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Pope Francis: Time to go to church, you cannot be a Christian without loving the Church

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 4th, 2014
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pope Francis has reminded Christians that faithfulness to the Church, is part of being a Christian and loving Christ. He stressed that we cannot use Church doctrine "as we please."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During today's homily, Pope Francis talked about the three pillars of belonging. Those pillars are "Humility", "Fidelity," and, "Special Service."

Pope Francis gave special emphasis to Fidelity. He explained, "Fidelity to the Church, fidelity to its teaching; fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, safeguarding this doctrine. Humility and fidelity. Even Paul VI reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we need to transmit it as a gift, but not as a something of ours: it is a gift that we received."

"And be faithful in this transmission. Because we have received and we have to gift a Gospel that is not ours, that is Jesus', and we must not - he would say - become masters of the Gospel, masters of the doctrine we have received, to use it as we please," he explained.

Pope Francis also quoted Pope Paul VI, and his statement that it was an "absurd dichotomy" to love Christ without love for the Church. Today, it is common to encounter Christians who disavow any church, or who do not participate in a church community, often criticizing the church and the community as the reason for refrain from devout practice. While these individuals might do good from day to day, as Christians are expected to do, they are missing part of the equation.

When a person is baptized, they are baptized into the Church, which Pope Francis explained is the Community of God.

Pope Francis shared, "This is why the great Paul VI said that it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to be with Christ at the margins of the Church. It's not possible. It is an absurd dichotomy. We receive the Gospel message in the Church and we carry out our holiness in the Church, our path in the Church. The other is a fantasy, or, as he said, an absurd dichotomy."

It should be understood that Christ did found the church community, and sent the apostles to form and support communities of believers. These are not random individuals doing their own thing, practicing as they want. Rather, faith is imbued with discipline, and a powerful sense of community.

The communal identity is central to Christianity, and it is a stretch to be a Christian while eschewing the community.

Part of membership in a community, is loyalty to others and loyalty to the hierarchy imposed by God. For this reason, we are called to love and obey the church. When the Holy Father calls us to mass, or to Lenten fast, and to 'Prayer and Action' we have a duty to respond.

It may be unpopular in our highly individualized, secular world, but the fact of the matter is, we are not lords onto ourselves, and we must show respect and obedience to God, and love for his Church. That of course includes participating in that Church, and listening to what it teaches.

This is the essence of fidelity.

Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...

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