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Papal preacher says divisions have ‘hurt’ Catholic Church

ROME – After reflecting on the biblical meaning of brotherhood during the Passion of the Lord in the Vatican, the papal preacher lamented on Good Friday the disunity existing between Catholics.

“Brotherhood among Catholics is wounded,” Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa said. “Divisions between churches tore Christ’s tunic to shreds, and worse yet, each ragged strip has been cut into even smaller fragments. I am of course talking about the human element of it, because no one will ever be able to tear the true tunic of Christ, his mystical body animated by the Holy Spirit.

“In the eyes of God, the Church is ‘one, holy, Catholic and apostolic’, and will remain so until the end of the world,” he said. “This, however, does not excuse our divisions, but makes them more guilty and must push us with more force to heal them.”

The “Passion of the Lord” service is the only liturgy presided over by the Pope, of which he is not the homilist. Instead, the task falls on Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa – elevated to the Church’s most exclusive club last year, after four decades as a preacher of the papal household.

As has been the case since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the liturgy has been virtually devoid of the presence of faithful, with fewer than 200 participants, including cardinals, acolytes and gendarmes from the Vatican and Swiss guards, present in St. Peter’s Basilica guarding St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope.

After walking to the altar of the pulpit of St. Peter’s Basilica in eerie silence, 84-year-old Pope Francis bowed down to the altar. During the service, the Gospel recounted the last hours of Jesus’ life, from his arrest to his burial.

For example, in a country currently in full containment due to the pandemic, the veneration of the cross, when each faithful goes in procession to embrace a statue of Christ crucified, has been omitted.

Fraternity, said Cantalamessa, is built as peace is built: “it starts very close, with ourselves, not with big strategies and ambitious and abstract goals. For us, this means that universal brotherhood begins with the Catholic Church.

However, he noted that the Church is experiencing disunity.

“What is the most common cause of bitter divisions among Catholics? It is not dogma, nor is it the sacraments and ministries, none of the things that, by the singular grace of God, we fully and universally preserve, ”he said. “The divisions that polarize Catholics arise from political options that turn into ideologies taking precedence over religious and ecclesial considerations and leading to a complete abandonment of the value and duty of obedience in the Church.

“In many parts of the world, these divisions are very real, even if they are not openly mentioned or disdainfully denied,” Cantalamessa continued. “It is sin in its primary sense. The kingdom of this world becomes more important in the heart of the person than the kingdom of God.

The papal preacher then said he believed every Catholic should conduct a “serious” examination of conscience when it comes to fueling these divisions, and “be converted.” “

“Fomenting division is the quintessential work of one whose name is ‘diabolos’, that is, the divider, the weed-sowing enemy, as Jesus said,” said Cantalamessa. “We must learn from the example of Jesus and the gospel. He lived in a time of strong political polarization, ”but Jesus did not take sides with any of them, rejecting any attempt to be drawn to one or the other.

The first Christian community, he noted, followed Jesus’ choice not to align with any political party, setting an example for pastors called to shepherd all the flock entrusted to them, and not part of it. this one. In this sense, pastors “must be the first to make a serious examination of conscience. They must ask themselves where they are leading their flocks – to their position or to that of Jesus. “

Cantalamessa went on to say that Vatican Council II entrusted the laity with the task of translating into practice the social, economic and political implications of the Gospel in different historical situations, always in a respectful and peaceful manner.

Later that evening, in an empty St. Peter’s Square, Francis was to lead the Stations of the Cross.

On Saturday evening, he will lead the paschal vigil service, and on Easter Sunday, after having celebrated mass in the basilica, he will read the traditional Urbi and orbi (To the city and to the world) message.

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma

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