Here below is the full text of the Pope's weekly general audience catechesis for October 8th.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the last catecheses, we sought to bring to light the nature and beauty of the Church, and we asked ourselves what it entails for each one of us to be part of this people. We must not forget, however, that there are so many brothers who share with us faith in Christ, but who belong to other confessions and different traditions from ours. Many are resigned to this division, which in the course of history was often the cause of conflicts and sufferings. Even today relations are not always marked by respect and cordiality … And we, how do we address all this? Are we also resigned if not, in fact, indifferent? Or do we believe firmly that we can and must walk in the direction of reconciliation and full communion?
The divisions between Christians, while wounding the Church, wound Christ. The Church, in fact, is the Body of which Christ is the Head. We know well how much Jesus had at heart that His disciples remain united in His love. Suffice it to think of His words reported in the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel, the prayer addressed to His Father in the imminence of His Passion: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11). This unity was already threatened while Jesus was still among His own: in the Gospel, in fact, we are reminded that the Apostles argued among themselves as to who was the greatest, the most important (cf.Luke 9:46). The Lord, however, insisted so much on unity in the Father’s name, making us understand that our proclamation and our witness will be that much more credible the more we are able to live in communion and to love one another. It is what His Apostles, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, then understood profoundly and took to heart, so much so that Saint Paul arrived at the point of imploring the community of Corinth with these words: “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
During her journey in history, the Church is tempted by the Evil One, who attempts to divide her and, unfortunately, she has been marked by grave and painful separations. They are divisions that sometimes have been protracted long in time, up to today, so that it is difficult at this point to reconstruct all the motivations and above all to find possible solutions. The reasons that have led to breaks and separations can be the most diverse: from divergences on dogmatic and moral principles and on different theological and pastoral concepts, to political motives of convenience, to clashes due to antipathies and personal ambitions. What is certain is that, in one way or another, behind theses lacerations are always pride and egoism, which are the cause of all disagreement and which render us intolerant, incapable of listening and of accepting that there is a vision or a position different from ours.
Now, in face of all this, is there something that each one of us, as members of Holy Mother Church, can and must do? Without a doubt, prayer must not be lacking, in continuity and in communion with that of Jesus. And, together with prayer, the Lord asks us for renewed openness: He asks us not to close ourselves to dialogue and to encounter, but to take up everything that is valid and positive that is offered to us also from one who thinks differently from us or holds different positions. He asks us not to fix our look on what divides us, but rather on that which unites us, seeking to know and to love Jesus better and to share the richness of His love. And this entails concretely adherence to truth, together with the capacity to forgive one another, to feel ourselves part of the same family, to consider ourselves a gift to one another and to do many good things together, many works of charity.
Dear friends, let us go forward now towards full unity! History has separated us, but we are on the way towards reconciliation and communion! And when the goal might seem too distant, almost unreachable, and we feel prey to discouragement, let us be encouraged by the idea that God cannot close His ear to the voice of His Son Jesus and to hear His and our prayer, that all Christians be truly one.