The Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter and Benedict XVI, the Pope of Christian Unity
We express our deep gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ for the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, the Pope of Christian Unity
The Pope sees as his 'Impelling Duty' the rebuilding of the full and visible unity of the Church. His magisterium is characterized by orthodoxy, orthopraxy and the legitimate diversity of expression within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Fr. Jeffrey Steenson celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Anglican Use Liturgy in the Catholic Church
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - On April 20, 2005 newly elected Pope Benedict XVI gave his first message at the end of a Mass he had concelebrated with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. He signaled his mission:
"Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master's supreme aspiration. Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Luke 22: 32).
"With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter's current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty."
The authentic ecumenical mission, the full and visible unity of the Church, was at the heart of Blessed John Paul's pontificate - and is now at the heart of Pope Benedict's - precisely because it reflects Heart of the Lord. "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." (John 17: 20, 21)
In Catholic theology we teach what the early fathers, Saints and Councils throughout the ages have all affirmed; to belong to Jesus is to belong to His Body. Our membership in the Church is a participation in the life of God; what the Apostle Peter referred to as a "participation in the Divine nature". (2 Peter 1:4)
Catholics speak of our Christian friends in other Christian communities who have been validly baptized in accordance with a Trinitarian formula as already being in "imperfect communion" with the One Church. This is why Catholics do not "re-baptize" a Christian from another community who comes into the Catholic Church. We speak of them as coming into "full communion" because they are already joined to the one Church in an "imperfect" or incomplete communion.
The Church is not some "thing", outside of us, which we try to "fix" or have our "issues" with. The Church is not some human organization we created so that we could meet to study the Bible, support one another and do good works - as commendable as each of those endeavors may be. The Church is God's Plan for the whole human race. Jesus came to found that Church and begin the New Creation. It is a communion from above into which we enter. It is His Body. He is the Head and we are the members.
Through our Baptism the Church becomes our home, our mother, the place in which we now live our lives in Christ. To perceive, receive and to live this reality requires a continuing and dynamic conversion brought about by grace, which is mediated to us through the Sacraments and, most especially through our Eucharistic communion. We are sons and daughters of the Church now. In living our lives within her we are enlisted in the mission of carrying forward in time the continuing work of Jesus Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing several ancient patristic sources, states: "To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood." (#895)
This Church is both human and divine; thus her members still sin. Sometimes evil enters and rots her from within. Sadly, she has been divided, but that is not the Lord's Plan. She is the means through which all men and women are invited to participate in the life of God and find true unity. She is, as the fathers were fond of saying, "the world reconciled" and a seed of the Kingdom to come.
To this Church has been entrusted the Sacraments (Mysteries), the Word of God, and the gift of a Teaching Office - Magisterium - through which Jesus Christ continues to speak through the Holy Spirit. The Church is not an optional "extra" that we add on to our lives, she is our life and we live our lives now in Christ.
From Christ's wounded side, the Church was birthed at the tree of Calvary, the altar of the new world. Through faith we are invited into this mystery and by grace we come to more fully comprehend and live it as we respond to the ongoing call to conversion and newness of life.
Pope Benedict XVI sees as his 'Impelling Duty' the rebuilding of the full and visible ...
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