05/31/2009, 00.00
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Without the Spirit the Church would only be a humanitarian agency, says Pope

In front of a crowd of 30 thousand in St Peter’s Square, Benedict XVI underlines the “youth” of the Church which the Holy Spirit urges on to witness the Word made flesh and charity. A thought for the persecuted in the name of Christ, and the young people of Abruzzo.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “The Holy Spirit is the Soul of the Church”.  Without it the Church would only be “a humanitarian agency”, as it is often regarded by people who cannot see it with the eyes of the faith.  These were the Pope’s words today ahead of the Regina Caeli, marking the feast of Pentecost, which recalls the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples and Mary, gathered in the Upper Room

Before a sea of at least 30 thousand pilgrims gathered, Benedict XVI said: “the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church.  Without It what would the Church be reduced to? Certainly it would be a great historical movement, a complex and solid social institution, perhaps even a type of humanitarian agency.  In truth many regard the Church in this way because they observe it from outside the viewpoint of the faith.  Yet in reality, its true nature and its real historic presence has ceaselessly been guided and formed by the Spirit and the Lord.  It is a living body, whose vitality is, exactly the fruit of the invisible, divine Spirit”.

Today’s solemnity falls on the day in which the universal Church celebrates the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (May 31st). The pontiff inspired by this coincidence spoke of the youth of Mary and of the Church: “The young Mary, who is carrying Christ in her womb, forgets herself to run to the aid of others, she is a wonderful icon for the Church in the perennial youth of the Spirit, the Missionary Church of the Word Incarnate, called to bring it to the world and witness it particularly through charity”.

 “Let us invoke the intercession of Mary most Holy – concluded the pope – so the church of our time may be continually strengthened by the Holy Spirit.   May the ecclesial communities who suffer persecution for Christ feel the comforting presence of the Paraclite, so that by participating in the Lord’s suffering that may receive in abundance the Spirit of Glory. (ref 1 Pt 4,13-14)”.

Following the Marian prayer the pope spoke of the young people of Abruzzo (Italy) who will mark the Youth Day in this period.  “In communion with the young people of that land that was badly hit by the earthquake – he said – we asked the Risen Christ to send upon them his Spirit of consolation and of hope”.

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