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The 'Church of sinners' remains holy, Pope tells audience

October 02, 2013

Continuing his series of weekly talks on the nature of the Church, Pope Francis assured his weekly audience on October 2 that the Church is holy although “we are a Church of sinners.”

“How can a Church be holy if she is made up of human beings, of sinners?” the Holy Father asked the 50,000 people who had gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday public audience. He answered:

The Church is holy because “she comes from God Who is holy, Who is faithful to her and never abandons her to the power of death and evil. She is holy because Jesus Christ, Saint of God, is indissolubly united to her; she is holy because she is guided by the Holy Spirit which purifies, transforms, and renews. She is not holy by our merits, but because God makes her holy.

The earliest Christians sometimes referred to themselves as “the holy,” the Pope observed, because they recognized the action of the Holy Spirit upon them. In the same way the Church is holy, despite “many moments of darkness,” because of God’s grace.

The Pope strongly condemned the notion that “the Church is just the Church of the pure,” and the undeserving should be excluded. “This is heresy,” he said, noting that every Christian is scarred by sin. The Church, he said, allows us to “be renewed, transformed and sanctified by His love-- the strongest and the weakest, sinners, the indifferent, the discouraged and the lost.” “Do not be afraid of holiness,” the Pope said as he concluded his remarks, saying that holiness can be seen as “the encounter between our weakness and the strength of God’s grace.”


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