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Our differences make the Church beautiful: Pope Francis during General Audience

The rain and clouds showed up, along with thousands of pilgrims, to Wednesdays General Audience with Pope Francis. But it didn't keep him from making his way around the crowd, under the rain, but always with a smile.   

POPE FRANCIS "It's clear that with such an ugly day, you are very courageous to be here. Congratulations!�

In his prepared remarks, Pope Francis spoke about what the word Catholic means, and what makes the Church Catholic. He began by saying that the Church is the home of the true faith and salvation, the place where people meet Jesus through the Sacraments.

His second point was that the Church is Catholic because it's universal: it welcomes everyone, and reaches all corners of the globe.   POPE FRANCIS "The Church is not just the shadow of our bell tower. It embraces a vastness of people and populations that profess the same faith. They're nurtured through the same Eucharist, they're served by the same Pastors. Feel the communion with the other Churches, with all the Catholic communities, small or large, in the world.â?

The Pope also said the Church is Catholic because it brings together diverse cultures into harmony and unity. He said uniformity kills the gifts God gave to each person, and that the world's diversity makes the Church stronger.

POPE FRANCIS "We are not all the same, and we should not all be the same. We are all diverse, different. Each one has their own qualities, and this is the beautiful thing about the Church. Each one contributes what God gave them to enrich all others.�

As he greeted the pilgrims in their respective languages, Pope Francis made a special mention of the one year mark since Benedict XVI decided to include Arabic in the general audience. He made the decision after his apostolic visit to Lebanon, to show the Church's nearness to Christians in the region.

POPE FRANCIS "I ask you to pray for peace in the Middle East: in Syria, in Iraq, in Egypt, in Lebanon, in the Holy Land, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.�

The Pope closed off the audience by greeting bishops from Ethiopia and Eritrea, where many of the immigrants killed at sea near Lampedusa came from. The group participated in a mass earlier in the morning to pray for the victims.

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