06/19/2013, 00.00
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Pope: the Church is the "body of Christ", let's not harm it with divisions, personal interests and "gossip"

At the general audience Francis appeals for migrants and their families and to "bear witness to the Gospel of life." "All together, all together with our differences, but united, united forever, that is the path of Jesus! Unity is beyond all conflict, unity is a grace that we must ask the Lord." Seek unity even among evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Seek unity which "is always above and beyond conflict, in order  "not to hurt the Church with the spirit of division, of selfishness, of "gossip", "how much damage gossip does, how greatly divisions hurt the Church". Unity of the Church, the "Body of Christ", that has Christ as its head, was the focus of Pope Francis Wednesday audience with 70 thousand people today in St. Peter's Square which, included, as usual, a long tour in his white jeep. On a hot and sunny day, the Pope repeatedly recommended parents, with gestures, to cover the head of the little ones. He even went as far as to gift one little boy with a green baseball cap that had been given him, one of the many small gifts pilgrim had brought him.

The audience was also the occasion for the Pope to launch an appeal for refugees - tomorrow is World Refugee Day - and their families, "often forced to leave their home and their homeland quickly, to leave all they own and every security, to flee from violence, persecution or grave discrimination on religious, ethnic or political grounds". The dangers of the journey, he added, are coupled to those of family "disintegration". " We cannot be insensitive to the families and to all our brothers and sisters refugees: we are called to help them, opening up to understanding and hospitality. May people and institutions around the world never fail to assist them: their face, is the face of Christ".  Francis also returned to direct "an invitation to all to accept and bear witness to the 'Gospel of life', to promote and defend life in all its dimensions and in all its phases. A Christian is someone who says 'yes' 'to life, saying' yes' to the Living God".

Previously, in catechesis for the general audience, continuing to illustrate the definitions of the Church offered by the Second Vatican Council, Francis spoke of the Church "body of Christ", from the description given by St. Paul. "The image of the body helps us to understand this deep bond: the Church is first of all a body If you separate the head of the body the body cannot survive, this tells us that we must remain united".  In speaking of the Church as the "body," he added, we are called to understand that the Church is " is not an charitable, cultural or political association, but a living Body, that walks and acts in history. And this Body has a head, Jesus, who guides, nourishes and supports it".  And like in a body, "the head and limbs must be united to survive." Unity that " dull uniformity, but the richness of the gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes". " Let us remember this well: being part of the Church means being united to Christ and receiving from Him the divine life that makes us live as Christians; it means remaining united to the Pope and the Bishops who are instruments of unity and communion, and also means overcoming personal interests and divisions, in order to understand each other better, to harmonize the variety and richness of each member; in a word, to love God and the people who are next to us more, in the family, in the parish, in the associations". " We must not travel the path of division, of conflict among us, no we must all be united - with our differences - but united because that is the path of Jesus! Unity is beyond all conflict. Unity is a grace that we must ask of the Lord so he may save us from the temptations of the division, from internal struggles and selfishness, from gossip. How much damage gossip does! How much damage! Never gossip about others, never!".

"How much damage divisions among Christians, being partisan, narrow interests causes to the Church,! Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity. Let me tell you something, today, before leaving home, I spent 40 minutes more or less, half an hour, with an evangelical pastor. And we prayed together, seeking unity. But we Catholics must pray with each other and other Christians. Pray that the Lord gift us unity! Unity among ourselves! How will we ever have unity among Christians if we are not capable of having it among us Catholics,...in the family, how many families fight and split up?".

"Dear brothers and sisters - he concluded - let us ask God to help us to be members of the Body of the Church always deeply united to Christ, help us not to hurt the Body of the Church with our conflicts, our divisions, selfishness: help us to be living members bound to each other by a single power, that of love, which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts".


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