A Visible Center of Unity

This past week, Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, made his journey to the World Meetings of Families, sponsored by the Vatican dicastery responsible for ministry to families, laity and life, headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell. The Diocese of Brooklyn was blessed by a representation of priests and parishioners.

Much has been written about Jesuit Father James Martin’s talk on welcome to Catholics with same-sex attraction and their families to help create parishes that recognize the presence of such families and help to minister to their needs. Much has been written about the open and frank discussions of sexual misconduct, both with minors and adults, on the part of some clerics, religious, and pastoral ministers. These are important news stories. But few have noted the reason why most people traveled from around the world to Ireland last week. There is one reason primarily and that is to be in the presence of the pope.

The Holy Father, no matter who occupies the position of the Bishop of Rome, is the Vicar of Christ. He is the successor of St. Peter and the visible sign in his person of the unity, the Catholicity, of the Church. The vast majority of people were overjoyed to be in the presence of the Holy Father, to hear his words and to receive his blessing.

Simply put, the pope matters. He is not merely a figurehead or a distant CEO. The Holy Father is universal shepherd and pastor of the world. Not that we need any reminders, but the world is in pretty sorry shape. And the Church on earth is also suffering.

Pray that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, whom we as Catholics believe that God, in His plan of salvation history, has chosen to be the pope, may have the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and the fear of the Lord to be a figure of unity for Catholics of the world. There should not be “liberal” Catholics, nor “conservative” Catholics. The Church is not about divisive parties or titles (although we must recognize that although the Church, as the Mystical Body of Christ, is sinless, we who make up the Church are sinners). She is the Bride of Christ and She is the People of God, consisting of clergy, those in consecrated life and the laity.

Pray that Catholics, by growing in prayer, in knowledge of the fonts of divine revelation (sacred Scripture and sacred tradition), the magisterium (the official teaching of the Church), and of course, the lived experience of the Church in the world, may come to a sense of unity and the consolation of peace that can only come from the Truth who is Christ Jesus.

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