Article by Leo Zagami
Because of sinfulness human projects will always fail, but the Church remains steadfast even in times of scandal because it is sustained by the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis said only a few hours ago, on Wednesday 18th, 2019 in preparation of the imminent return of Cardinal Pell who will publically repent and be allowed back to Rome.
The Pope said: “Let us think of the history of Christians, including the history of the Church, with so many sins, with so many scandals, with so many bad things in these two millennia. And why did it not collapse? Because God is there.”
“We are sinners, and so often we even give scandal. But God is with us,” he added. “But the Lord always saves. Strength is ‘God with us.’”
Pope Francis noted in contrast, human projects always fail, pointing to the many political projects of history, including the empires and dictatorships of the last century.
“They felt very powerful, they thought they dominated the world. And then they all collapsed,”he stated. “Even today, think of today’s empires: they will collapse, if God is not with them, because the strength that men have in themselves is not lasting. Only the strength of God endures.”
During his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles with a reflection on the importance of the Holy Spirit.
In the fifth chapter of Acts, the Apostles are facing opposition from Jews, but they “respond with courage,” showing they possess the “obedience of faith,” Francis said.
They have this courage, he said, because from Pentecost they are no longer alone, but the Holy Spirit is working through them.
“They feel they cannot say, ‘I’ alone,”he added. “Strengthened by this covenant, the Apostles do not let themselves be intimidated by anyone. They had an impressive courage!”
Pope Francis noted that at Jesus’ arrest, the disciples ran away like cowards. “But, from cowards they have become so brave. Why? Because the Holy Spirit was with them.”
“The same happens to us: if we have the Holy Spirit inside, we will have the courage to move forward, the courage to win many struggles, not for ourselves but for the Spirit that is with us,”he said, pointing to the martyrs, who gave their lives and never hid their Christian identity.
The pope recalled the Coptic Orthodox Christians who were killed in Libya in 2015. “But the last word they said was, ‘Jesus, Jesus.’ They were filled with the Holy Spirit,” he said.
In Acts, the Apostles are living like “megaphones” of the Holy Spirit, and this“makes the Jewish ‘religious system’ tremble,”feel threatened and respond with violence and death threats, Francis explained comparing himself and the Catholic Church to the acts of Jesus and His Apostles who were never a bunch of charlatans and pedophiles.
However, the pope said, one Pharisee in the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel teaches us how to practice discernment, that what is of God will last while human projects may first succeed but then become “shipwrecked.”
“Gamaliel concludes that, if the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth believed an impostor, they are destined to disappear into thin air; if instead they follow one who comes from God, it is better to give up fighting them; and warns: ‘Do not happen to find yourself even fighting against God’ (Acts 5:39). He teaches us to make this discernment,”he stated.
Gamaliel’s words teach people to“recognize the tree by its fruits.”
“We ask the Holy Spirit to act in us so that, both personally and as a community, we can acquire the habitus of discernment,” Francis concluded.
The fruits of the Catholic Church are made of poison if we compare them to their actions. Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati has just submitted a report to Rome following criticism of the archdiocese’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse against a local priest. Fr Geoff Drew was arrested on August 19 on a nine-count indictment for sexual abuse. The charges date back 30 years to before Drew’s time in ministry, when he was a music minister at a local parish. The accusations concern abuse said to have taken place over two years, when the reported victim was 10 and 11 years old. Drew pled not guilty during an August 21 arraignment hearing. If convicted, the priest could face life in prison, but of course, the Vatican will not allow that just as with Cardinal Pell.
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