The Truth Lived in Love
To the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The “synodal dynamic” is to be promoted and implemented in the Church at all levels. This was the Pope’s recommendation during an audience in the Clementine Hall on Friday morning, 29 January , to participants in the Plenary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The following is a translation of the Pope’s address, which he delivered in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am meeting with you at the close of your Plenary Session. I cordially greet and thank the Cardinal Prefect for his kind words. We are now in the Holy Year of Mercy. I hope that in this Jubilee Year all members of the Church may renew their faith in Jesus Christ who is the face of the Father’s mercy, the path that unites God and man. Thus, mercy is the cornerstone that supports the life of the Church: the first truth of the Church, indeed, it is the love of Christ.
So, how could we not hope that all Christian people — pastors and faithful — rediscover and place back at the centre, during the Jubilee, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy? And when, in the twilight of life, we are asked if we fed the hungry or gave drink to the thirsty, likewise we will be asked if we helped people overcome doubt, whether we were committed to welcoming sinners, admonishing or correcting them, whether we were able to combat ignorance, above all that regarding the Christian faith and an upright life. This attention to works of mercy is important: this is not a devotion. It is how we, as Christians, further the spirit of mercy in practice. Once, in these years, I received an important Movement in the Paul VI Hall; it was packed. And I touched upon the subject of the works of mercy. I stopped and I posed the question: “Who among you remembers the spiritual and corporal works of mercy? Whoever remembers them, raise your hand”. No more than 20 did, in a hall of 7,000. We must go back to teaching this to the faithful; it is so important.
In faith and charity there is a cognitive and unifying relationship with the mystery of Love, which is God himself. And, although God remains a mystery in himself, God’s mercy became effective in Jesus, who is affective mercy, as he himself became man for the salvation of men. The task entrusted to your Dicastery finds here its ultimate foundation and its proper justification. The Christian faith, indeed, is not simply knowledge to be preserved in memory, but rather truth to be lived in love. Thus, together with the Doctrine of the Faith, we also need to safeguard the integrity of customs, especially those in the most sensitive areas of life. Adhering in faith to the Person of Christ implies both an act of reason and a moral response to his gift. In this regard, I thank you for all the commitment and responsibility that you exercise in treating cases of abuse of minors by members of the clergy.
Care for the integrity of the faith and of customs is a delicate task. Collegial commitment is important in carrying out this mission effectively. Your Congregation highly values the contribution of the Consultors and Commissions, whom I would like to thank for their valuable and humble work; and I encourage you to continue your method of treating questions in your weekly congress and the more substantial ones in the Ordinary or Plenary Session. Correct synodality must be promoted at all levels of ecclesial life. In this regard, last year you organized a timely meeting — with the representatives of the Doctrinal Commissions of the European Episcopal Conferences — to collegially address some doctrinal and pastoral challenges. Thus, you contributed to awakening in the faithful a new missionary impetus and a greater opening to the transcendent dimension of life, without which Europe is at risk of losing that humanistic spirit that it loves and defends. I invite you to continue to intensify with such advisory bodies, which help Episcopal Conferences and individual bishops in their solicitude for sound doctrine, at a time of rapid change and the growing complexity of problems.
Another of your important contributions to the renewal of ecclesial life is the study on the complementarity between hierarchical and charismatic gifts. According to the logic of unity — a logic that characterizes every authentic form of communion in the People of God —, hierarchical and charismatic gifts, legitimately different, are called to work in synergy for the good of the Church and of the world. The testimony of this complementarity is all the more urgent today and it represents an eloquent expression of that ordered pluriformity that connotes every ecclesial fabric, as a reflection of the harmonious communion that lives in the heart of the Triune God. The relationship between hierarchical and charismatic gifts, in fact, refers back to its Trinitarian root, in the bond between the Divine Incarnate Logos and the Holy Spirit, who is always a gift of the Father and the Son. In fact, if this root is recognized and received with humility, it enables the Church to renew herself in every era as “a people united in one in the unity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, according to the expression of St Cyprian (De Oratione Dominica, n. 23). Unity and pluriformity are the seal of a Church that, moved by the Spirit, is able to set out with a sure and faithful step towards those goals that the Risen Lord indicates to her in the course of history. Here one clearly sees how the synodal dynamic, if correctly understood, is born of communion and leads to an ever more realized, deepened and expanded communion at the service of the life and mission of the People of God.
Dear brothers and sisters, I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and I trust in yours for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you.
Weekly Edition in English
5 February 2016, page 4
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