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Monday, February 22, 1999

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Chair of St. Peter

1 Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 23
Matthew 16:13-19

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finding elusive church unity

"I for My part declare to you, you are 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build My Church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it. I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." —Matthew 16:18-19

Because the Church, the body of Christ, is not united, it has not been successful in upholding the permanence of marriage for millions of married couples in the Western world. Moreover, the Church, in her disunity and consequent weakness, has seemed powerless to stop contraception, abortion, and euthanasia in our culture of death. The price we have paid for our disunity in the Church has been very high.

How has the Lord provided for His Church to be and stay united? In one Spirit, we have been baptized into the one body of Christ, the Church (1 Cor 12:13). The Holy Spirit makes the Church one (see Eph 4:3). He does this primarily by gracing us to submit ourselves to the authority of the Church as exercised by the bishops, the successors of the apostles, and by the Pope, the leader of the bishops and the successor of St. Peter. Without the authority of bishops, our human weakness inevitably results in severe divisions in the Church. Without the authority of the Pope, we have massive, fragmented, fragmenting, debilitating divisions in the Church. The experiment of Protestantism has clearly proven the need not only for bishops but also for the Pope, if the Church is to be united in the Spirit. Therefore, let us celebrate today's feast of the authority of Peter and his successors serving the unity of the Church.

Prayer:  Father, I will learn what the Church and the Pope teaches and joyfully submit to it.

Promise:  "Be examples to the flock, not lording it over those assigned to you, so that when the Chief Shepherd appears you will win for yourselves the unfading crown of glory." —1 Pt 5:3-4

Praise:  The successor of St. Peter, Pope John Paul II, fearlessly proclaimed the gospel of Christ in communist Cuba.

Reference:  (Order John Paul Speaks, our bulletin insert, for your parish or group.)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 23, 1998

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 27, 1998