ROME, October 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The Great Accuser took center stage at the climax of the Vatican Youth Synod, with Pope Francis saying it is time to defend the Church against his constant attacks.
In concluding remarks to bishops, young people and other synod participants gathered in the synod hall on Saturday, the Pope said the “Great Accuser” is persecuting the Church through “constant accusations meant to sully” her.
“Our Mother is Holy, but we children are sinners. We are all sinners. Let us not forget that expression of the Fathers, the casta meretrix, the Holy Church, the Holy Mother with sinful children,” he said.
St. Ambrose, the fourth-century Father of the Church who baptized St. Augustine, first used the expression “casta meretrix” [chaste harlot] in his commentary on St. Luke’s Gospel, to apply to the Church the symbolism of Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho who sheltered and saved fugitive Israelites in her home (Joshua 2:1-24).
Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, a scholar of St. Ambrose who preached Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 Lenten retreat and wrote a book on the Ambrosian saying, explains the meaning of the startling expression in this way:
The expression “casta meretrix,” far from being a reference to sinfulness and guilt, this phrase actually refers to the holiness of the Church; and this reference is made not merely by means of the adjective, “casta,” but through the noun. Furthermore, this holiness consists as much in her clear and unswerving loyalty to Christ her Bridegroom (“casta”) as in the desire of the Church to reach all in order to bring them to salvation (‘meretrix’).