Continuing his catechesis on the Church, Pope Francis reflected on the unity of the Church during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. Over 50,000 pilgrims from all over the world gathered to hear the Holy Father who told them that despite so many diocese diocese, languages and cultures are spread throughout the world, “the thousands of Catholic communities form a unity.”
“How can this happen?” the Pope asked.
“One concise answer can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,which states: the Catholic Church spread throughout the world “has one faith, one sacramental life, one apostolic succession, one common hope, the same charity,” the Holy Father stated.
This unity in faith, hope and love, he continued, is what holds together “the great edifice of the Church.” No matter where the Church is located, be it in Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia or Oceania, the Church is one.
“It is like a family: they may be far away, spread throughout the world, but the profound ties that unite all the members of the family remain steadfast no matter the distance,” the Pope said.
“I think of the experience of the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro,” the Pope said, “in that vast throng of youth on the beach of Copacabana, you could hear them speak so many languages, you could see many different facial traits among them, many different cultures met, yet there was a profound unity, one Church was formed, they were united and it could be felt.”
However, the Holy Father stated that it is possible to wound this unity within the Church. At times conflicts, tensions, and divisions, which causes the Church to not manifest love and unity.
“If we see the division that exist now between Christians, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, we feel the effort to make this unity fully visible,” the Pope said.
“We must seek to build communion […] to overcome misunderstandings and divisions, beginning with the family, from the ecclesial reality, in ecumenical dialogue. Our world needs unity.”
Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask themselves whether they help in growing unity in their own families, parishes and community.
The Holy Spirit is the motor of this unity in the Church and not of our own efforts or strength. The Holy Father stressed the importance of prayer which he called “the soul of our commitment to men and women of communion, of unity.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask the Lord for the gift of always remaining united and to not be instruments of division. Paraphrasing the prayer of St. Francis, the Holy Father prayed that we may “bring love where there is hate, to bring forgiveness where there is injury, to bring unity where there is discord.”