Pope asks God to free Catholics from the ‘disease’ of division

Pope Francis stops before a statue of Mary in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta May 4, 2020. Credit: Vatican News.

Jesus died for everyone, but disordered attachment to one’s own ideas can cause divisions which break the unity of God’s people, Pope Francis said at Mass this morning.

“There are ideas, positions that create division, to the point that the division is more important than unity,” the pope said May 4. People think “my idea is more important than the Holy Spirit who guides us.”

Francis called division a “disease of the Church, a disease which arises from ideologies or religious factions…”

Throughout the Church’s history there has always been a spirit of thinking one’s self to be righteous and others to be sinners, he said, describing it as an “us and the others” attitude, which says others are already condemned, while “we have the right position before God.”

Speaking from the chapel of his Vatican residence, the Casa Santa Marta, Francis emphasized that Jesus died for everyone.

Imagining a dialogue with someone questioning the statement, he said, “‘But did [Jesus] also die for that low-life who made my life impossible?’ He died for him too. ‘And for that crook?’ He died for him.”

“For everyone,” Francis underlined. “And also for people who do not believe in him or are of other religions: he died for everyone.”

Without using a name, the pope referenced a retired cardinal living inside the Vatican, who, he said, likes to say “the Church is like a river,” with different people being like different parts of the river.

“But the important thing is that everyone is inside the river,” the pope said. “This is the unity of the Church.”

The Church is a wide river, “because the Lord wants it so.”

Pope Francis quoted a verse from the day’s Gospel reading, John 10:11-18, when Jesus says: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

Jesus is saying “I am Shepherd of everyone,” the pope explained. “Everyone: Big and small, rich and poor, good and bad.”

Pointing to the divisions in the Church after the Second Vatican Council, he said it is permissible to think differently from one another, but always “in the unity of the Church, under Jesus the Shepherd.”

He prayed that the Lord would free Catholics from the illness of division and help them to see “this great thing from Jesus, that in him we are all brothers and he is the Shepherd of all.”

Pope Francis offered the day’s Mass for families, that in this time of quarantine because of the coronavirus pandemic they will continue to try new and creative things together and with their children.

He also acknowledged the reality of domestic violence, asking for prayers for families “to continue in peace with creativity and patience in this quarantine.”

After Mass, the pope led those following the Mass via livestream in an act of spiritual communion. He concluded with Eucharistic adoration and benediction.