Divisions among Christians are 'a scandal,' says pope
Strong words in response to the question 'has Christ been divided?'
Picture: AFP Photo/Tiziana Fabi
The divisions that exist among Christians are a source of pain and scandal, and damage the credibility and work of spreading the Gospel, Pope Francis said.
"Christ's name creates communion and unity, not division. He came to create communion among us, not to divide us!" the pope said during his general audience address Jan. 22 in St. Peter's Square.
The pope's audience took place during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25. A group of Christians from different communities in Canada chose the theme for the 2014 observance -- "Has Christ been divided?"
The pope dedicated his catechesis to the week of prayer's theme, taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians.
As St. Paul reproached the Corinthians for their divisions and rivalries, he asked them, "Is Christ divided?" the pope said.
"Christ has certainly not been divided. But we have to recognize with sincerity and with sorrow that our communities continue to live divisions that are a scandal," the pope said.
"Divisions among Christians are a scandal. There is no other word for it. A scandal!" he said to applause.
Christians have two important elements in common: baptism and the cross, he said.
However, divisions among Christian communities "weaken the credibility and the effectiveness of our efforts to evangelize, and they risk emptying the cross of its power" and meaning, he said.
St. Paul reminds Christians to rejoice in the gifts God has given to other Christians, "gifts which we can receive from them for our enrichment," Pope Francis said.
"It's beautiful to recognize the grace God bestows upon us and, furthermore, to find in other Christians something which we need, something which we could receive as a gift from our brothers and sisters," he said.
Christian unity requires "much prayer, humility, reflection and continual conversion," he said.
Source: Catholic News Service
Philippine extremist murders soldier involved in peace efforts in restive south
After eight years of legal proceedings the case was quashed due to lack of evidence
Are the old elite moving to take back power?
Gathering in Philippines accuse genetically modified crops of wreaking havoc among farmers
Report looks at how proposed policies measure up against church teachings