Pope Benedict: We are the Church

Personally being with Christ, with the living God, is one thing: another is that we can only ever believe within the "we". I sometimes say that Saint Paul wrote: "Faith comes from hearing" – not from reading.

It needs reading as well, but it comes from hearing, that is to say from the living word, addressed to me by the other, whom I can hear, addressed to me by the Church throughout the ages, from her contemporary word, spoken to me the priests, bishops and my fellow believers.

Faith must include a "you" and it must include a "we". And it is very important to practise this mutual support, to learn how to accept the other as the other in his otherness, and to learn that he has to support me in my otherness, in order to become "we", so that we can also build community in the parish, calling people into the community of the word, and journeying with one another towards the living God.

This requires the very particular "we" that is the seminary, and also the parish, but it also requires us always to look beyond the particular, limited "we" towards the great "we" that is the Church of all times and places: it requires that we do not make ourselves the sole criterion.

When we say: "We are Church" – well, it is true: that is what we are, we are not just anybody. But the "we" is more extensive than the group that asserts those words. The "we" is the whole community of believers, today and in all times and places.

And so I always say: within the community of believers, yes, there is as it were the voice of the valid majority, but there can never be a majority against the apostles or against the saints: that would be a false majority.

We are Church: let us be Church, let us be Church precisely by opening ourselves and stepping outside ourselves and being Church with others. 

- Pope Benedict XVI

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Meeting with seminarians (Apostolic journey to Germany/Vatican website)

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