On the Feast of the Lateran Basilica

«With this feast, therefore, we profess, in the unity of the faith, the bond of communion that all the local Churches, spread throughouth the earth, has with the Church of Rome and with its Bishop, the successor to Peter.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today the liturgy recalls the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, the cathedral of Rome, that tradition defines as “the mother of all Churches of “Urbe et Orbe”[the City and the World]. The word “mother” refers not only to the sacred edifice of the Basilica, but to the work of the Holy Spirit that is manifested in this building, bearing fruit through the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, in all the communities that remain in unity with the Church which it presides over. This unity presents the nature of a universal family, and as there is a mother in a family, so does the venerated Cathedral of Lateran become a “mother” to the churches of all the communities of the Catholic world.

With this feast, therefore, we profess, in the unity of the faith, the bond of communion that all the local Churches, spread throughout the earth, has with the Church of Rome and with its Bishop, the successor to Peter.

Everytime we celebrate the dedication of a Church, one essential truth is recalled: the material temple made of bricks is a sign of the Church alive and active in history. Namely, it is that “spiritual temple”, as the apostle Peter says, of which Christ Himself is “the living stone, rejected by men but chosen and precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 2, 4-8). By virtue of Baptism, every Christian, as Saint Paul reminds us, is part of “God’s building” (1 Cor. 3,9). As a matter of fact, it becomes the Church of God!  The spiritual building, the Church community of men sanctified by the blood of Christ and by the Spirit of the Risen Lord, asks each one of us to be consistent with the gift of faith and to fulfill a path of Christian witness.

And it is not easy, we all know, the consistency in life between faith and witness; but we should go forward and have daily consistency in our lives. This is a Christian! Not so much for what he says, but for what he does, for the way in which he acts. This coherence, which gives us life, is a grace of the Holy Spirit that we should ask for.

The Church, in the beginning of its life and mission in the world, was nothing more than a community established to confess the faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Redeemer of mankind, a faith that works through charity. They go together!

Even today, the Church is called to be in the world a community that, rooted in Christ through Baptism, professes the faith in Him with humility and courage, while bearing witness to this in charity. Institutional elements, structures and pastoral organizations must be arranged to this fundamental purpose; to this essential aim: to give witness to faith through charity. Charity is precisely the expression of faith and faith is also the explanation and the foundation of charity!

Today’s feast invites us to reflect on the communion of all the Churches, that is of this Christian community.  By analogy it motivates us to strive so that humanity can overcome the barriers of hostility and indifference, to build bridges of understanding and dialogue, to make the whole world a family of people reconciled with each other, fraternal and harmonious.

The Church Herself is a sign and an anticipation of this new humanity, when it lives and spreads the Gospel with Her witness, a message of hope and reconciliation for all mankind. Let us invoke the intercession of the Most Blessed Mary, so that She may help us become like Her, a “house of God”, a living temple of His love.

After the Angelus, Pope Francis said the following: 

Dear brothers and sisters,

25 years ago, on November 9th, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, which for so long divided the city in two and was a symbol of the ideological division of Europe and of the whole world. The fall happened suddenly, but it was made possible by the long and arduous efforts of so many people who have fought, prayed and suffered for this, some even to the point of sacrificing their lives.

Among those, the saintly Pope John Paul II had a lead role. Let us pray so that, with the help of the Lord and the collaboration of all men and women of good will, a culture of encounter may continue to spread, capable of bringing down all the walls that still divide the world, and that never again will innocent people be persecuted and even killed because of their beliefs and their religion. Where there is a wall there is a closure of the heart. We need bridges, not walls!

Today, in Italy, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, with this year’s theme “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life”, which refers to the upcoming Expo Milano 2015. I join the Bishops in expressing a renewed commitment so that no one lacks food daily, which God gives to all. I am close to the world of agriculture, and encourage them to cultivate the earth in a sustainable and harmonious way.

In this context, a diocesan Day for the Care of Creation will take place in Rome, an event that aims to promote lifestyles based on respect for the environment, reaffirming the covenant between mankind, the guardians of creation, and its Creator.

I greet all the pilgrims who have come from different countries, parish groups, associations on this beautiful day that the Lord gives us.

In particular, I greet the representatives of the Venezuelan community in Italy – I can see your flag there -; the youth of Thiene (Vicenza) who have received Confirmation; the university students of Urbino, the faithful of Pontecagnano, Sant’Angelo in Formis, Borgonuovo e Pontecchio.

I wish all of you on this beautiful day a good Sunday, Please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation