VATICAN CITY, APRIL 5, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI told those gathered for the general audience that “the Church of love is also the Church of truth.”
Addressing 30,000 people gathered today in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope dedicated his address to “the service of communion” in the Church.
In the catechesis, which continued with the series of meditations begun on March 15 on Jesus’ original plan for his Church, the Holy Father addressed the great paradox of Christianity.
On one hand, he said, “there is a profound relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Church”; on the other, this relationship “does not eliminate our humanity with all its weaknesses.”
Benedict XVI continued: “In this way the community of disciples experienced from the beginning not only the joy of the Holy Spirit, the grace of truth and love, but also trial, made up above all by the contrast between the truths of faith and the resulting lacerations of communion.
“Just as communion of love has existed from the beginning and will exist until the end, so, sadly, from the beginning division has also erupted. We must not be surprised by the fact that it exists also today.”
Doctrine of salvation
The Pope added: “The danger always exists, in the vicissitudes of the world and also in the weaknesses of the Church, of losing the faith and thus, of also losing love and fraternity.
“Therefore, it is a specific duty of those who believe in the Church of love and want to live in her, to recognize this danger also and to accept that communion is not possible with those who do not abide in the doctrine of salvation.”
“The Church of love is also the Church of truth, understood above all as fidelity to the Gospel entrusted by the Lord Jesus to his own,” the Holy Father observed.
Because of this, Benedict XVI indicated that “the family of the children of God needs someone who will keep them in the truth and guide them with wise and authoritative discernment: This is what the ministry of the apostles,” whose successors are the bishops, “is called to do.”
“The apostles and their successors therefore are custodians and authoritative witnesses of the deposit of faith given to the Church, and they are also the ministers of charity: two aspects that go together,” the Pope said.
This means that the pastors “must always think of the inseparable character of this double service, which in fact is the same: truth and charity, revealed and given by the Lord Jesus,” he continued.
“In this connection, they carry out above all a service of love: the charity they must live and promote cannot be separated from the truth they keep and transmit,” the Pontiff asserted. “Truth and love are two sides of the same gift, which proceeds from God and which, thanks to the apostolic ministry, is kept in the Church and comes to us in our present [time].”
Benedict XVI concluded by appealing for prayers “for the successors of the apostles, for all bishops, and for the Successors of Peter so that they will really be custodians of truth and at the same time of charity” and in this way “the light of truth and charity will never be extinguished in the Church and the world.”
A strong wind blew during the general audience. At one point, the Holy Father wrung applause from the faithful when he said: “The wind is not always identical to the Holy Spirit, but it can also make us think of the force of the Holy Spirit.”