By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – There is no place for discrimination or divisive distinctions among people who believe in Christ, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience.
That everyone is made new and equal in Christ overcomes all ethnic, economic and social differences, even between the two sexes, “establishing an equality between man and woman which was revolutionary at the time and which needs to be reaffirmed even today,” he said Sept. 8 to those gathered in the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.
“How many times we hear expressions that denigrate women,” he said, adding that even today women experience a kind of slavery in which “women do not have the same opportunities as men.”
The pope continued his series of talks on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians by looking at what faith in Christ brings.
With faith and baptism, people become new creatures, “clothed” with Christ and children of God in Christ, the apostle writes. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The pope said this shows how “baptism, therefore, is not merely an external rite. Those who receive it are transformed deep within, in their inmost being, and possess new life” with an identity that is so new “that it prevails over the differences that exist on the ethnic-religious level” and social and economic levels.
St. Paul’s teaching was “shocking” and “revolutionary” at a time when distinctions, for example, between slaves and free citizens “was vital in ancient society,” the pope said.
“By law, free citizens enjoyed all rights, while the human dignity of slaves was not even recognized,” he said.
The same thing is happening to many people in the world today, “who do not have the right to eat, who do not have the right to education, who do not have the right to work. They are the new slaves. They are the ones who live on the margins, who are exploited by everyone” and whose human dignity is denied, he said.
“Equality in Christ overcomes the social differences between the two sexes, establishing an equality between man and woman,” he said, calling for a reaffirmation of this truth.
St. Paul “confirms the profound unity that exists between all the baptized, in whatever condition they are bound to, because every one of them is a new creature in Christ. Every distinction becomes secondary to the dignity of being children of God.”
Therefore, “it is decisive even for all of us today to rediscover the beauty of being children of God, to be brothers and sisters among ourselves, because we have been united in Christ, who redeemed us,” he said.
Differences and conflicts caused by separation “should not exist among believers in Christ,” he said, cautioning against creating differences between people, “many times unconsciously.”
“Rather, our vocation is that of making concrete and evident the call to unity of the entire human race.”
“Everything that exacerbates the differences between people, often causing discrimination – all of this, before God, no longer has any meaning, thanks to the salvation effected in Christ.”