The Holy Father reflects on nature of the Church in St Peter's Square

Pope Francis reflected on the apostolic nature of the Catholic Church at his general audience this morning.

He said that when Catholics declare that they believe in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” at Masses they “underline the deep and constitutive link between the Church and the Apostles, a small group of 12 that Jesus has gathered around Himself to stay with Him and to send them to teach”.

The Holy Father then focused on three meanings of the word “apostolic”.

First of all, he said, the Church is apostolic because Jesus founded it upon the Apostles’ preaching and prayer after having chosen them.

“St Paul compares the Christians to living stones that create the Church’s temple. This temple has the Apostles as its columns and Christ as the stone that supports it,” he said.

The Church, he explained, is also apostolic because it preserves over the centuries the fullness of Christ’s teaching, “the Holy Scripture, the doctrine, the sacraments, the ministry of pastors, so that we can be faithful to Christ and we may share His own life”.

Finally, Pope Francis said the Church is apostolic because it accomplishes over the centuries the mission that Christ entrusted to the Apostles.

“She is sent to bring the Gospel all over the world,” he said. “She looks to the future with the firm awareness of being sent and of being a missionary.”