“You don’t touch a mother” – Pope Francis

“Our mother, [the Church] is holy, but we the children are sinners,” he said. “Sinners, all of us. Let’s not forget this expression from the fathers [of the Church]: The Church is holy, the Mother is holy, with children who are sinners.”

Pope Francis on Saturday closed the month-long Synod of bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. The official closing of the gathering will take place today Sunday.

“The Church is not dirty,” the Pope said. “The children are, but the mother isn’t. This is the moment to defend the mother with prayer. It’s a difficult moment, because through us, the great accuser [the devil] wants to attack the mother. And you don’t touch a mother.”

He said that the devil is persecuting the Church and that this persecution takes many forms. In the Middle East the persecution takes the form of violence while it can also be levelled against the Church by “constant accusations, to dirty the Church.”

The Pope delivered his  improvised remarks late on Saturday evening after a taxing day-long voting on the final document.

Francis said that there are two things about the Synod which are very dear to him. The first was a reminder that the Synod of Bishops is not a “parliament,” and that what happens in it is “protected,” meaning not fully shared with the outside world, so that the “the Holy Spirit can act.”

Second, Francis said that the result of the synod is a “document” that might or might not have an impact outside of the synod hall, “but it must have an impact on us. It must work in us.”

He appealed to the participants in the Synod to study this document and  pray on it to allow the “Holy Spirit to work in our hearts.”