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Pope explains definition of Church as 'People of God'

Catholic World News - June 12, 2013

“What does it mean to be the People of God?” Pope Francis asked at his weekly audience on June 12. As he neared the end of his midday address, the Pontiff offered an answer to his own question: “Being the Church, being the People of God, means being God’s leaven in this our humanity.”

Continuing his series of weekly talks on the nature of the Church, the Pope spoke about the phrase favored by Vatican II. By referring to the Church as the “People of God,” he remarked, the Council fathers emphasized the reality that “God doesn't belong to any particular people because He is the one who calls us.”

The Pope went on to say that ‘this invitation is addressed to all, without distinction, because God’s mercy wills everyone to be saved.” He suggested that anyone who feels alienated from the Church or from God should be encouraged to realized that “the Lord also calls you to be part of his people.”

Within the Church, the Pope said, the People of God are governed by “the law of love.” Decrying the conflicts that are so visible throughout the world today, he said: “We must ask the Lord to help us understand this law of love.” On a personal level, he encouraged the faithful to follow the law of love. “Praying for those we are angry with” can be an important step in that process, he said.

The mission of the People of God, the Pope continued, is “to bring God's hope and salvation to the world: to be a sign of the love of God who calls all to friendship with him.”

Following his catechetical address, the Pope called attention to the observance of the World Day Against Child Labor. “There are millions of children—mostly girls—who are victims of hidden form of exploitation that often involves abuse, mistreatment, and discrimination,” he said. “It is real slavery!” Children should be free to grow and learn in a quiet family environment, he said. “Woe to whomever stifles within them their joyful enthusiasm of hope!”

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