Church Not A Social Organization, Pope Reminds Pilgrims

“The Church is not a social or philanthropic organization,” Pope Benedict XVI reminded a group of pilgrims from southern Italy who visited the Vatican on July 2.

“She is the community of God.”

The Holy Father welcomed the pilgrims, from the Diocese of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti, who were led by their Bishop Mario Paciello.

The pilgrimage was in preparation for a diocesan synod, and the Pope reminded his visitors that a synod is an appropriate time for reflection on the true meaning of the Church—a meaning which is sometimes lost in the clutter of everyday concerns.

The Church is “a mystery of love at the service of humanity, with a view to its sanctification,” the Pope said. Any planning on the mission of the Church must start with that recognition, he cautioned. “Otherwise we run the risk of reducing things to a horizontal dimension which perverts the identity of the Church and the announcement of the faith.”

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