others, with our brothers in our Church, and also with all those who belong to different communities but who believe in Jesus”.

Francis concluded by encouraging all to walk together towards full unity. “History has separated us, but we are on the path to reconciliation and communion. And when it seems that our goal is too distant or we are discouraged, we may be comforted by the idea that God cannot cover His ears to the voice of His own Son, and cannot fail to respond to His prayer and ours, that all Christians are truly one”.

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