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Pope emphasizes: ‘you cannot love God outside of the Church’

June 25, 2014

Pope Francis continued his series of Wednesday general audiences on the Church and emphasized that belonging to the Church is essential to being a Christian.

“We are Christians because we belong to the Church," Pope Francis said. “It’s like a last name: if the first name is ‘I am a Christian,’ the last name is ‘I belong to the Church.’”

“No one becomes a Christian by himself,” the Pope continued, as he explained that Christians receive their faith in baptism and through catechesis. He asked those assembled in St. Peter’s Square to recall the faces of parents, grandparents, priests, nuns, and others who taught them the sign of the cross, prayers, and the content of the faith. “I always remember the face of the nun who taught me catechism,” he said, as he called the Church “a large family.”

“There are those who believe you can have a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside of the communion and the mediation of the Church,” he continued. “These are dangerous and harmful temptations.”

The Pope concluded by asking the Virgin Mary to pray “the grace never to fall into the temptation” of thinking that we do not need the Church. “On the contrary, you cannot love God without loving the brothers, you cannot love God outside of the Church; you cannot be in communion with God without being in the Church.”


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  • Posted by: cvm46470 - Jun. 26, 2014 7:13 PM ET USA

    RE: NY Times...I agree. I had many friends remark on the "who am I to judge" comment that they read in the newspapers, but it's been strangely silent on this, and other recent comments, by the Pope.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 26, 2014 4:43 PM ET USA

    How does his Holiness define "the Church?" I have relatives who recently began attending Episcopal services and had their son take his "first communion" (not a recognized sacrament in the Episcopal Church) there, and they contend that they have not left "the Church" because that term includes ALL Christian denominations. They make the case that there is no difference between the Catholic Church and other Christian sects, and they site the Holy Father's desire for "unity" as proof.

  • Posted by: JimKcda - Jun. 26, 2014 12:27 AM ET USA

    First, did the translator do the Pope justice? Did the Pope say or mean "Christian" or "Catholic"? Secondly, this reminds me of the 1950's controversy, "no salvation outside the Church." As I recall, Pope Pius XII addressed it in his encyclical "The Mystical Body of Christ." PPXII listed those in the Church to include persons baptized by water, blood, desire and others mysteriously known only to God. (Maybe Osteen is "in the Church".) Perhaps Dr. Jeff or Phil could develop this thought.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 25, 2014 5:04 PM ET USA

    Not sure why the Pope didn't say this to Joel Osteen and some other Protestants who visited with him just a couple.of weeks ago. To them he was very accomodating to their "I'm not Catholic" attitude.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 25, 2014 10:37 AM ET USA

    Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus seems to fit nicely.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jun. 25, 2014 9:21 AM ET USA

    I looked for this headline in today's NY Times, but they seem to have missed it.