Aide: Papal Surprises Promote Communion


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ROME, JULY 4, 2010 ( For Benedict XVI, Church communion is the priority, even if that means taking steps that might surprise the public, says Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

The Jesuit priest is the director of the Vatican press office, and he made this assertion on the most recent edition of Vatican Television's "Octava Dies." He was referring to two papal audiences that sought to heal wounds within the episcopate.

On June 28, the Pope met with Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

And on July 1, he received the retired archbishop of Augsburg, Germany, Walter Mixa, subsequently confirming the bishop's resignation due to "mistakes and errors," which led to a loss of confidence, but also asking the German episcopate to embrace and help the prelate.

"Several times the Pope has repeated that the gravest dangers and temptations for the Church come from within," Father Lombardi observed. "In difficult times, like those that we are now experiencing, tensions from outside make it easier for internal tensions to surface and this contributes to increased confusion and uncertainty."

The Pope's audiences with Cardinals Schönborn and Sodano, along with that of Bishop Mixa, demonstrate "that he personally works in every way to heal the tensions and misunderstandings that trouble the community," the spokesman contended.

He cited the Vatican press release that followed the audience with Bishop Mixa: "In a time of contrasts and insecurity the world expects Christians to show harmonious witness on the basis of their encounter with the risen Lord, with which they help one another and the whole of society to find the right path to the future."

"These," Father Lombardi concluded, "are the Pope's sentiments, his exquisite and clear evangelical witness. We must follow it."