Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The division in a Christian community, be it in a school, a parish or in an association, wherever, is a grave sin, because it is the devil's work", said Pope Francis today during his catechesis for the General Audience, pointing out that division is not only the result of schisms, but also the "parochial sins" such as "envies, jealousies, antipathies" and "idle gossip".
The Pope, who returned to St. Peter's Square for his weekly meeting with the faithful, in his address to approximately 15 thousand people present, began with the sentence of the Creed that defines the Church as "one" and "holy." "It is one - he said - because it has its origin in the Triune God, mystery of unity and full communion. 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, but 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. Yet he, Jesus, never abandons us, he never abandons His Church. He walks with us, He understands us. He understands our weaknesses, our sins, He forgives us, as long as we let ourselves be forgiven, right? He is always with us, helping us to become less sinful, more holy, more united".
"The first comfort comes from the fact that Jesus prayed a lot for the unity of His disciples. It is the prayer at the Last Supper, Jesus asked:' Father, that they may be one '. He prayed for unity. And this was on the eve of the Passion, when He was about to offer His life for us".
"'So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me " (Jn 17:21). Since the beginning, the Church has tried to realize this purpose which is so dear to Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles remind us that the early Christians were distinguished by the fact they were of "one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32), the apostle Paul also urged the community not to forget that they are "one body" (1 Cor 12:13)"."Experience, however, tells us that there are many sins against unity. 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! 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 so this, we should not do it! I'm not saying you should bite your tongue no, no, so no ... But, ask the Lord for the grace not to do it". "This happens when we 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 ... ".
"Once, in one of my previous dioceses, I heard an interesting and beautiful comment. We were speaking about an old woman who had worked in the parish all of her life, and a person who knew her well, said: 'This woman has never spoken ill of anyone, never gossiped, she had a smile for everyone. Such a woman should be made a saint tomorrow! This is a really beautiful, good example, don't you think? And if you look at the history of the Church, how many divisions among us Christians. Even now we are divided. Even in history, we Christians have made war against each other for theological divisions. Just think of the 30 year war. But, this is not Christian. Are we Christians or not? We are divided even now. Let us ask for the unity of all Christians, let us take the road of unity, it is what Jesus wants and what He prayed for".
"Faced with all of this, we must seriously examine our conscience. 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".
"Dear friends - concluded the Pope - let these words of Jesus resonate in our hearts:" Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God "(Mt 5,9). Let us sincerely ask for forgiveness for all the times in which we were the cause of division or misunderstanding within our communities, knowing that we can only arrive at communion through a constant conversion. And what is conversion? Lord, give me the grace not to speak ill, not to criticize, not to gossip, to wish only good for all. It is a grace that the Lord gives us. This is conversion of heart. And let us ask that the daily fabric of our relationships become a beautiful and joyful reflection of the relationship between Jesus and the Father".