Pope Benedict XVI has concluded his first visit to the United States. It was fascinating to listen to the media, and various individuals, (Catholic or otherwise) with their various comments on what “the Pope said”.
I was deeply moved by our Holy Father’s visit. I appreciated his courage and straight forward comments on the sexual abuse scandal, his outreach to diverse faiths, and to all the people of our Catholic Church.
I was not surprised that there are those who would focus on sound bites and excerpts to prove or disprove their prejudices about the Pope, the Church or our Lord.
I am prayerfully hoping however, that the Catholic Church in the United States will truly allow the message of our Pope to bring us all closer to Christ, and each other.
If there was one consistent message in all he shared it was that we are to be a true people of Christ, allowing the Spirit of God to bring healing and unity to His Church.
“Our celebration today is also a sign of the impressive growth which God has given to the Church in your country in the past two hundred years. From a small flock like that described in the first reading, the Church in America has been built up in fidelity to the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. In this land of freedom and opportunity, the Church has united a widely diverse flock in the profession of the faith and, through her many educational, charitable and social works, has also contributed significantly to the growth of American society as a whole.
This great accomplishment was not without its challenges. Today’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks of linguistic and cultural tensions already present within the earliest Church community. At the same time, it shows the power of the word of God, authoritatively proclaimed by the Apostles and received in faith, to create a unity which transcends the divisions arising from human limitations and weakness. Here we are reminded of a fundamental truth: that the Church’s unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. All external signs of identity, all structures, associations and programs, valuable or even essential as they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper unity which, in Christ, is God’s indefectible gift to his Church.”
From Pope Benedict’s homily at Yankee Stadium, Sunday, April 20, 2008