Church Is God's Gift to Humanity, Says Pope

Calls Church a Mystery of Love at Service of Man

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2011 ( The Church isn’t a philanthropical organization, but it is capable of making the world a more human place because it opens its sails «to the breath of the Holy Spirit,» says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made this observation Saturday when he received in audience a group of several thousand pilgrims from the southern Italian Diocese of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti.

The diocese is having a local synod, and the Holy Father spoke of this occasion as an opportunity to experience the Church as a pilgrim people.

«This signifies recognizing that the Church does not possess in herself a life-giving principle, but depends on Christ, of whom she is the sign and effective instrument,» he said. «In the relationship with the Lord Jesus she finds her own most profound identity: to be gift of God to humanity, prolonging the presence and work of salvation of the Son of God through the Holy Spirit. In this context we understand that the Church is essentially a mystery of love at the service of humanity in view of its sanctification.»

Citing the Second Vatican Council, the Pontiff said that the Word of God «has really created a people, a community; it has created a common joy, a common pilgrimage toward the Lord.»

The Church isn’t a fruit of human organizational skills, he said, «but finds its source and its real meaning in the communion of love of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: This eternal love is the source from which the Church springs.»

The unity and diversity of the Trinity is its model, molding the Church «as a mystery of communion,» he added.

The Bishop of Rome said that any failure to keep sight of this vertical dimension of the Church would alter its identity and make life poorer.

«It is important to stress that the Church is not a social, philanthropic organization, as so many others are: She is the Community of God, the Community that believes, that loves, that adores the Lord Jesus and opens her ‘sails’ to the breath of the Holy Spirit, and because of this, she is a Community capable of evangelizing and humanizing,» he said.

Benedict XVI spoke of men and women of today who need to encounter God.

He reflected on God’s call to «make it understood that it is good to live as man,» noting the «complex attitudes» that mark the present moment in history: «Withdrawal into oneself, narcissism, desire to possess and to consume, feelings and affections bereft of responsibility.»

The Pope said that behind all this is a «a negation of the transcendent dimension of man and of the fundamental relationship with God» and he said that in such a context, the Christian community must «promote sound and demanding journeys of faith.»

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