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Faith is never a purely private matter, Pope tells audience

Catholic World News - October 31, 2012

Christian faith is never an entirely private matter, Pope Benedict XVI told his weekly public audience on October 31.

"Certainly, the act of faith is an eminently personal act,” the Holy Father said, adding that an act of faith is “something which happens in the most intimate depths of my being.” But it cannot be regarded as private because faith is “the fruit of a relationship,” an acceptance of Jesus Christ.

Moreover, the Pope continued, “I cannot construct my personal faith in a private dialogue with Jesus, because faith is given to me by God through a believing community which is the Church.” He reminded his audience of the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Believing is an ecclesial act. The Church's faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith.”

The Church exists to support and spread the faith, the Pope said. He called attention to the fact that in the Acts of the Apostles, the members of the young Christian community are referred to as “saints.” The Pope observed: “Certainly, not all of them had the qualities necessary to be declared saints by the Church.” Still, by virtue of their faith, they were “called to become a point of reference for all the others,” bringing others to faith as well.

“This also holds true for us,” the Pope told his audience. Every Christian is called to bear witness to the faith, to participate in the work of evangelization. "The tendency, so widespread today, to relegate the faith to the private sphere, contradicts its very nature,” the Pope concluded.

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