Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 2. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
City, 2 October 2013 (VIS) The holiness of the Church was the
theme chosen by Francis for his catechesis during today's general
audience, which took place in St. Peter's Square and was attended by
more than 50,000 people.
the Creed, after professing that the Church is “one”, the Pope
said, “we also confess that she is 'holy'; we thus affirm the
holiness of the Church, and this is a characteristic that has been
present ever since the beginning in the conscience of the first
Christians, who called themselves simply 'the holy', as they were
certain of the action of God, of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies the
he asked, “How can we say that the Church is holy, if we see that
the Church throughout history, during her long journey through the
centuries, has experienced many moments of darkness? How can a Church
be holy if she is made up of human beings, of sinners? Of men who are
sinners, women who are sinners, priests who are sinners, nuns who are
sinners, bishops who are sinners, cardinals who are sinners, popes
who are sinners? Everyone. How can a Church like this be holy?”
Church is holy because “she comes from God Who is holy, Who is
faithful to her and never abandons her to the power of death and
evil. She is holy because Jesus Christ, Saint of God, is indissolubly
united to her; she is holy because she is guided by the Holy Spirit
which purifies, transforms, and renews. She is not holy by our
merits, but because God makes her holy”.
could say to me: but the Church is made up of sinners, we see this
every day. And this is true: we are a Church of sinners, and we
sinners are called to let ourselves be transformed … by God.
Throughout history there has been the temptation to say: the Church
is just the Church of the pure, of those who are entirely coherent,
and the rest are to be cast aside. No! It's true! This is heresy...
The Church is holy, she does not refuse sinners; on the contrary, she
welcomes them, she is open even to those who are most distant, she
calls to all to allow themselves to be surrounded by the mercy,
tenderness, and forgiveness of the Father, Who offers to all the
opportunity to encounter Him and to walk the path to holiness. … Is
there anyone here who brings no sin with them? No, we all carry our
sins with us.”
the Church, the God we encounter “is not a ruthless judge, but is
like the Father in the Gospel parable. … The Lord wants us to be
part of a Church who knows how to extend her arms to welcome all, who
is not the house of few, but the home of all, where everyone can be
renewed, transformed and sanctified by His love; the strongest and
the weakest, sinners, the indifferent, the discouraged and the lost.
The Church offers to all the possibility of embarking on the road of
holiness, which is the road of the Christian”.
not be afraid of holiness”, concluded Francis, “of letting
yourself be loved and purified by God. … Let us allow God's
holiness be transmitted to us. Every Christian is called to holiness;
and holiness does not consist, first and foremost, in doing
extraordinary things, but rather in letting God act. It is the
encounter between our weakness and the strength of His grace”.