Emphasizing in his homily May 8 that harmony and unity in the church are evidence of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis observed that, on the other hand, “A Church,where its people are always arguing and there are lobbies and people are betraying their brothers and sisters, is a Church where there is no Holy Spirit!”
Citing the Apostolic Fathers who settled the first major crisis in the Church at the “first ecumenical council” in Jerusalem (Acts 15) through prayer and dialogue, the Holy Father implied that Christians today should follow the Apostolic Fathers’ example. They should “discuss [the] issue but like brothers and sisters and not like enemies. They don’t form external lobbies in order to win; they don’t go to the civil authorities in order to win and they don’t kill in order to triumph. They seek the path of prayer and dialogue.”
Discussions within the Church are to seek unity and harmony, not to prove that your opinion is right and that others’ are wrong. The purpose, rather, should be to discern the way of the Spirit through prayer and dialogue and in a spirit of humility.
Pope Francis recognized that change in the Church is constant and healthy. “It’s the Spirit that creates change, that creates the momentum for going ahead, that creates new spaces, and that creates that wisdom which Jesus promised: ‘It will teach you!’ That is what discernment is all about – asking the Spirit to teach us.”
The Church is not a political body, nor is it a democracy. Efforts to lobby or to use media to win others to a particular point of view are not only misunderstanding the nature of the Church, but also are both prideful and presumptuous. It is God’s will, not ours, that we seek.