Pope Francis continued his series of Wednesday general audiences on the Church and emphasized that belonging to the Church is essential to being a Christian.
“We are Christians because we belong to the Church," Pope Francis said. “It’s like a last name: if the first name is ‘I am a Christian,’ the last name is ‘I belong to the Church.’”
“No one becomes a Christian by himself,” the Pope continued, as he explained that Christians receive their faith in baptism and through catechesis. He asked those assembled in St. Peter’s Square to recall the faces of parents, grandparents, priests, nuns, and others who taught them the sign of the cross, prayers, and the content of the faith. “I always remember the face of the nun who taught me catechism,” he said, as he called the Church “a large family.”
“There are those who believe you can have a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside of the communion and the mediation of the Church,” he continued. “These are dangerous and harmful temptations.”
The Pope concluded by asking the Virgin Mary to pray “the grace never to fall into the temptation” of thinking that we do not need the Church. “On the contrary, you cannot love God without loving the brothers, you cannot love God outside of the Church; you cannot be in communion with God without being in the Church.” http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=21814