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5) The Church is Mother

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Church (5th of 16)
General Audience, Wednesday 3 September 2014 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
We have pointed out many times in previous catecheses that one does not become Christian by oneself, that is, through one’s own effort, autonomously; neither are Christians made in a laboratory, but they are created and they grow in the faith within that great body which is the Church. In this sense the Church is truly mother, our Mother Church — it is beautiful to say it this way: our Mother Church — a mother who gives us life in Christ and who lets us live with all the other brothers and sisters in the communion of the Holy Spirit.

1. In her motherhood, the Church has the Virgin Mary as a model, the most beautiful and most lofty model that there could be. This was already evidenced in the first Christian communities and the Second Vatican Counsel expressed it in a wonderful way (cf. Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, nn. 63-64). The motherhood of Mary is surely unique, singular, and was brought about in the fullness of time, when the Virgin gave birth to the Son of God, conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. However, the motherhood of the Church is established in precise continuity with that of Mary, as her continuation in history. The Church, in the fruitfulness of the Spirit, continues to generate new children in Christ, always listening to the Word of God and in docility to his plan of love. The Church is mother. The conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb, in fact, is the prelude to the birth of every Christian in the womb of the Church. From the moment that Christ is the firstborn among many brethren (cf. Rom 8:29) and our first brother Jesus was born of Mary. He is the model, and we are all born of the Church.

We understand, then, how the relationship which unites Mary and the Church is so deep: by looking at Mary, we discover the most beautiful and most tender face of the Church; and by looking at the Church, we recognize the sublime features of Mary. We Christians are not orphans, we have a mama, we have a mother, and this is great! We are not orphans! The Church is mother, Mary is mother.

2. The Church is our mother because she has given birth to us in Baptism. Each time we baptize a baby, he or she becomes a child of the Church, who enters the Church. And from that day, like an attentive mama, she helps us grow in faith and she shows us, with the strength of the Word of God, the path of salvation, defending us from harm.

The Church has received from Jesus the precious treasure of the Gospel, not to retain it for herself, but to give it generously to others, as a mama would do. In this service of evangelization, the Church, committed as a mother, manifests her motherhood in a special way, to offer her children the spiritual nourishment which nurtures and makes the Christian life bear fruit. However, we are all called to receive with an open mind and heart the Word of God which the Church imparts every day, because this Word has the capacity to change us from within. Only the Word of God has this capacity to change us from the inside, from our deepest roots. The Word of God has this power. And who gives us the Word of God? Mother Church. She nurses us from childhood with this Word, she raises us throughout our life with this Word, and this is great! It is actually Mother Church who, with the Word of God, changes us from within. The Word of God which Mother Church gives us transforms us, makes our humanity pulse, not the according to mundane flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit.

In her motherly solicitude, the Church strives to show the believers the path to follow in order to live a fruitful life of joy and peace. Illuminated by the light of the Gospel and supported by the grace of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, we can guide our decisions toward the good and withstand with hope and courage the times of darkness and the most tortuous paths. The path of salvation, through which the Church guides us and accompanies us with the strength of the Gospel and the support of the Sacraments, gives us the ability to defend ourselves against evil. The Church has the courage of a mother who knows she must defend her children against the dangers which arise from Satan’s presence in the world, in order to lead them to the encounter with Jesus. A mother always protects her children. This defence also calls for vigilance: to be watchful for the snares and seduction of the Evil One. Because even though Satan was defeated by God, he always returns with his temptations; we know it, we are all tempted, we have been tempted and we are tempted. Satan comes “like a roaring lion” (1 Pt 5:8), the Apostle Peter says, and it is up to us not to be naïve, but to be vigilant and to resist, steadfast in the faith. To resist with the counsel of Mother Church, to resist with the help of Mother Church, who like a good mama always accompanies her children at difficult times.

3. Dear friends, this is the Church, this is the Church we all love, this is the Church I love: a mother who has the good of her children at heart and who is able to give her life for them. We must not forget, however, that the Church is not only the priests, or we bishops, no, she is all of us! The Church is all of us! Agreed? And we too are children, but also mothers of other Christians. All who are baptized, men and women, together we are the Church. So often in our life we do not bear witness of this motherhood of the Church, of this maternal courage of the Church! So often we are cowards! Let us then entrust ourselves to Mary, that She as mother of our firstborn brother, Jesus, may teach us to have the same maternal spirit toward our brothers and sisters, with the sincere capacity to welcome, to forgive, to give strength and to instil trust and hope. This is what a mother does."


"Je salue cordialement les francophones présents ce matin, en particulier les pèlerins du Sénégal avec l’Évêque de Kaolack, et les prêtres du diocèse de Strasbourg avec leur Archevêque. Je vous invite à vous confier à la Vierge Marie afin qu’elle vous transmette son esprit maternel, et vous permette d’accueillir vos frères et sœurs et de leur donner confiance et espérance. Que Dieu vous bénisse!

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Malta, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Canada and the United States. May your stay in the Eternal City confirm you in love for our Lord and his Church. May God bless you all!

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España, México, Cuba, Costa Rica, Argentina, Guatemala, Colombia y otros países latinoamericanos. Invito a todos a invocar la intercesión maternal de María y aprender de ella esa ternura que nos permite ser testigos de la maternidad de la Iglesia. Muchas gracias.

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, bem-vindos! Saúdo cordialmente os fiéis moçambicanos de Maputo, os vários grupos paroquiais e também a Família Franciscana do Brasil, os fiéis portugueses da Baixa da Banheira e os crismandos de Cristo Rei da Portela. O Senhor vos abençoe, para serdes em toda a parte farol de luz do Evangelho para todos. Possa esta peregrinação fortalecer nos vossos corações o sentir e o viver com a Igreja. Nossa Senhora acompanhe e proteja a vós todos e aos vossos entes queridos.

أتوجه بتحية قلبية للحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة للقادمين من العراق. إن الكنيسة هي أم وهي، كجميع الأمهات، تعرف أن تصاحب الابن المحتاج، وتقيم الساقط، وتعالج المرض، وتبحث عن الضال، وتوقظ النائم، وتدافع أيضًا عن الابناء العاجزين والمضطهدين. وأود اليوم أن أتوجه خاصة لهؤلاء الأبناء، أي العاجزين والمضطهدين، مؤكدا لهم قرب الكنيسة منهم؛ أنتم في قلب الكنيسة؛ والكنيسة تتألم معكم، وهي فخورة بكم، فخورة بأن يكون لها أبناء مثلكم، أنتم قوة الكنيسة؛ وأنتم الشهادة الملموسة والأصيلة على رسالتها: رسالة الخلاص، والغفران والمحبة. أعانقكم جميعا! ليبارككم الرب يحرسكم دائما!

Pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy przyjaciele! W tych dniach, w wielu miastach Polski, jest wspominana 75. rocznica początku tragedii drugiej wojny światowej. Zawierzamy Bożemu miłosierdziu tych, którzy oddali życie dla miłości ojczyzny i braci, i prosimy o dar pokoju dla wszystkich narodów Europy i świata. Dziś szczególnie potrzebujemy pokoju! Prośmy o dar pokoju przez wstawiennictwo Maryi, Królowej Pokoju! Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

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Desidero unirmi ai recenti interventi del Vescovo di Terni-Narni-Amelia, ed esprimo la mia profonda preoccupazione per la grave situazione che stanno vivendo tante famiglie di Terni a motivo dei progetti della ditta Thyssenkrupp. Ancora una volta rivolgo un accorato appello, affinché non prevalga la logica del profitto, ma quella della solidarietà e della giustizia. Al centro di ogni questione, anche di quella lavorativa, va sempre posta la persona e la sua dignità! Col lavoro non si gioca! E chi, per motivi di denaro, di affari, di guadagnare di più, toglie il lavoro, sappia che toglie la dignità alle persone.

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare, saluto i fedeli di Trapani con il loro Arcivescovo, quelli di Fabro Scalo con il Vescovo di Orvieto-Todi, i militari della brigata “Pinerolo”. A tutti auguro che questa visita nel centro della cristianità vi rinsaldi nell’adesione a Cristo e vi renda suoi testimoni nelle vostre comunità ecclesiali.

Saluto infine i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli. Cari giovani, specialmente voi cresimandi di Lucca accompagnati dal vostro Arcivescovo, tornando dopo le vacanze alle consuete attività quotidiane, riprendete anche il ritmo regolare del vostro intimo dialogo con Dio, diffondendo la sua luce attorno a voi. Voi, cari malati, trovate sostegno nel Signore Gesù, che continua la sua opera di redenzione nella vita di ogni uomo. E voi, cari sposi novelli, - voi siete i coraggiosi, vi dico, perché bisogna avere coraggio per sposarsi oggi; questi sono i coraggiosi - sforzatevi di mantenere un contatto vivo con Dio, affinché il vostro amore sia sempre più vero e duraturo."

ii) The Church teaches the works of mercy

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Church (6th of 16)
General Audience, Wednesday 10 September 2014 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters Good morning,
In the course of our catechesis on the Church, we are pausing to consider that the Church is Mother. Last time we emphasized that the Church lets us grow and, with the light and the strength of the Word of God, shows us the path of salvation, and defends us from evil. Today I would like to highlight a particular aspect of this educational work of our Mother Church, which is how she teaches us works of mercy.

A good educator focuses on the essential. She doesn’t get lost in details, but passes on what really matters so the child or the student can find the meaning and the joy of life. It’s the truth. In the Gospel the essential thing is mercy. God sent his Son, God made himself man in order to save us, that is, in order to grant us his mercy. Jesus says this clearly, summarizing his teaching for the disciples: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). Can there be a Christian who isn’t merciful? No. A Christian must necessarily be merciful, because this is the centre of the Gospel. And faithful to this teaching, the Church can only repeat the same thing to her children: “Be merciful”, as the Father is, and as Jesus was. Mercy.

And thus the Church conducts herself like Jesus. She does not teach theoretical lessons on love, on mercy. She does not spread to the world a philosophy, a way of wisdom.... Of course, Christianity is also all of this, but as an effect, by reflex. Mother Church, like Jesus, teaches by example, and the words serve to illuminate the meaning of her actions.

Mother Church teaches us to give food and drink to those who are hungry and thirsty, to clothe those who are naked. And how does she do this? She does it through the example of so many saints, men and women, who did this in an exemplary fashion; but she does it also through the example of so many dads and mamas, who teach their children that what we have extra is for those who lack the basic necessities. It is important to know this. The rule of hospitality has always been sacred in the simplest Christian families: there is always a plate and a bed for the one in need. A mother once told me — in the other diocese — that she wanted to teach this to her children and she told them to help and feed those who were hungry. She had three. And one day at lunch — the dad was out working, she was there with her three young children, 7, 5 and 4 years old, more or less — and there came a knock at the door: there was a man who asked for something to eat. And the mama told him: “Wait a moment”. She went back inside and told her children: “There’s a man there asking for something to eat, what can we do?” “Let’s give him something, Mama, let’s give him something!”. Each of them had a beefsteak and fried potatoes on their plate. “Very well” — the mother said — “let’s take half from each of you, and we’ll give him half of the beefsteak from each of you”. “Oh, no, Mom, that’s not right!”. “That’s how it is, you have to give some of yours”. And this is how this mom taught her children to give food from their own plate. This is a fine example that really helped me. “But I don’t have any leftovers...”. “Give some of your own!”. This is what Mother Church teaches us. And you, so many moms who are here, you know what you have to do to teach your children the reason for sharing their things with those in need.

Mother Church teaches us to be close to those who are sick. So many saints served Jesus in this manner! And so many simple men and women, every day, practice this work of mercy in a hospital ward, or in a rest home, or in their own home, assisting a sick person.

Mother Church teaches us to be close to those who are in prison. “But no Father, this is dangerous, those are bad people”. But each of us is capable.... Listen carefully to this: each of us is capable of doing the same thing that that man or that woman in prison did. All of us have the capacity to sin and to do the same, to make mistakes in life. They are no worse than you and me! Mercy overcomes every wall, every barrier, and leads you to always seek the face of the man, of the person. And it is mercy which changes the heart and the life, which can regenerate a person and allow him or her to integrate into society in a new way.

Mother Church teaches us to be close to those who are neglected and die alone. That is what the blessed Teresa did on the streets of Calcutta; that is what has been and is done by many Christians who are not afraid to hold the hand of someone who is about to leave this world. And here too, mercy gives peace to those who pass away and those who remain, allowing them to feel that God is greater than death, and that abiding in Him even the last parting is a “see you again”.... The blessed Teresa understood this well! They told her: “Mother, this is a waste of time!”. She found people dying on the street, people whose bodies were being eaten by mice on the street, and she took them home so they could die clean, calm, touched gently, in peace. She gave them a “see you again”, to all of them.... And so many men and women like her have done this. And they are awaiting them, there [pointing to heaven], at the gate, to open the gate of Heaven to them. Help people die serenely, in peace.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is how the Church is Mother, by teaching her children works of mercy. She learned this manner from Jesus, she learned that this is what’s essential for salvation. It’s not enough to love those who love us. Jesus says that pagans do this. It’s not enough to do good to those who do good to us. To change the world for the better it is necessary to do good to those who are not able to return the favour, as the Father has done with us, by giving us Jesus. How much have we paid for our redemption? Nothing, totally free! Doing good without expecting anything in return. This is what the Father did with us and we must do the same. Do good and carry on!

How beautiful it is to live in the Church, in our Mother Church who teaches us these things which Jesus taught us. Let us thank the Lord, who has given us the grace of having the Church as Mother, she who teaches us the way of mercy, which is the way of life. Let us thank the Lord."


"Je suis heureux de vous saluer, chers amis de langue française, en particulier les pèlerins venus de France, de Suisse, de Belgique et du Sénégal. Je vous invite à remercier le Seigneur de nous avoir fait la grâce d’avoir l’Église pour mère, elle qui nous enseigne le chemin de la miséricorde et de la vie ! Bon pèlerinage et bon séjour à Rome !

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Wales, Scotland, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, South Africa, the Philippines, Canada and the United States. Upon all of you, I invoke the mercy and peace of the Lord, praying that you may share these gifts with all whom you will encounter. May God bless you!

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an alle Pilger deutscher Sprache. Liebe Freunde, danken wir dem Herrn für die Gnade, die Kirche als Mutter zu haben. Sie lehrt uns den Weg der Barmherzigkeit und den Weg des Lebens. Gott segne euch alle.

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos venidos de España, México, Colombia, Perú, Chile, Argentina y otros países latinoamericanos. Les animo a agradecer al Señor que nos haya dado a la Iglesia como madre, y a recorrer con generosidad el camino de la misericordia. Muchas gracias y que Dios los bendiga.

Dirijo uma saudação cordial aos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, em particular aos tripulantes do Navio-escola Brasil e a todos os fiéis brasileiros e de Portugal. Queridos amigos, as obras de misericórdia são essenciais para a nossa vida cristã. Olhai ao vosso redor, há sempre alguém que precisa de uma mão estendida, de um sorriso, de um gesto de amor. Quando somos generosos, nunca nos faltam as bênçãos de Deus. Obrigado!

أتوجه بتحية قلبية للحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة للقادمين من سوريا ومن الشرق الأوسط. الكنيسة، على مثال معلمها، هي معلمة الرحمة: تقابل الكراهية بالمحبة؛ وتهزم العنف بالغفران، وترد على الأسلحة بقوة الصلاة! الرب يعوض امانتكم، ويمنحكم شجاعة مجابهة قوى الشرير، ويفتح اعين أولئك الذين اعمى الشر قلوبهم وعيونهم ليروا سريعا بهاء الحقيقة ويتوبوا عن الشر الذي ارتكبته أيديهم! ليبارككم الرب يحرسكم دائما!

Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Moi drodzy, „bądźcie miłosierni, jak Ojciec wasz jest miłosierny” – oto nauczanie Chrystusa, które Kościół przekazuje jako wciąż aktualne. Niech wasze serca będą otwarte na wszystkich potrzebujących, a ręce gotowe do niesienia im pomocy. Niech was wspiera łaska i błogosławieństwo Boże.

S láskou pozdravujem pútnikov zo Slovenska, osobitne účastníkov Púte Ordinariátu ozbrojených síl a zborov, vedených pánom biskupom Rábekom. Bratia a sestry, Panna Mária nech sa matersky prihovára za nás a nech nás sprevádza na našej ceste za Kristom. Zo srdca žehnám všetkých vás i vašich drahých.

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Cari pellegrini di lingua italiana: benvenuti! Saluto le Suore Missionarie della Fede che celebrano il Capitolo Generale e i fedeli provenienti da varie diocesi italiane, accompagnati dai loro Pastori. In particolare sono lieto di accogliere i pellegrinaggi delle Diocesi di Treviso, nel centenario della morte di San Pio X, Pontefice animato da grande zelo pastorale; Acireale, a 170 anni dalla sua costituzione; Modena e Reggio Emilia, in ringraziamento per la Beatificazione del seminarista Rolando Rivi, eroico testimone di fedeltà a Cristo e al Vangelo; Bergamo e Adria-Rovigo. Saluto inoltre il Gruppo Donatori di sangue della Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri; come pure gli Ufficiali e Marinai della Squadra Navale impegnati nell’operazione “Mare Nostrum”, e vi ringrazio per l’ammirevole opera in favore di tanti fratelli in cerca di speranza. Grazie tante, grazie. La visita alle Tombe degli Apostoli alimenti in voi tutti la fede che si manifesta in concrete opere di carità.

Un particolare pensiero rivolgo ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Venerdì prossimo celebreremo la memoria del Santissimo Nome di Maria. Invocatela, cari giovani, specialmente i cresimati della Diocesi di Chiavari, per sentire la dolcezza dell’amore della Madre di Dio; pregatela, cari ammalati, soprattutto nel momento della croce e della sofferenza; guardate a Lei, cari sposi novelli, come al modello del vostro cammino coniugale di dedizione e fedeltà."

Saluti ai malati prima dell'Udienza Generale

"Vi ringrazio della vostra visita, grazie tante. Vi chiedo di pregare per me, non dimenticare, eh!, perché possa andare avanti col mio lavoro. Io pregherò per tutti voi e per i bambini. E adesso, tutti insieme, preghiamo la Madonna e vi do la benedizione. [Ave Maria] Buona giornata, e avanti, eh! Grazie a voi! Grazie."

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