Benedict’s Last Papal Audience: What is the Church?

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At this point I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the many people throughout the whole world, who, in recent weeks have sent me moving tokens of concern, friendship and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone: now I experience this [truth]again in a way so great as to touch my very heart. The Pope belongs to everyone, and so many people feel very close to him. It’s true that I receive letters from the world’s greatest figures – from the Heads of State, religious leaders, representatives of the world of culture and so on. I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and let me feel their affection, which is born of our being together in Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write me as one might write, for example, to a prince or a great figure one does not know. They write as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of very affectionate family ties. Here, one can touch what the Church is – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of His truth and His love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline.

“They write as brothers and sisters.” Beautiful. What other world leader shares this feeling of kinship with the rest of us who are not dignitaries?

More importantly, the Church is “not an organization,” but “a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all.”

 

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Dr. Pia de Solenni is a moral theologian and cultural analyst. She is an expert in issues relating to women’s health, life issues, the new feminism, Catholicism, and culture. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Washington Post, National Catholic Reporter, and National Review Online. An international expert, she has given popular and academic talks to a variety of audiences, including lay, clergy and the hierarchy. Dr. de Solenni has appeared on MSNBC, “Hardball with Chris Matthews”, “The O’Reilly Factor”, CNN, ABCNews, among others. Dr. de Solenni has been quoted in newspapers nationwide, including The New York Times, The Washington Times, and The Associated Press. Dr. de Solenni received her doctorate in sacred theology summa cum laude from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome. Her dissertation was published in the university series Dissertationes. On Nov 8, 2001, she received the 2001 Award of the Pontifical Academies for her doctoral work. The award was presented by John Paul II. Dr. de Solenni resides in Seattle, Washington.

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