We are a church, an assembly of people gathered to do the work of God. This work brings us together around the table of the Lord and sends us out to renew the face of the earth.
The task that faces us in the world is awesome, and the obstacles are formidable. The only way we can succeed is by staying together, with Jesus in our midst, and our staying together must involve community efforts to correct our faults. When there is racism or sexism in our church, we must confront them and work to eliminate them.
When economic injustice is found in our church institutions, we must speak out against it and work to eliminate it. When militarism makes its way into the fabric of our community, we must stand up for peace and proclaim the gospel message of nonviolent change.
Owe no debt to anyone except the debt that binds us to love one another. An essential component of that love should be the help we give each other in overcoming the shortcomings that get in the way of our becoming a universal sacrament of salvation.
We must serve the Church and love her as she is, with a clear understanding of history, and humbly searching for the will of God who assists and guides her even when at times He permits human weakness to eclipse the purity of her features and the beauty of her action. It is this purity and beauty which we are endeavoring to discover and promote
Pope Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, 1964: 49