From THE TABLET, 6 June 2018:
‘The Church is us who walk, us who are here in the square. It’s everyone’
Pope Francis has said the church should be understood not as a hierarchy but as “us who walk”.
Continuing his series of reflections dedicated to the Sacrament of Confirmation, Francis told pilgrims gathered for his general audience that the sacrament gives candidates a stronger identity as “a living member of the mystical body of Christ.”
He added, in off-the-cuff comments, that when it comes to how the Church is understood: “Some may think that in the church there are masters — the pope, the bishops, the priests — and then the workers who are something else,” he said.
“No, the church is everyone. And we all have the responsibility of sanctifying one another, of caring for others. The church is ‘us.’ Everyone has their job in the church, but we are all the church.”
“The Church is us who walk, us who are here in the square. It’s everyone,” he said.
He also said that when a person is anointed with oil at Confirmation, that gift “enters us and bears fruit so that we can then give it to others,” the pope explained. The gift is not meant to be tucked away and stored “as if the soul was a warehouse.”
During the sacrament of confirmation, he continued, the bishop tells the candidate, “Peace be with you,” which is “a gesture that expresses the ecclesial communion with the bishop and with all the faithful.”
However, that gift can be lost if Christians start saying mean things about each other once they leave Mass.
“Gossip is war,” the pope said. “Poor Holy Spirit! (Imagine) the work he has with us with our habit of gossiping!”
Pope Francis urged the faithful to preach the Gospel with deeds and words “that edify and not with words of gossip that destroy.”
Like the parable of the talents, he added, the Holy Spirit’s gift is a seed that bears fruit when it is shared with others and not “when it is buried because of selfish fears.”