Church unity and holiness call us daily to conversion, Francis says at general audience.
Division, he pointed out, is not only the result of schisms, but also the "parochial sins" such as "envies, jealousies, antipathies" and "idle gossip."
The Pope, who addressed approximately 15,000 people in the square, began with the sentence of the Creed that defines the Church as "one" and "holy."
"It is one because it has its origin in the Triune God, mystery of unity and full communion,” he said. “Then, the Church is holy, because it is founded on Jesus Christ, animated by His Holy Spirit, filled with His love and salvation. It is holy but at the same time made up of sinners, all of us, sinners, who experience our fragility and miseries everyday. So, this faith we profess pushes us to conversion, to have the courage to live out this unity and holiness each and every day, and if we are not united, if we are not holy, it is because we are not faithful to Jesus."
Noting that Christ prayed for unity on the night before he died on the cross, the Pope said that since the beginning, the Church has tried to realize this oneness. The Acts of the Apostles says the early Christians were distinguished by the fact they were of "one heart and one soul," and St. Paul urged the Corinthians not to forget that they are "one body."
"Experience, however, tells us that there are many sins against unity," the Pontiff said. "And don’t just think of schisms, but of the very common deficiencies in our communities, of our ‘parochial sins,’ of those sins in our parishes. Sometimes in fact, our parishes, called to be places of sharing and communion, are sadly marked by envy, jealousies, antipathies.
"We are all prone to gossip. How much we gossip in parishes!" he continued. "Is this a good thing or not? Is it good? If one man is elected president of an association, he is gossiped about. And if this other woman is put in charge of catechism, others gossip about her. This is not the Church? We must not do this: We should not do this, we should not do it! I’m not saying you should bite your tongue no, no, … But, ask the Lord for the grace not to do it."
He said disunity seeps in when people "aim to be at the top, when we put ourselves at the center, with our personal ambitions and our ways of seeing things, and judge others, when we look at the faults of others, rather than their talents, and when we give more weight to what divides us rather than what unites us."
"Faced with all of this, we must seriously examine our conscience," the Pope said. "In a Christian community,division is one of the most serious sins, because it is not a sign of God’s work, but the work of the devil, which is by definition, the one who separates, ruins relationships, insinuates prejudices … Division in a Christian community, whether a school, a parish or association, wherever, is a grave sin, because it is the work of the Devil. Instead, God wants us to grow in the ability to welcome, forgive and love one another, to look more and more like He who is communion and love. Therein lies the holiness of the Church in recognizing the image of God, filled with His mercy and His grace."
Reprinted courtesy of AsiaNews.
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