Pope Benedict XVI- Angelus

Angelus Message
On Christian Unity
"The Call to Holiness is For All"
H.H. Benedict XVI
January 24, 2010


Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Among the biblical readings from today's liturgy there is the celebrated text of St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians in which the Church is compared to the human body. The Apostle writes: "As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). The Church is understood as a body, which forms with Christ, who is the head, one single whole. Nevertheless, what the Apostle wishes to communicate is the idea of unity in the multiplicity of charisms, which are the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Thanks to these gifts the Church presents itself as a rich -- and not a uniform -- living organism, the fruit of the one Spirit who leads all into a profound unity, assuming the differences without abolishing them and realizing a harmonious ensemble. It prolongs the presence of the risen Lord in history, especially through the Sacraments, the Word of God, the charisms and the offices distributed in the community. For this reason, it is precisely in Christ and in the Spirit that the Church is one and holy, that is, an intimate communion that transcends and sustains human capacities.

I would like to emphasize this aspect while we are observing the "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity," which concludes tomorrow, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Following tradition, I will celebrate vespers in the afternoon in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, with the participation of representatives from the other Churches and ecclesial communities present in Rome. We will ask God for the gift of the complete unity of all the disciples of Christ and, in particular, according to this year's theme, we will renew the commitment to being together witnesses of the crucified and risen Lord (cf. Luke 24:48). The communion of Christians, in fact, makes the proclamation of the Gospel more credible and efficacious, as Jesus himself said as he prayed to the Father on the eve of his death: "That they may be one ... that the world might believe" (John 17:21).

Finally, Dear Friends, I would like to recall the figure of St. Frances de Sales, his liturgical memorial is January 24. Born in Savoy in 1567, he studied law at Padua and Paris and, called by the Lord, he became a priest. He dedicated himself to preaching and the spiritual formation of the faithful with great fruit, teaching that the call to holiness is for all and that everyone -- as St. Paul says with the example of the body -- has his place in the Church. St. Francis de Sales is the patron of journalists and the Catholic press. To his spiritual help I entrust the "Message for the World Day of Social Communications," which I sign every year on this occasion and which was presented at the Vatican yesterday.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, obtain for us always to make progress in communion, to transmit the beauty of being one in the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Yesterday in Barcelona was the beatification of José Samsó i Elías, Catalan priest and martyr, killed during the Spanish Civil War. A true witness of Christ, he died forgiving his persecutors. For priests, especially those who serve in parishes, he is a model of dedication to catechesis and to charity toward the poor.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, the Pontiff said:]

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims to this Angelus. In today's liturgy, Jesus tells us plainly that he has been anointed "to preach good news to the poor" (Lk 4:18). Indeed, it is the poor whom God has chosen to be rich in faith and heirs of His kingdom (cf. Jas 2:5). Dear brothers and sisters, may those in need take courage from the Good News, and may all of us be generous with God's gifts to us (cf. Mk 4:24).

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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