Yesterday, I shared the general audience address of Pope Francis from last week on Christian unity. Today I would like to offer some simple commentary and explanation of this amazing address.
The pope began his audience by saying:
Today I will focus upon another expression with which the Second Vatican Council indicates the nature of the Church: that of the body, the Council says that the Church is the Body of Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium, 7).
Lumen Gentium, in English, means: “The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.” It is one of sixteen dogmatic documents that make up the whole of Vatican Council II’s work. Lumen Gentium was the third of the sixteen formal documents, or decrees, that were passed by the council between October 1962 and December 8, 1965. Here is a part of that dogmatic constitution cited by Pope Francis last week:
The present-day conditions of the world add greater urgency to this work of the Church so that all men, joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties, might also attain fuller unity in Christ.
It is generally agreed that this “urgency” was one of the primary reasons for Vatican II. It is also understood that this is a primary reason for the “New Evangelization” – now a major part of official Catholic teaching. I, for one, pray that the new evangelization will grow and capture the hearts and minds of millions of Catholics, especially in the U.S.
He then added to this quotation from Lumen Gentium his own words, saying:
I would like to start from a text of the Acts of the Apostles which we know well: the conversion of Saul, who will then be called Paul, one of the greatest evangelists (cf. Acts 9:4-5). Saul was a persecutor of Christians, but while he is on the road leading to the city of Damascus, suddenly a light envelops him, he falls to the ground and hears a voice saying “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? He asks: “Who are you, Lord?”, And the voice answers: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (v. 3-5). This experience of St. Paul tells us how deep the union between we Christians and Christ Himself