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 CNS Story:

POPE-WORLDLY Apr-30-2013 (430 words) xxxi

Becoming worldly, weak is church's biggest threat, pope says

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The biggest threat to the church is worldliness, Pope Francis said in his daily morning Mass homily.

A worldly church becomes weak, and while people of faith can look after the church, only God "can look evil in the eye and overpower it," he said April 30.

The pope celebrated the Mass with members of the Vatican's investment agency in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

The day's reading from the Gospel of St. John recounts Jesus telling his disciples, "I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming;" but Satan "has no power over me."

The pope said, "If we don't want the prince of this world to take the church in his hands, we have to entrust her to the only one who can defeat the prince of this world."

"Entrusting the church to the Lord is a prayer that makes the church grow" and is an act of faith because "we can do nothing. All of us are poor servants of the church," he said.

While people of faith can care for and look after the church, only God "can keep her going, safeguard her, make her grow, make her holy, defend her, defend her from the prince of this world and those who want the church to become, in short, more and more worldly."

"This is the biggest danger," he said, "when the church becomes worldly, when she has the spirit of the world within herself."

The peace the church needs is the kind only Jesus, not the world, can give, he said. It is a "peace that is a true gift of the presence of Jesus in the midst of his church."

When the church possesses "that worldly peace," the church becomes weak, defeated "and incapable of truly carrying the Gospel -- the message of the cross, the scandal of the cross," he said.

Pope Francis also asked that people include every member of the church in their prayers, especially the young, old, infirm, persecuted and those struggling with problems. Pray to God to watch over them: "They are yours, they are ours," he said.

If people entrust the church and everyone in the church to the Lord, "he will give us, in the midst of tribulations, the peace that only he can give," the pope said. It "will do us and the church good."

He also asked that "The Lord make us strong so we do not lose faith, so we do not lose hope."

END


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