Rorate Caeli

"The unity of the Spirit is manifested in the plurality of understanding"

The Spirit triggers a process of reunification of the divided and dispersed parts of the human family; persons, often reduced to individuals in competition or in conflict with each other, reached by the Spirit of Christ, open themselves to the experience of communion, can involve them to such an extent as to make of them a new organism, a new subject: the Church. This is the effect of God’s work: unity; thus unity is the sign of recognition, the “business card” of the Church in the course of her universal history. From the very beginning, from the day of Pentecost, she speaks all languages. The universal Church precedes the particular Churches, and the latter must always conform to the former according to a criterion of unity and universality. The Church never remains a prisoner within political, racial and cultural confines; she cannot be confused with states not with federations of states, because her unity is of a different type and aspires to transcend every human frontier.

From this, dear brothers, there derives a practical criterion of discernment for Christian life: When a person or a community, limits itself to its own way of thinking and acting, it is a sign that it has distanced itself from the Holy Spirit. The path of Christians and of the particular Churches must always confront itself with the path of the one and catholic Church, and harmonize with it. This does not mean that the unity created by the Holy Spirit is a kind of homogenization. On the contrary, that is rather the model of Babel, that is, the imposition of a culture of unity that we could call “technological.” The Bible, in fact, tells us (cf. Genesis 11:1-9) that in Babel everyone spoke the same language. At Pentecost, however, the Apostles speak different languages in such a way that everyone understands the message in his own tongue. The unity of the Spirit is manifested in the plurality of understanding. The Church is one and multiple by her nature, destined as she is to live among all nations, all peoples, and in the most diverse social contexts. She responds to her vocation to be a sign and instrument of unity of the human race (cf. “Lumen Gentium,” 1) only if she remains free from every state and every particular culture. Always and in every place the Church must truly be catholic and universal, the house of all in which each one can find a place.

Pope Benedict XVI

Homily for Pentecost

May 23, 2010


Jacobitess said...

A magnificent statement! I had always felt that one of the strongest arguments for the Church was that the more universal she is, the more intimacy she achieves with the individual. With the intrusion of a group, majority or minority, there comes division. With the introduction of cultural principles, cultures are divided.

Let a chasuble be embroidered as it will, according to the reverence of any people, so long as a chasuble is worn. Let absolution be given in any tongue, so long as there is Confession. We are simultaneously One and Catholic.

Anonymous said...


if you think that there's something wrong with groups, divisions, hirarchy, families and there should be only lonely monades united in the universal Church - you don't understand anything.

Anonymous said...

Why is even a chasuble necessary? It is a culturally conditioned item as well. So is the stole, and every sacred vestment and article used in the liturgy. Your thesis is disconnected from reality.


"We are simultaneously One and Catholic."

What does that mean? If we were only Catholic, we wouldn't be One? If we were only One, we wouldn't be Catholic?

A Catholic is one with Christ, not "One." If you are are Catholic, you are unified with the Mystical Body of Christ. If you are not Catholic, you do not share in this unity.

How can the Church be "more universal" than She already is? How does the Gospel lack universality?! It is the Church's nature to be universal. But this universal nature does NOT demand a total negation of her historical, accidental properties. That is an unrealistic thesis.

You might as well stand on the sidelines while Christ is preaching and demand that He stop speaking ONLY Aramaic, or that He wear Greek, Roman, or Persian clothes.

The Latin West historically became the Church's native culture. This is an irretrievable reality obviously willed by God or it would not have happened. To deny it now, would be to lose the Church's entire historically manifested identity. It cannot be done. It would be a negation of order which God never does nor expects us to do, but which Lucifer enjoys doing.


Paul Haley said...

"The unity of the Spirit is manifested in the plurality of understanding"

What exactly is plurality of understanding? Does that mean that all who hear understand correctly the doctrines and dogmas proclaimed by the Church or, does it mean that all understand what is heard according to their own conceptual bias? Once again, we see words that can be taken in one of two ways or, even in many different ways. The Holy Spirit, it would seem, would require the same understanding, not different ones.

Anonymous said...

The most salutary and effective way that Holy Mother Church has ever shown Her universality [Catholicism] was the universal offering of Her Mass in one form and language, in the Latin Rite.
The Traditional Latin Mass.

I believe that this is what the Holy Father is trying to state.


Anonymous said...

The statement of the Holy Father of itself has nothing wrong with it; its the suspicious of others that put a bad light on it.

Obivously, if the Greeks say prosperon and the Lating persona, or they ousia and we substance, those cultural differencees, while they have been an occsion of misunderstastandings, the Church lead by great saints has overcome and moreover this difference of cultures has been very fruitful for understanding the profound truths revealed in the Deposit, ever more profoundly.

This is an example of what the Holy Father is talking about. He is after all a theologian.

The kind of individual who looks for first for problems in papal speeches, rather than lessons, already has a problem with his faith.

Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Anonymous said...

Well, brother, I for one was responding to Jacobitess's post, not the these statements by the Holy Father.


Anonymous said...

I can't help but compare this sermon, and the Pope's other works, such as Caritas in Veritate, with the letter of Pius X. Pius wrote so directly, clearly, and unambiguously. There was such clarity in older documents and former Popes were unapologetic in their defense of the Church. Pope Benedict is a good priest, but is he doing what a Pope should do to lead the Church? I'm particularly concerned with the Pope's response to the Legion of Christ scandal and his attitude toward bad bishops like Sodano and Schonborn.

Anonymous said...

Anon 14:17, You should compare Pius XI's "Mortalium Animos" with JPII"s "Ut Unam Sint". 13 pages vs. 116 pages. Good luck!

Joe B said...

"The unity of the Spirit is manifested in the plurality of understanding"

I think the choice of words is poor. The most common meaning of plurality of understanding is that people understand something differently, although I doubt most people have any idea what it means (hello, unity in diversity). I think he meant something like 'unity is manifested in the common understanding of so many people of diverse ages and backgrounds,' but I understand the need for the liberal mind to impress with creative wording. Simple and straightforward - not.