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Church should fear sin of members more than persecution, says Pope

By on Thursday, 8 December 2011

In St Peter's Square an Italian banner says: 'Mary the Immaculate will triumph' (Photo: CNS)

In St Peter's Square an Italian banner says: 'Mary the Immaculate will triumph' (Photo: CNS)

The Church should fear the sin of its own members more than hatred against Christians, Pope Benedict XVI said.

While the Church has suffered from persecution throughout its history, it “is supported by the light and strength of God” and will always end up victorious, he said.

Overcoming trials and outside threats shows how the Christian community “is the presence, the guarantee of God’s love against all ideologies of hatred and selfishness,” he said on the feast of the Immaculate Conception today.

“The only danger the Church can and should fear is the sin of her members,” the Pope said.

Pope Benedict marked the feast day by making an afternoon visit to a statue of Mary erected near the Spanish Steps.

He went from the Vatican to the heart of Rome’s tourist and shopping district to pay homage to Mary by praying before the statue, which commemorates Pope Pius IX’s proclamation in 1854 that Mary, by special divine favour, was without sin from the moment she was conceived.

The Pope offered a large basket of white roses, which was then set at the foot of the column topped by the statue. He also greeted and blessed the infirm and their caregivers.

He told the crowds gathered for the event that Mary is “free from every stain of sin [and] the Church is holy, but at the same time is marked by our sins”.

For that reason, Christians often turn to Mary for help and encouragement in living a truly Christian life, he said.

She also gives hope, “which we really need, especially at this very difficult time for Italy, Europe and different parts of the world”.

“Mary helps us see that there is a light beyond the blanket of fog that seems to envelop reality,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the Pope led the Angelus prayer with those gathered in St Peter’s Square.

Before the prayer, the Pope said that, like Mary, “we, too, are given the ‘fullness of grace’ that we must let shine in our lives”.

God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him,” the Pope said, citing St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.

“In her sinless perfection, Mary is a great sign of hope for the Church and for the world, a sign of the marvels that God’s grace can accomplish in us, his human creatures,” the pope said.

He asked that during the days of Advent, people prepare to welcome Mary’s son into their lives and hearts.

  • Mikethelionheart

    How God has truly blessed us with this pope. His teaching is wonderful and gets to the point of issues with a beautiful clarity.
    His teaching will be studied and be influential for generations to come.

  • I Italo

    I could not agree more.
    Thank you.

  • Ann

    Benedict is an old man with a young heart…always saying just what we need to hear in fresh and inspiring ways.

  • LocutusOP

    Wiser words were seldom spoken.

  • George

    Pope Benedict continues to inspire and encourage us.  Yet, there is a shadow over all of Christianity.  Turkey was the Christian Byzantine Empire.  Yet, it has not returned to Christianity, centuries after being forcefully converted to Islam.  Lebanon was a Christian Country, and Palestine also.  No longer.  Christians in Africa are now enduring heavy persecution, which may result in the total elimination of the African Christian Church, or subjugation, under Islam.  Christians in Indonesia and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, are in deadly danger.  Europe itself is endangered by Muslim immigrants, and many areas in European Countries are now Islamic communities.  And many Christians seem only too eager to assist this Islamic ascendancy.

    So, what should Christians do? First, educate yourself as to the Islamic religion.  Be aware of the stratagems of Islam. For example, you should know that it is perfectly acceptable, in Islamic law, for Muslims to deceive others, meaning that they can lie, and will deceive you.  An example of this:  A Catholic friend recently hired a Turkish guide, for his tour.  The guide (wishing to ingratiate himself with western tourists), blandly told him,  “Turkey is a Christian Country!”   Not according to the Turkish government, which states Turks are 99.8% Moslem!  So, be aware of this, if you have Muslim friends.  Yes, we must be courteous, but not gullible!  Also, know our own Western history.  Don’t accept the common Islamic remark, “It’s all the fault of Christians – look what they did in the Crusades!”  A brazen example of Islamic effrontery.   The Crusades came after Europe was invaded by Islam, not before! Christians in those days got understandably tired of Moslems pillaging their way across Europe, forcing Islam down their throats.  Don’t accept these Muslim excuses for islamic jihad!

    Study Sharia Law and understand how damaging it is to Western Civilization.  Here is just one aspect:  According to Sharia, these are the things forbidden to Muslims:  Pork, dogs, alcohol, blood, urine, feces, semen….and Kafirs.  What is a Kafir?  That’s YOU, oh Christian!  Muslims call you a “Thing”, and consider you as equal to a dog, a pig, or urine, or feces…That is just one aspect of Sharia Law.  Another aspect: If your daughter marries a Kafir, it is necessary, under Sharia, to kill her.   That’s just two aspects of Sharia. So, do not promote, accept, or speak favorably of Sharia!  And, discourage implimentation of Sharia in our Courts.  Be firm.  It is necessary to impart (somehow), the rule that Muslims must be responsible to our laws.  Don’t accept their opinion, that because you reject Sharia, that you are bigoted!  Also, it’s time to totally dispense with the tired Islamic strategem, that criticism of Islam is bigoted, or racist.  Islam is not a race.  And let’s end the “We must be tolerant” dodge. It is not tolerant to allow Sharia in our countries.  Christians can, and are very often, criticized.  Muslims must learn to accept criticism, also. 

    Don’t be a spokesperson for Islam.  They are more than capable of representing themselves.  Those westeners who promote Sharia, or some aspect of Islam, like Halal meats, or Islamic prayer in state schools, are being submissive to Islam, meaning they have become second class citizens, called dhimmis, vassals to moslems, and guilty of changing our society to fit Islamic law.  

    And let’s employ our most useful help, the Rosary.  We should not resort to the tactics employed by Muslims, lying, violence and threats.  We can help ourselves, and them, by praying the Rosary, every day. 

  • Brid

    Thank you. You have said all that needs to be said.

  • LocutusOP

    Surely you must have missed the whole point of the Pope’s speech: that it is not Islam and other religions (in which I include atheism) which is the greatest threat but the ignorance of the faith and moral relativism of Christians themselves – and the atheists/agnostics who hide in their midst and do things in their name.

    After all, the growing persecution of Christians in non-Muslim countries cannot by even the wildest stretch of the English language be attributed to Muslims. In most cases it’s by people who publicly profess themselves to be Christians.

  • Bob Hayes

    Agreed! Rampant moral relativism amongst significant numbers of Christians is a modern-day fifth column. We need to be ever vigilant – and loyal to Christ, our Church and her teachings.

  • George

    Does this mean, we should ignore persecution altogether?
    And somehow, even though we take no action, that Christianity will win?
    And will win, without any effort on our part, to combat persecution?

    Yes, there is persecution by various groups opposed to Christianity in Western Countries.  Their approach is predominantly one of legal lawsuits, attack essays, secular and atheistic web sites, jokes by TV Hosts, lewd & vulgar comedy, fraudulent claims, hypocritical criticism of the clergy, and sneering in general – and, they have been quite effective in their attacks on the Church, and certainly, they are one cause of the general moral poverty of so many Catholics  You are correct in seeing them as very, very dangerous opponents. But the Churches remain, there is daily Mass, there are devoted Catholics, so we have hope…
     But, so far, our Western opponents above, haven’t set off bombs in trains and buses, flown planes into buildings, made it illegal to build Churches, or to own a Bible, engaged in jihad, beheaded parochial school students, shot families, warred on Buddhists, rioted in Christian communities, engaged in warfare with militias, killed Apostates, killed offspring that married Kafirs, enforced halal laws, taken over state schools to promote islam, at taxpayers expense, appropriated Christian property, assassinated priests and nuns, shot at the Pope, threatened other popes with violence, made every religion illegal except for Islam, shoved women into Burqas, and made it illegal for women to drive, or to get an education.
    But most important, only Islam engages in the systematic killing and terrorism that results in forced conversion to the Muslim Religion. We once received an email from a Catholic in Pakistan, which ended, “have to go now, there’s a bomb threat up the street” After that, silence. So, you are saying some sneers by Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Jon Stewart, et. al. , the BBC, The New York Times, are worse than this?
    Perhaps you should gain some firsthand experience – make an investigative journey -go to Pakistan, Saudi, Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Sudan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Somalia, Yemen, or any of the scores of Islamic countries. You could, for example, go to daily Mass in Indonesia.  Try not to think of the prior 700 bombings of Christian churches in that country.  Or, try Saudi Arabia first. Every morning, wear your Cross & chain, go out onto the street, and ask the location of the local Catholic Church, so you can go to daily Mass.  Jot down in your notebook, what happens….

  • Italo

    George, I am sorry to say this, but you are completly brainwashed on the issue of the so-could threatning Islam.
    The threat of the existing Islam is nothing compared to the strength of our faith , if we really live up to it.

    And to go back in the past is even more silly, we cannot undo history , but we have to live with the possibilities of today.
    And in Africa the cristians are growing in large numbers, so you should read more on the Vatican website.

  • Italo

    And the Cristians ( USA ) and the Yews ( Israel ) shoot their killing rockets from helicopters, planes and drones on the civilian population in order to hit some militants.
    And is not a matter of who started it, but we must stop it and start talking to each other.

  • Italo

    Go on the streets of the USA and Israel or the UK and protest aiganst their conduct towards the Palestinions and other Moslim people and you will find your self arrested and you will loose your job and house and you will and up in the gutter.

  • LocutusOP

    By the time the aggressive atheists are done, you might very well be forbidden from owning a Bible or passing on your faith to your children. I believe it’s one of those atheists you listed who stated that parents should be forbidden from transmitting their faith to their offspring.

    Nonetheless, as I’ve written on this site before, there is a concerted media interest in creating a Muslim-Christian divide and painting everything as a war between the two religions. It helps nobody but the war-mongers and those who stand to make money from such wars – either through selling newspapers, weapons or fear.

    There are many countries in which Muslims and Christians live side-by-side and Muslims and Christians have lived side-by-side for centuries – not always harmoniously but certainly without the sort of clashes we are now witnessing. All the great capitals of the Middle East stand witness to this fact (with the notable exception of Saudi Arabia, of course).

    Meanwhile, Jesus said that we should remove the log from our own eyes before we remove the speck from our neighbour’s. I see Western countries (granted, under secular rule) with support from self-professed Christians bombing and oppressing Muslims (and in fact even others) who refuse to subjugate themselves to global imperialism. They gladly use the excuse of a Muslim-Christian divide, and Muslims, seeing this, will naturally draw the conclusion that their religion is under attack – since it is Western countries which attack Muslim ones and not the other way around. I see very few Christians refusing to vote for politicians who endorse this warfare. I see self-professed Christians enthusiastically voting for politicians who endorse the killing of the unborn, the vulnerable and the elderly, who would subjugate us all to debt, and still there’s very little organised condemnation of these people’s actions.

    The Pope’s point is that we ought to remove the log from our eyes because it is only this, and not the speck in our neighbours’ eyes, which can make us blind and separate us from the Kingdom of God.

  • Romy

    Sorry, I Italo.  You should not be so complacent on the threat of Islam.  Knowing history is very important to gain perspective and understanding.
    Lastly, George did not say that Christians are not growing in Africa but that they are increasingly under siege by the spread of Islam there.

  • Tiddles the Cat


    O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

  • George

    There’s plenty of logs to go around here.  Abortion is the log in the eye of Western countries (not the Catholic Church).  Jihadist Terror and religious persecution are the logs in the eye of Islam.  So, why, if you acknowledge the one, can’t you acknowledge the other?  And why the dissembling about this purported “side by side tolerant living relationship between Muslims and Christians”? Where is this? In Cairo, with the Copts?  As in Iraq, and Pakistan, and Indonesia, Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, and the Phillipines, and Malaysia, and Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan, and Sudan, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, and dozens of other Islamic countries, which promote warfare on Christians?   Are you denying the continual reign of terror that Christians undergo in these countries?  Are you denying the attacks of 911, London, and Spain, or think of them as not Islamic? Don’t you know that there have been scores of other attacks planned by Muslims in the US and Britain, (luckily, most prevented by the police), and hundreds of global attacks, in many European countries such as Russia? This “global imperialism” you speak of, as the excuse for this terrorism, is nought but Islamic propaganda, meant to lull to sleep Westerners about the real goal of Islam, world domination, and the elimination of Christianity. 

  • Parasum

    “The Church should fear the sin of its own members more than hatred against Christians, Pope Benedict XVI said.”

    ## Maybe he should be specific, and point out that – at least recently – the clergy & religious have been more eminent in sin than the laity. Pointing this out would have the incidental and indirect benefit of informing the public at large that wickedness in those two groups is something that troubles him especially. If the public can see that what has happened is vile beyond words, the Pope should of all men be able to. (No, one is not asking the man to be emotional, still less to weep crocodile tears - only to send the right signals.)

    A vicious clergy & criminal body of religious has unrivalled power to rot the Church – just as holy priests are a leaven to raise the tone of the laity they serve. The Pope & the rest of the bishops can forget about Divine protection for the Church if crimes against “the faithful of Christ” are overlooked or unpunished.