Pope says ‘we are church,’ but only when united, faithful to tradition

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

FREIBURG, Germany (CNS) — Meeting seminarians in Freiburg, Pope Benedict XVI made a rare, direct comment about a group seeking major changes in church practice and discipline.

“Some people say, ‘we are church’ and they are right, we are church,” the pope said Sept. 24 in a conversation with the seminarians.

The We Are Church movement began in Austria in 1995 and spread internationally; its supporters have called for greater lay participation in church decision-making, the ordination of women and of married men, and for church acceptance of homosexuality.

The pope said the “we” that is the church “is much larger than that small group. It’s the worldwide church — the whole community of believers today and in all places and times.”

Pope Benedict, who was staying at the seminary, spoke to the candidates for priesthood without a prepared text. Vatican Radio’s German program posted a transcript of the pope’s remarks on its website.

The pope told the seminarians that while the opinions and convictions of members of the Catholic community are important, “there can never be a majority against the Apostles — that would be a false majority.”

Developments in Catholic life and practice must be in line with church tradition and undertaken in unity with the pope and bishops, the successors of the Apostles, he said.

“We are church, yes, but in the broader sense,” the pope told the seminarians. “Let’s be church by opening ourselves and reaching out to others.”