His Holiness Pope Francis said during his last Wednesday audience before the summer break that those who believe that they can have a relationship with Jesus outside the Church are on a harmful and dangerous path.
From AsiaNews, which has more text than most of the other reportage out there. My emphases. My comments.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “We are not isolated and we are not Christians individually, each on his or her own”. Instead, we are all part of the Church, “a large family, where one is welcomed,” where “one learns to live as believers and disciples of the Lord Jesus,” Pope Francis said. [That sounds nice and fluffy, right.]
Speaking in the last general audience before the July break, the Holy Father devoted his catechesis to the Church before a crowd of 35,000 in St Peter’s Square. Despite a few drops of rain, he walked extensively among the assembled faithful.
In his address, he warned against those who “think they can have a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside of the communion and the mediation of the Church.” [QUAERITUR: How is one in communion with the Church and how does one receive the mediation of the Church?]
In the Church, he noted, there is no “do it yourself”, no “free agents.” [“But Holy Father! But Holy Father!,” some are shouting, “I’m spiritual but not religious!”] For him, “Our Christian identity is belonging! We are Christians because we belong to the Church. [How? Is this the Catholic Church we are talking about? I assume so, since this is the Pope of Rome talking.] It is like a surname. If the name is ‘I am a Christian’, the surname is ‘I belong to the Church’.” Such sense of belonging was born from the alliance between God and Abraham, to whom he donated a great people for his loyalty.
“God’s relationship to his people comes before all of us, it comes from that time,” and thus, “in this sense, our thoughts go first, with gratitude, to those who have gone before us and who welcomed us into the Church. No one becomes a Christian by himself! Is this clear? Nobody becomes a Christian by himself. Christians are not made in a lab. [Folksy, but incomprehensible.] Christians are part of a people that has come a long way. Christians belong to a people called the Church and the Church makes us Christians on the day of our Baptism. Of course, then comes the catechesis and so many [other] things. But no one, no one becomes a Christian by himself. ” [Tell that to christians who are less doctrinally formed, who have little to no catechism with which to catechize.]
“There is no ‘do it yourself’ in the Church, no ‘free agents’. How many times did Pope Benedict describe the Church as an ecclesial ‘us’! [Francis Reading Himself Through Benedict.] Sometimes one can hear people say, ‘I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I do not care for the Church . . . ‘How many times have we heard that? And that is no good. ” [Not good at all.]
Some “think they can have a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside of the communion and the mediation of the Church. Such temptations are dangerous and harmful. They are, in the words of the great Pope Paul VI, absurd dichotomies.” [And I don’t think that Benedict or Paul were talking about some vague church out there.]
Read the rest there.
Remember, Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity. Pope Francis, with talk like this, is following in his footsteps.