On Immaculate's Day, B16 Recalls "The Sins of the Church"
[U]pon the head of the woman clothed in the sun there is “a crown of twelve stars.” This sign represents the 12 tribes of Israel and means that the Virgin Mary is at the center of the People of God, of the whole communion of saints. And thus this image of the crown of twelve stars introduces us to the second great interpretation of the celestial sign of the “woman clothed in the sun”: besides representing our Lady, this sign personifies the Church, the Christian community of all times. She is pregnant, in the sense that she carries Christ in her womb and must bear him for the world: this is the suffering of the pilgrim Church on earth, who in the midst of God’s consolations and the world’s persecution must bring Jesus to men.(Emphases added.)
It is precisely for this, because she brings Jesus, that the Church meets the opposition of a ferocious adversary, represented in the Book of Revelation by the “great red dragon” (Revelation 12:3). This dragon sought in vain to devour Jesus – the “male child destined to govern all the nations” (12:5). The dragon tries in vain because Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has ascended to God and he has taken his seat upon his throne. This is why the dragon, defeated once and for all in heaven, turns his attacks toward to the woman – the Church – in the wilderness of the world. But in every age the Church is sustained by the light and by the power of God, which nourishes her in the wilderness with the bread of his Word and the Holy Eucharist. And so in every tribulation, through all of the trials that she meets in the course time and in different parts of the world, the Church suffers persecution but is always victorious in the end. And precisely in this way the Christian community is the presence, the guarantee of God’s love against every ideology of hatred and [selfishness].
The only threat the Church can and must fear is the sin of her members. While, in fact, Mary is the Immaculate, free from every stain of sin, the Church is holy, but at the same time she is stained by our sins. This is why the People of God, in pilgrimage through time, turns to its heavenly Mother and implores her help; it asks this so that she might accompany us on the journey of faith, that she might encourage the undertaking of a Christian life and support our hope. We need her above all in this very difficult moment for Italy, for Europe, for various parts of the world. Mary helps us to see that there is a light beyond the dark clouds that seems to envelop reality. For this reason we too, especially on this occasion, do not cease ask for her help with filial confidence: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Ora pro nobis, intercede pro nobis ad Dominum Iesum Christum!