Did Pope Francis say Protestants are part of the Church?

In today’s Vatican News Service I saw the following quote from Pope Francis during his visit with an Pentecostal pastor:

“When instead we stop, we scrutinise each other too much, and we set out on another path, that of gossip. … And in this way it begins, from the first moment the division of the Church began. And it is not the Holy Spirit who causes division! … From the very beginning there has been this temptation in the Christian community. ‘I am from this group, you are from that one’, ‘No! I am the Church, you are a sect’, and so on. … The Holy Spirit creates diversity in the Church … diversity, rich and beautiful. But, at the same time, the Holy Spirit creates unity, and so the Church is one in her diversity. To borrow a phrase used by an evangelical, a phrase I love, it is the ‘reconciled diversity’ of the Holy Spirit, Who creates both of these things: diversity in charisms, and harmony in charisms”.

Where he says that “I am the Church…” or “…diversity in the Church…” is telling me that there is one Church that includes Catholics and Protestants, which is not how I thought it was. There is one church and it is Holy Mother Church or the Catholic Church. Other churches are heretical. I don’t want to seem unchristian toward other churches but if we are now One Church and it does not matter whether you believe in the sacraments, then why would I care about going to confession or not divorcing my wife and remarrying, etc.

How is that in line with Church teaching? It can’t be. I very confused and concerned about where the Holy Father is going with all this.

Can someone help me with this?

Pope Francis was not saying that the Church includes Protestant Ecclesial Communities. In one sense, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, all the baptized are included in the Church:

838 “The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.” Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.”

However, those communities that are not in communion with the Holy See are not considered members of the Catholic Church.

Diversity already exists in the Catholic Church. There are the distinct ancient and venerable traditions of the Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as the varied traditions of the many cultures that are incorporated in the Latin Church. These varied traditions and religious cultures do not divide the Church but enrich Her.

Pope Francis is pointing out that a diversity of religious culture and traditions can exist within the one true Church. Unfortunately over the centuries Christians have sought to divide themselves rather than seek diversity within unity.

Pope Francis was essentially paraphrasing the Catechism:

814 From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God’s gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church’s members, there are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. “Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions.” The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church’s unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity. And so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

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