Monday, September 30, 2013

The Medium [the Catechist] is the Message of the "New Evangelization"

Francis to Catechists 9/29/13

Blogger: The Self-gift of the Catechist is the Message Itself [As Was Christ].

1. “Woe to the complacent in Zion, to those who feel secure … lying upon beds of ivory!” (Am 6:1,4). They eat, they drink, they sing, they play and they care nothing about other people’s troubles.
These are harsh words which the prophet Amos speaks, yet they warn us about a danger that all of us face. What is it that this messenger of God denounces; what does he want his contemporaries, and ourselves, to realize? The danger of complacency, comfort, worldliness in our lifestyles and in our hearts, of making our well-being the most important thing in our lives. This was the case of the rich man in the Gospel, who dressed in fine garments and daily indulged in sumptuous banquets; this was what was important for him. And the poor man at his doorstep who had nothing to relieve his hunger? That was none of his business, it didn’t concern him. Whenever material things, money, worldliness, become the centre of our lives, they take hold of us, they possess us; we lose our very identity as human beings. The rich man in the Gospel has no name, he is simply “a rich man”. Material things, his possessions, are his face; he has nothing else. Let’s try to think: How does something like this happen? How do some people, perhaps ourselves included, end up becoming self-absorbed and finding security in material things which ultimately rob us of our face, our human face? This is what happens when we no longer remember God. If we don’t think about God, everything ends up being about “me” and my own comfort. Life, the world, other people, all of these become unreal, they no longer matter, everything boils down to one thing: having. When we no longer remember God, we too become unreal, we too become empty; like the rich man in the Gospel, we no longer have a face! Those who run after nothing become nothing – as another great prophet Jeremiah, observed (cf. Jer 2:5). We are made in God’s image and likeness, not that of material objects, not that of idols!

2. So, as I look out at you, I think: Who are catechists? They are people who keep the memory of God alive; they keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others. This is something beautiful: to remember God, like the Virgin Mary, who sees God’s wondrous works in her life but doesn’t think about honour, prestige or wealth; she doesn’t become self-absorbed. Instead, after receiving the message of the angel and conceiving the Son of God, what does she do? She sets out, she goes to assist her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. And the first thing she does upon meeting Elizabeth is to recall God’s work, God’s fidelity, in her own life, in the history of her people, in our history: “My soul magnifies the Lord … For he has looked on the lowliness of his servant … His mercy is from generation to generation” (Lk 1:46, 48, 50). This canticle of Mary also contains the remembrance of her personal history, God’s history with her, her own experience of faith. And this is true too for each one of us and for every Christian: faith contains our own memory of God’s history with us, the memory of our encountering God who always takes the first step, who creates, saves and transforms us. Faith is remembrance of his word which warms our heart, and of his saving work which gives life, purifies us, cares for and nourishes us. A catechist is a Christian who puts this remembrance at the service of proclamation, not to be important, not to talk about himself or herself, but to talk about God, about his love and his fidelity - to speak and to transmit all that God has revealed, i.e. the teaching of Christ and His Church in its totality, neither adding nor subtracting anything.

Saint Paul recommends one thing in particular to his disciple and co-worker Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, whom I proclaim and for whom I suffer (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-9). The Apostle can say this because he too remembered Christ, who called him when he was persecuting Christians, who touched him and transformed him by his grace.

The catechist, then, is a Christian who is mindful of God, who is guided by the memory of God in his or her entire life and who is able to awaken that memory in the hearts of others. This is not easy! It engages our entire existence! What is the Catechism itself, if not the memory of God, the memory of his works in history and his drawing near to us in Christ present in his word, in the sacraments, in his Church, in his love? Dear catechists, I ask you: Are we in fact the memory of God? Are we really like sentinels who awaken in others the memory of God which warms the heart?3. “Woe to the complacent in Zion!”. What must we do in order not to be “complacent” – people who find their security in themselves and in material things – but men and woman of the memory of God? In the second reading, Saint Paul, once more writing to Timothy, gives some indications which can also be guideposts for us in our work as catechists: pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness (cf. 1 Tim 6:11).

Catechists are men and women of the memory of God if they have a constant, living relationship with him and with their neighbour; if they are men and women of faith who truly trust in God and put their security in him; if they are men and women of charity, love, who see others as brothers and sisters; if they are men and women of “hypomoné”, endurance and perseverance, able to face difficulties, trials and failures with serenity and hope in the Lord; if they are gentle, capable of understanding and mercy. Let us ask the Lord that we may all be men and women who keep the memory of God alive in ourselves, and are able to awaken it in the hearts of others. Amen.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sanctity Trumps Morality

But let's go a step further. Why would the Catholic "conservatives" be scandalized by the pope's insisting that first things be put first. Again, the apposite quote of Dr. Mirus: 

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods…. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things."

Blogger: But what is the essential and necessary? God. And this was the burden of Joseph Ratzinger's "The New Evangelization" in 2000 to the Catechists in Rome.

"Human life cannot be realized by itself. Our life is an open question, an incomplete project, still to be brought to fruition and realized. Each man´s fundamental question is: How will this be realized -- becoming man? How does one learn the art of living? Which is the path toward happiness?

   The contents essential for new evangelization
 "To evangelize means: to show this path -- to teach the art of living. At the beginning of his public life Jesus says: I have come to evangelize the poor (Luke 4:18); this means: I have the response to your fundamental question; I will show you the path of life, the path toward happiness -- rather: I am that path."

 And he explains it in the same terms as Francis: "God is encountered walking, along the path" [Interview]. And walking along the path of Abraham = leaving the comfort of his digs in Ur (Bagdad) = to walking out of himself. To escape from being "self-referential." And what is that path except the Person of Christ Who is the Revelation of the Father, and this because Jesus is constitutively out of Himself as "Son" of the Father. He is totally "from" and "for" the Father. Therefore, the first things of Judeo-Christianity is to be out of self for the Father and for the others. Hence, Ratzinger wrote in his "New Evangelization:"

1. Conversion
As for the contents of new evangelization, first of all we must keep in mind the inseparability of the Old and the New Testaments. The fundamental content of the Old Testament is summarized in the message by John the Baptist: metanoeìte -- Convert! There is no access to Jesus without the Baptist; there is no possibility of reaching Jesus without answering the call of the precursor, rather: Jesus took up the message of John in the synthesis of his own preaching: metanoeìte kaì pisteúete èn tù eùaggelíu (Mark 1:15).
The Greek word for converting means: to rethink -- to question one´s own and common way of living; to allow God to enter into the criteria of one´s life; to not merely judge according to the current opinions. Thereby, to convert means: not to live as all the others live, not do what all do, not feel justified in dubious, ambiguous, evil actions just because others do the same; begin to see one´s life through the eyes of God; thereby looking for the good, even if uncomfortable; not aiming at the judgment of the majority, of men, but on the justice of God -- in other words: to look for a new style of life, a new life.
"All of this does not imply moralism; reducing Christianity to morality." 

All of this does not imply moralism; reducing Christianity to morality loses sight of the essence of Christ´s message: the gift of a new friendship, the gift of communion with Jesus and thereby with God. Whoever converts to Christ does not mean to create his own moral autarchy for himself, does not intend to build his own goodness through his own strengths.
"Conversion" (metanoia) means exactly the opposite: to come out of self-sufficiency to discover and accept our indigence -- the indigence of others and of the Other, his forgiveness, his friendship. Unconverted life is self-justification (I am not worse than the others); conversion is humility in entrusting oneself to the love of the Other, a love that becomes the measure and the criteria of my own life.
Here we must also bear in mind the social aspect of conversion. Certainly, conversion is above all a very personal act, it is personalization. I separate myself from the formula "to live as all others" (I do not feel justified anymore by the fact that everyone does what I do) and I find my own person in front of God, my own personal responsibility.
But true personalization is always also a new and more profound socialization. The "I" opens itself once again to the "you," in all its depths, and thus a new "We" is born. If the lifestyle spread throughout the world implies the danger of de-personalization, of not living one´s own life but the life of all the others, in conversion a new "We," of the common path of God, must be achieved.
In proclaiming conversion we must also offer a community of life, a common space for the new style of life. We cannot evangelize with words alone; the Gospel creates life, creates communities of progress; a merely individual conversion has no consistency....
2. The Kingdom of God
In the appeal to conversion the proclamation of the Living God is implicit -- as its fundamental condition. Theocentrism is fundamental in the message of Jesus and must also be at the heart of new evangelization.
The keyword of the proclamation of Jesus is: the Kingdom of God. But the Kingdom of God is not a thing, a social or political structure, a utopia. The Kingdom of God is God. Kingdom of God means: God exists. God is alive. God is present and acts in the world, in our -- in my life.
God is not a faraway "ultimate cause," God is not the "great architect" of deism, who created the machine of the world and is no longer part of it -- on the contrary: God is the most present and decisive reality in each and every act of my life, in each and every moment of history.
"The True Problem of Our Times:" God

In his conference when leaving the University of Münster, the theologian J.B. Metz said some unexpected things for him. In the past, Metz taught us anthropocentrism -- the true occurrence of Christianity was the anthropological turning point, the secularization, the discovery of the secularity of the world. Then he taught us political theology -- the political characteristic of faith; then the "dangerous memory"; and finally narrative theology.
After this long and difficult path, today he tells us: The true problem of our times is the "Crisis of God," the absence of God, disguised by an empty religiosity. Theology must go back to being truly theo-logy, speaking about and with God.
Metz is right: the "unum necessarium" to man is God. Everything changes, whether God exists or not. Unfortunately -- we Christians also often live as if God did not exist ("si Deus non daretur"). We live according to the slogan: God does not exist, and if he exists, he does not belong."

    If the above is the case, then the complaint of the "conservatives" against Pope Francis can only mean that they are de facto living a religion of "morality" which was highlighted by Christ in the parable of the good Samaritan who, unworthy as he was as a non-Jew, transcended the legalism of the Temple and the morality of the Jewish law, and went in aid of the Jew wounded on the side of the road. Christ taught that true religion and the summation of the entire law, is the response to the question: who is my neighbor?  

To the Scandalized "Conservatives" About the "Liberalism" of the Pope - Dr. Jeff Mirus

Dr Jeff Mirus

So now certain “conservative” Catholics are up in arms about the “liberalism” of Pope Francis. They are alarmed especially by the views he expressed in his recent interview. They have mounted their high horses and charged forward to chastise the Pope.
They are particularly incensed by the following comments:
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods…. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples of Emmaus…. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.
So there it is. Even quite a few Catholic commentators have publicly proclaimed that this sort of shilly-shallying is not to be tolerated. Pope Francis must feel the wrath of the true faithful. After all, his properly traditional predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, would never have said anything like this. Unlike Francis, they loudly claim, Pope Benedict stated the Church’s moral teachings at every turn and never permitted the kind of misunderstanding that Pope Francis stirs up so often—so often that we must conclude there is something wrong with his faith!
But perhaps these same pundits were not present on November 9, 2006 when Pope Benedict said the following to the Bishops of Switzerland (both the Vatican and posted the full text at the time):
I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and '90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.
If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith — a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.
Kind of lets all the hot air out, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Remarks on the Interview with Pope Francis
It is important to understand what is going on in the Francis’ interview of last week with the Jesuits. As Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, he is working on two epistemological levels: the level of the “I” and the level of sensible experience. His criterion of knowing is experience. On the level of sensible experience, we form sensible perceptions from which we abstract concepts. On the level of the “I,” we have a consciousness of the self when the self is “acting.”

                We do not know God on the level of sensible perceptions. We can know about God, but we do not know God. We can know God experientially when we go out of ourselves (to the peripheries, if you please) and have a consciousness of ourselves as imaging God the Son as His going out of self to the Father. So, if we experience ourselves as helping others or praying or serving others in work, we have a direct experience/consciousness of ourselves, and we have a direct experience/consciousness of ourselves as His image.
                This is the epistemological foundation for his giving more importance to the care of the homosexual person and his recovery than the evil of stamping around society denouncing the horrific nihilism of “gay marriage.” George Weigel has this right in his “The Christ-Centered Pope:” "A Catholic faith reduced to mere baggage, to a collection of rules and prohibitions, to fragmented devotional practices, to selective and partial adherence to the truths of faith, to occasional participation in some sacraments, to the repetition of doctrinal principles, to bland or nervous moralizing, that does not convert the life of the baptized would not withstand the trials of time. . . . We must all start again from Christ, recognizing [with Pope Benedict XVI] that 'being Christian is . . . the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.' ”

            Fr. Frank Pavone also has it right when he quotes the pope: "The Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living one, the one who bestows life and points the way to the fullness of life…The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions -- you must not do this, you must not do that, you must not do the other; on the contrary, they are a great "Yes!": a yes to God, to Love, to life."

Pavone comments: “That is what the Pope means in his interview by putting the abortion teaching in context. This actually protects and strengthens the Church's teaching on abortion -- and other moral issues -- because by basing these stances on the fundamental affirmations of the Faith, and in this case on the very nature of God. By doing this, the Pope is not simply saying thatabortion is wrong, but showing us why the stance of Faith can only lead to that conclusion, and no other. If a person rejects the Church's position against abortion, they are not rejecting merely an opinion or a political stance; they are rejecting the Faith itself.

The Pope, in fact, in that June 16 homily, said that failing to respect life is the same as idolatry. "All too often," he proclaimed, "as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the "Gospel of Life" but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power, and pleasure, and not by love…As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death."

From the beginning of his pontificate, I have been encouraged by the approach of Pope Francis to pro-life issues. For him, it is all about integrating the Church's teaching and practice of faith and morals, and it all centers on connecting with the human person as we connect with Christ. His desire to wash the feet of prisoners and walk among the poor is precisely the spirit that connects him and all of us with our poorest and weakest neighbors, the unborn. The Pope's emphasis on "context" and "balance" is precisely what prevents us from saying that his focus on the poor and marginalized means less focus on the unborn. This is precisely the kind of disconnected thinking the Pope opposes.

Context includes the context of human reason, which shows that abortion claims more human lives than anything else, and the context of all the teaching documents of the Church, which teach that our most fundamental right, and the condition for all the others, is life itself. It also brings us to the context of mercy, which is why, in one of my conversations with Pope Francis, he praised in particular the work of Rachel's Vineyard, of which I am the Pastoral Director. This is the largest ministry for healing and forgiveness for those who have had abortions. Saying yes to life is saying yes to mercy.
So no, I am not alarmed by the Pope's interview, or by a perceived "backing off" from the emphasis on abortion. He is doing no such thing.”

            This is the large issue that concerned Joseph Ratzinger in his career as a theologian – i.e. the experience and consciousness of the Person of Christ by the experience and consciousness of the believer who becomes another Christ in the self-transcendence  that is the act of faith.

            Conceptual knowing must be embedded in the consciousness of the self  that is the ground of “meaning.” Karol Wojtyla did the heavy lifting on this before and during Vatican II and Francis is putting into practice. He is frightening the conservative mind  that works well with concepts and clear ideas. But there was always something going on as the context and “meaning” of those ideas, but not brought to explicitness. Francis is forcing the issue because the contextual consciousness is the very consciousness of God’s presence which must become explicit.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

 60th Anniversary of Vocation to follow Christ

“I want to tell you about a personal experience. Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the day when I heard the calling from Jesus within my heart.  But I say it not to have you bring me a cake here, no it's not that. But that memory, 60 years from that day, I will never forget, the Lord made me feel strongly that I had to go forward on that path. I was 17 years old,several years had passed before making this decision, this invitation, became real, definitive. Then several years of joy and success went by. But also of failures, of sin. Sixty years on the path of our Lord, within him, beside him, always with him, and I want to say this: I do not regret it! Why not? Because I feel like Tarzan, and that I'm strong enough to keep going forward? No. I do not regret it because always, even in moments of darkness, moments of sin, in moments of weakness, in moments of failures, I have looked to Jesus and I have trusted Him, and He has never left me alone. Always trust Jesus. He always goes forward. He goes with us. But listen, He never lets us down. He is faithful, a trusting companion. Think of this as my testimony, I am happy of these 60 years with the Lord. ”

George Weigel Wrestles Well With the Christ-Centered Papacy

Blogger’s Preface:

Such a fine article by Weigel could be the occasion for him to rewrite his previous criticisms of John Paul II’s “Of Social Concern” [Witness to Hope pp. 559-560] and Benedict’s “Charitas in Veritate” [National Review, July 7, 2009]. They maintained the very point that Weigel is extolling in Francis: the centeredness of Christ in all affairs human including economics.

Perhaps the most revealing detail in Pope Francis’s lengthy interview, conducted by the Italian Jesuit Antonio Spadaro and published yesterday in English translation in the Jesuit journal America, is the pontiff’s reflection on one of his favorite Roman walks, prior to his election:

When I had to come to to Rome, I always stayed in [the neighborhood of the] Via della Scrofa. From there I often visited the Church of St. Louis of France, and I went there to contemplate the painting of “The Calling of St. Matthew” by Caravaggio. That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew. . . . This is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.

The Calling of St. Matthew is an extraordinary painting in many ways, including Caravaggio’s signature use of light and darkness to heighten the spiritual tension of a scene. In this case, though, the chiaroscuro setting is further intensified by a profoundly theological artistic device: The finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew, seems deliberately to invoke the finger of God as rendered by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Thus Caravaggio, in depicting the summons of the tax collector, unites creation and redemption, God the Father and the incarnate Son, personal call and apostolic mission.

That is who Jorge Mario Bergoglio is: a radically converted Christian disciple who has felt the mercy of God in his own life and who describes himself, without intending any dramatic effect, as “a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” Having heard the call to conversion and responded to it, Bergoglio wants to facilitate others’ hearing of that call, which never ceases to come from God through Christ and the Church.

And that, Bergoglio insists, is what the Church is for: The Church is for evangelization and conversion. Those who have found the new pope’s criticism of a “self-referential Church” puzzling, and those who will find something shockingly new in his critical comments, in his recent interview, about a Church reduced “to a nest protecting our mediocrity,” haven’t been paying sufficient attention. Six years ago, when the Catholic bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean met at the Brazilian shrine of Aparecida to consider the future, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio, was one of the principal intellectual architects of the bishops’ call to put evangelization at the center of Catholic life, and to put Jesus Christ at the center of evangelization. The Latin American Church, long used to being “kept,” once by legal establishment and then by cultural tradition, had to rediscover missionary zeal by rediscovering the Lord Jesus Christ. And so the Latin American bishops, led by Bergoglio, made in their final report a dramatic proposal that amounted to a stinging challenge to decades, if not centuries, of ecclesiastical complacency:

The Church is called to a deep and profound rethinking of its mission. . . . It cannot retreat in response to those who see only confusion, dangers, and threats. . . . What is required is confirming, renewing, and revitalizing the newness of the Gospel . . . out of a personal and community encounter with Jesus Christ that raises up disciples and missionaries. . . . 

A Catholic faith reduced to mere baggage, to a collection of rules and prohibitions, to fragmented devotional practices, to selective and partial adherence to the truths of faith, to occasional participation in some sacraments, to the repetition of doctrinal principles, to bland or nervous moralizing, that does not convert the life of the baptized would not withstand the trials of time. . . . We must all start again from Christ, recognizing [with Pope Benedict XVI] that “being Christian is . . . the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

The 21st-century proclamation of Christ must take place in a deeply wounded and not infrequently hostile world. In another revealing personal note, Francis spoke of his fondness for Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion, one of the most striking religious paintings of the 20th century. Chagall’s Jesus is unmistakably Jewish, the traditional blue and white tallis or prayer-shawl replacing the loincloth on the Crucified One. But Chagall’s Christ is also a very contemporary figure, for around the Cross swirl the death-dealing political madnesses and hatreds of the 20th century. And so the pope’s regard for Chagall’s work is of a piece with his description of the Catholic Church of the 21st century as a kind of field hospital on a battlefield strewn with the human wreckage caused by false ideas of the human person and false claims of what makes for happiness. Thus Francis in his interview on the nature of the Church:

I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.

And how are the wounds of late-modern and postmodern humanity to be healed? Through an encounter with Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. “The most important thing, “ Francis insisted in his interview, “is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.” The Church of the 21st century must offer Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life (as John Paul II liked to put it). The moral law is important, and there should be no doubt that Francis believes and professes all that the Catholic Church believes and professes to be true about the moral life, the life that leads to happiness and beatitude. But he also understands that men and women are far more likely to embrace those moral truths — about the inalienable right to life from conception until natural death; about human sexuality and how it should be lived — when they have first embraced Jesus Christ as Lord. That, it seems to me, is what the pope was saying when he told Antonio Spadaro that “proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things.” These are what make “the heart burn: as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. . . . The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”

Francis underscores that “the teaching of the Church is clear” on issues like abortion, euthanasia, the nature of marriage, and chastity and that he is “a son of the Church” who accepts those teachings as true. But he also knows that “when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.” That “context” is Jesus Christ and his revelation of the truth about the human person. For as the Second Vatican Council taught in Gaudium et Spes, its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, “It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly comes clear. For Adam, the first man, was the type of him who was to come. Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling.” 

Thus Pope Francis, the pastor who is urging a new pastoral style on his fellow bishops and fellow priests, insists that every time the Church says “no,” it does so on the basis of a higher and more compelling “yes”: yes to the dignity and value of every human life, which the Church affirms because it has embraced Jesus as Lord and proclaims him to a world increasingly tempted to measure human beings by their utility rather than their dignity.
Francis’s radical Christocentricity — his insistence that everything in the Church begins with Jesus Christ and must lead men and women to Jesus Christ — also sheds light on his statement that there is a hierarchy of truths in Catholicism or, as he put it, that “the dogmatic and moral teachings of the Church are not all equivalent.” That does not mean, of course, that some of those those teachings are not really, well, true; but it does mean that some truths help us make sense of other truths. The Second Vatican Council reclaimed this notion of a “hierarchy of truths” in Unitatis Redintegratio, its Decree on Ecumenism, and it’s an important idea, the pope understands, for the Church’s evangelical mission.

If you don’t believe in Jesus Christ as Lord — if you’ve never heard the Gospel — then you aren’t going to be very interested in what the Catholic Church has to say in Jesus’s name about what makes for human happiness and what makes for decadence and unhappiness; indeed, you’re quite likely to be hostile to what the Church says about how we ought to live. By redirecting the Church’s attention and pastoral action to the Church’s most basic responsibility — the proclamation of the Gospel and the invitation to friendship with Jesus Christ — Pope Francis is underscoring that a very badly disoriented 21st century will be more likely to pay attention to evangelists than to scolds: “We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. . . . The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.” The Church says “yes” before the Church says “no,” and there isn’t any “no” the Church pronounces that isn’t ultimately a reflection of the Church’s “yes” to Jesus Christ, to the Gospel, and to what Christ and the Gospel affirm about human dignity.

It’s going to take some time for both the Church and the world to grow accustomed to an evangelical papacy with distinctive priorities. Those who imagine the Catholic Church as an essentially political agency in which “policy” can change the way it changes when a new governor moves into an American statehouse will continue — as they did within minutes of the release of the America interview — to misrepresent Pope Francis as an advocate of doctrinal and moral change, of the sort that would be approved by the editorial board of the New York Times. This is nonsense. Perhaps more urgently, it is a distraction.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is determined to redirect the Church’s attention, and the world’s attention, to Jesus Christ. In this, his papacy will be in continuity with those of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope Francis is going to be radically Christ-centered in his own way, though, and some may find that way jarring. Those willing to take him in full, however, rather than excising 17 words from a 12,000-word interview, will find the context in which those 17 words make classic Catholic sense. “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods,” the pope told his interviewer. Why? Because it is by insisting on conversion to Jesus Christ, on lifelong deepening of the believer’s friendship with him, and on the Church’s ministry as an instrument of the divine mercy that the Church will help others make sense of its teaching on those matters — with which the New York Times, not the Catholic Church, is obsessed — and will begin to transform a deeply wounded culture. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Statement From Archbishop for US Military Services on Same-Sex Relationships

"A clear disservice is rendered if the truth of the Gospel is confused by the actions of those ordained to disseminate that truth"
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 23, 2013 ( - Here is a statement from Archbishop Timothy Broglio, archbishop for the Military Services, sent to all priests and deacons in the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS), entitled “Renewed Fidelity in favor of Evangelization.”

Signed on September 17, the memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, the document provides guidance for Catholic chaplains and contract priests and deacons who may encounter ministry situations involving Catholic or non-Catholic parties in same gender “marital” relationships.
Here follows the text of the statement from Archbishop Broglio: 

* * *

Renewed Fidelity in favor of Evangelization

    As members of the Church founded by Jesus Christ to meet the needs of the baptized and to proclaim that good news about the salvation given by Him, we are also aware of His clear teaching about the danger of scandal (Mt. 18:6).  This world is a pilgrimage to life without end. At the conclusion of our walk through life we must stand before the Throne of Grace to give an accounting of our fidelity.

St. Paul reminds priests to be all things to all people (1Cor. 9:22).  A clear disservice is rendered if the truth of the Gospel is confused by the actions of those ordained to disseminate that truth.  The current situation makes it necessary to reiterate with clarity the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding homosexuality.  However, it must never be forgotten that the human condition occasions many failings.  St. Paul continually reminds us of that fact in his letters to the communities of believers.

    Priests ordained to minister Word and Sacrament and endorsed to serve Catholics in the Armed Forces, the Veterans Administration Medical Centers, and those who serve the US Federal Government outside the borders of the United States of America know that theirs is a twenty-four-seven vocation.  By speech, action, and example they witness to the truth revealed by the Lord in all that they do (see Eph. 4:14).

    Recent changes in interpretations of the laws of the Federal Government oblige me to recall what is clearly held by the Catholic Church.  At the same time I am grateful to the Congress of the United States for its passage of renewed conscience-protection language, specifically for chaplains in the Armed Forces.  


    No Catholic priest or deacon may be forced by any authority to witness or bless the union of couples of the same gender.    No Catholic priest or deacon can be obliged to assist at a “Strong Bonds” or other “Marriage Retreat”, if that gathering is also open to couples of the same gender.  A priest who is asked to counsel non-Catholic parties in a same-gendered relationship will direct them to a chaplain who is able to assist.  Catholic parties will, of course, be encouraged by the priest to strive to live by the teaching of the Gospel.

    Participation in retirements, changes of command, and promotion ceremonies is possible, as long as the priest is not required to acknowledge or approve of a “spouse” of the same gender.

    While the tradition of the Catholic Church always tries to find reasons to bury the dead, a priest may not be placed in a situation where his assistance at a funeral for a Catholic would give the impression that the Church approves of same sex “marital” relationships (see CIC, c. 1184, §1,3º). In the case of doubt, the Archbishop for the Military Services, USA must be consulted (see CIC, c. 1184, §2). 

Lay Ministries

    Obviously, anyone who is known to be in a sinful relationship is excluded from ministries in the Catholic community.  While this list is not intended to cover every situation, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, catechists, and members of the Catholic Council immediately come to mind.


    We are also mindful of the Lord’s words, “Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone…” (Jn. 8:7b).  The Church must minister to all regardless of their sexual inclination.  While the invitation to conversion cannot be diluted, the door to the mercy of Christ, obtained through His Cross, must be kept open.  Priests and deacons will be guided by the principles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (cf. nos. 2358-2359) and never forget that it is the sin that is hated and never the sinner.

    In the quest for continued fidelity to the truth of the Gospel, it must not be forgotten that estimates indicate that same-gender couples represent less than half of one percent of those in the Armed Forces.  While every individual is important, such a small group cannot be allowed to mandate policy for all.
Guidance for Catholics in Command Positions

I am not unaware that the faithful entrusted to my pastoral care also include those Catholics who exercise command positions.  They can be faced with additional questions as they fulfill their responsibilities to those above and below them in the chain of command. Consequently in response to a doubt raised by the AMS regarding the question of a person’s possible cooperation with evil, the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) stated:
 “Commanders of United States military installations/veterans’ facilities (hereafter, ‘commanders’) would not be engaging in morally illicit cooperation, but rather tolerable remote mediate material cooperation with evil by implementing federal employee benefits accruing pursuant to same-sex marriage, as required by United States v. Windsor.  Our determination is contingent on the situations in which commanders are unable to avoid such cooperation without jeopardizing their own just right to their employment security for themselves and/or their families.  This is also contingent on the commander making known his/her objection to being required to so participate, as well as on attempting through legal channels to continue to accomplish changes in policy consistent with the historic understanding of marriage and family as based on natural moral law.  Also, if without incurring a demotion of loss or downgrade of position/rank/grade or other serious harm, there is a mechanism to have others more senior in the chain of command to carry out the implementation of such policy, this should be pursued.”

Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio

Archbishop for the Military Services
Washington, DC, 17 September 2013, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine

Bringing Christ to the Digital Continent

Blogger: I see the danger and run - treating cyber space as a distraction from the personal. The Pope says: don't run! This will take prayer,wisdom and work.

Pope Francis Addresses Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, September 23, 2013 ( - On Saturday, Pope Francis met with participants of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who gathered for three days to reflect on the theme: “The Internet and the Church”.
The Holy Father focused on three points during his address: the importance of communication for the Church, the internet and the encounter with Christ.
Recalling the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Conciliar Decree Inter Mirifica, the Pope told participants that the document “expresses the Church’s solicitude for communication in all its forms, which are important in the work of evangelization.”
“In the last few decades, the various means of communication have evolved significantly, but the Church’s concern remains the same, taking on new forms and expressions,” the Pope said.  
“The world of social communications, more and more, has become a “living environment” for many, a web where people communicate with each other, expanding the boundaries of their knowledge and relationships.”
The Role of the Church in Communications
Pope Francis told those gathered that the goal in communications is ultimately to dialogue with today’s men and women, who sometimes feel let down by “a Christianity that to them appears sterile.”
In today’s globalized age, the Holy Father stressed, there is a “growing sense” of isolation, an inability to connect with others that impede people from building meaningful relationships.
The 76 year old Pontiff told the Plenary Assembly that it is crucial to know how to dialogue with others, in the environments created by technology and social networks, “in such a way as to reveal a presence that listens, converses, and encourages.”
“Do not be afraid to be this presence, expressing your Christian identity as you become citizens of this environment. A Church that follows this path learns how to walk with everybody!,” the Pope exclaimed.
Christianity in the Digital Age
The challenge in proclaiming the Good News in the digital age, is not a technical one, the Pope said.
“We must ask ourselves – and here I come to the third step – are we up to the task of bringing Christ into this area and of bringing others to meet Christ? Are we able to communicate the face of a Church which is 'home' to all?,” the Holy Father asked.
Through both social communications and personal contact, the Church is called to “warm the hearts of men and women” who he said was “made up of real men and women who bring with them their hopes, their suffering, and their pursuit of what is true, beautiful and good.”
The Holy Father stressed the need to follow the example of the Blessed Mother, who he said “brought Christ to the hearts of men and women.
“We need to descend into the darkest night without being overcome and disorientated; we need to listen to the dreams, without being seduced; to share their disappointments, without becoming despondent; to sympathize with those whose lives are falling apart, without losing our own strength and identity,” the Holy Father emphasized.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis warned of the temptation within the Church of a “spiritual harassment that leads to a nominal encounter with Christ and not with the Living Person of Christ.”
“In a person’s encounter with Christ, both Christ and the person need to be involved! Not what’s wanted by the ‘spiritual engineer’, who wants to manipulate people. This is the challenge,” the Pope said.
“To bring about the encounter with Christ in the full knowledge, though, that we ourselves are means of communication, and that the fundamental problem is not the acquisition of the latest technologies, although these are necessary to a valid, contemporary presence.”

Sunday, September 22, 2013

For Discernment About Pope Francis' Recent Remarks on Global Economy and Work - True Liberation Theology: The Social Doctrine of the Church (1986)


The Christian practice of liberation 

71. The salvific dimension of liberation cannot be reduced to the socio-ethical dimension, which is a consequence of it. By restoring man's true freedom, the radical liberation brought about by Christ assigns to him a task: Christian practice, which is the putting into practice of the great commandment of love. The latter is the supreme principle of Christian social morality, founded upon the Gospel and the whole of tradition since apostolic times and the age of the Fathers of the Church up to and including the recent statements of the Magisterium. The considerable challenges of our time constitute an urgent appeal to put into practice this teaching on how to act. 

I. Nature of the social doctrine of the Church 

The Gospel message and social life 
72. The Church's social teaching is born of the encounter of the Gospel message and of its demands summarized in the supreme commandment of love of God and neighbour in justice (106) with the problems emanating from the life of society. This social teaching has established itself as a doctrine by using the resources of human wisdom and the sciences. It concerns the ethical aspect of this life. It takes into account the technical aspects of problems but always in order to judge them from the moral point of view. 
Being essentially orientated toward action, this teaching develops in accordance with the changing circumstances of history. This is why, together with principles that are always valid, it also involves contingent judgments. Far from constituting a closed system, it remains constantly open to the new questions which continually arise; it requires the contribution of all charisma, experiences and skills. As an "expert in humanity", the Church offers by her social doctrine a set of principles for reflectionand criteria for judgment (107) and also directives f or action (108) so that the profound changes demanded by situations of poverty and injustice may be brought about, and this in a way which serves the true good of humanity. 

Fundamental principles
73. The supreme commandment of love leads to the full recognition of the dignity of each individual, created in God's image. From this dignity flow natural rights and duties. In the light of the image of God, freedom, which is the essential prerogative of the human person, is manifested in all its depth. Persons are the active and responsible subjects of social life.(109) Intimately linked to thefoundation, which is man's dignity, are the principle of solidarity and the principle of subsidiarity. By virtue of the first, man with his brothers is obliged to contribute to the common good of society at all its levels.(110) Hence the Church's doctrine is opposed to all the forms of social or political individualism. By virtue of the second, neither the State nor any society must ever substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and of intermediate communities at the level on which they can function, nor must they take away the room necessary for their freedom.(111) Hence the Church's social doctrine is opposed to all forms of collectivism. 

Criteria for judgment 
74. These principles are the basis of criteria for making judgments on social situationsstructuresand systems. Thus the Church does not hesitate to condemn situations of life which are injurious to man's dignity and freedom. These criteria also make it possible to judge the value of structures. These are the sets of institutions and practices which people find already existing or which they create, on the national and international level, and which orientate or organize economic, social and political life. Being necessary in themselves, they often tend to become fixed and fossilized as mechanisms relatively independent of the human will, thereby paralysing or distorting social development and causing injustice. However, they always depend on the responsibility of man, who can alter them, and not upon an alleged determinism of history. Institutions and laws, when they are in conformity with the natural law and ordered to the common good, are the guarantees of people's freedom and of the promotion of that freedom. One cannot condemn all the constraining aspects of law, nor the stability of a lawful State worthy of the name. One can therefore speak of structures marked by sin, but one cannot condemn structures as such. The criteria for judgment also concern economic, social and political systems. The social doctrine of the Church does not propose any particular system; but, in the light of other fundamental principles, she makes it possible at once to see to what extent existing systems conform or do not conform to the demands of human dignity. 

Primacy of persons over structures 
75. The Church is of course aware of the complexity of the problems confronting society and of the difficulties in finding adequate solutions to them. Nevertheless she considers that the first thing to be done is to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the individual and to the permanent need for inner conversion, if one is to achieve the economic and social changes that will truly be at the service of man. The priority given to structures and technical organization over the person and the requirements of his dignity is the expression of a materialistic anthropology and is contrary to the construction of a just social order.(112) On the other hand, the recognized priority of freedom and of conversion of heart in no way eliminates the need for unjust structures to be changed. It is therefore perfectly legitimate that those who super oppression on the part of the wealthy or the politically powerful should take action, through morally licit means, in order to secure structures and institutions in which their rights will be truly respected. It remains true however that structures established for people's good are of themselves incapable of securing and guaranteeing that good. The corruption which in certain countries affects the leaders and the State bureaucracy, and which destroys all honest social life, is a proof of this. Moral integrity is a necessary condition for the health of society. It is therefore necessary to work simultaneously for the conversion of hearts and for the improvement of structures. For the sin which is at the root of unjust situations is, in a true and imgnediate sense, a voluntary act which has its source in the freedom of individuals. Only in a derived and secondary sense is it applicable to structures, and only in this sense can one speak of "social sin",(113) Moreover, in the process of liberation, one cannot abstract from the historical situation of the nation or attack the cultural identity of the people. Consequently, one cannot passively accept, still less actively support, groups which by force or by the manipulation of public opinion take over the State apparatus and unjustly impose on the collectivity an imported ideology contrary to the culture of the people.(114) In this respect, mention should be made of the serious moral and political responsibility of intellectuals. 

Guidelines for action 
76. Basic principles and criteria for judgment inspire guidelines for action. Since the common good of human society is at the service of people, the means of action must be in conformity with human dignity and facilitate education for freedom. A safe criterion for judgment and action is this: there can be no true liberation if from the very beginning the rights of freedom are not respected. Systematic recourse to violence put forward as the necessary path to liberation has to be condemned as a destructive illusion and one that opens the way to new forms of servitude. One must condemn with eciual vigour violence exercised by the powerful against the poor, arbitrary action by the police, and any form of violence established as a system of government. In these areas one must learn the lessons of tragic experiences which the history of the present century has known and continues to know. Nor can one accept the culpable passivity of the public powers in those democracies where the social situation of a large number of men and women is far from corresponding to the demands of constitutionally guaranteed individual and social rights. 

A struggle for justice 
77 . When the Church encourages the creation and activity of associations such as trade unions which fight for the defence of the rights and legitimate interests of the workers and for social justice, she does not thereby admit the theory that sees in the class struggle the structural dynamism of social life. The action which she sanctions is not the struggle of one class against another in order to eliminate the foe. She does not proceed from a mistaken acceptance of an alleged law of history. This action is rather a noble and reasoned struggle for justice and social solidarity.(115) The Christian will always prefer the path of dialogue and joint action. Christ has commanded us to love our enemies.(116) Liberation in the spirit of the Gospel is therefore incompatible with hatred of others, taken individually or collectively, and this includes hatred of one's enemy. 

The myth of revolution 
78. Situations of grave injustice require the courage to make far-reaching reforms and to suppress unjustifiable privileges. But those who discredit the path of reform and favour the myth of revolution not only foster the illusion that the abolition of an evil situation is in itself sufficient to create a more humane society; they also encourage the setting up of totalitarian regimes.(117) The fight against injustice is meaningless unless it is waged with a view to establishing a new social and political order in conformity with the demands of justice. Justice must already mark each stage of the establishment of this new order. There is a morality of means.(118) 

A last resort 
79. These principles must be especially applied in the extreme case where there is recourse to armed struggle, which the Church's Magisterium admits as a last resort to put an end to an obvious and prolonged tyranny which is gravely damaging the fundamental rights of individuals and the common good.(119) Nevertheless, the concrete application of this means can not be contemplated until there has been a very rigorous analysis of the situation. Indeed, because of the continual development of the technology of violence and the increasingly serious dangers implied in its recourse, that which today is termed "passive resistance" shows a way more conformable to moral principles and having no less prospects for success. One can never approve, whether perpetrated by established power or insurgents, crimes such as reprisals against the general population, torture, or methods of terrorism and deliberate provocation aimed at causing deaths during popular demonstrations. Equally unacceptable are detestable smear campaigns capable of destroying a person psychologically or morally. 

The role of the laity 
80. It is not for the pastors of the Church to intervene directly in the political con struction and organization of social life. This task forms part of the vocation of the laity acting on their own initiative with their fellow-citizens.(120) They must fulfil this task conscious of the fact that the purpose of the Church is to spread the Kingdom of Christ so that all men may be saved and that through them the world may be effectively ordered to Christ.(121) The work of salvation is thus seen to be indissolubly linked to the task of improving and raising the conditions of human life in this world. The distinction between the supernatural order of salvation and the temporal order of human life must be seer in the context of God's singular plan to recapitulate all things in Christ. Hence in each of these spheres the layperson, who is at one and the same time a member of the Church and a citizen of his country, must allow himself to be constantly guided by his Christian conscience.(122) Social action, which can involve a number of concrete means, will always be exercised for the common good and in conformity with the Gospel message and the teaching of the Church. It must be ensured that the variety of options does not harm a sense of collaboration, or lead to a paralysis of efforts or produce confusion among the Christian people. The orientation received from the social doctrine of the Church should stimulate an acquisition of the essential technical and scientific skills. The social doctrine of the Church will also stimulate the seeking of moral formation of character and a deepening of the spiritual life. While it offers principles and wise counsels, this doctrine does not dispense from education in the political prudence needed for guiding and running human affairs. 
II. Evangelical requirements for an indepth transformation 

Need for a cultural transformation 
81. Christians working to bring about that "civilization of love" which will include the entire ethical and social heritage of the Gospel are today faced with an unprecedented challenge. This task calls for renewed reflection on what constitutes the relationship between the supreme commandment of love and the social order considered in all its complexity. The immediate aim of this indepth reflection is to work out and set in motion ambitious programmes aimed at the socio-economic liberation of millions of men and women caught in an intolerable situation of economic, social and political oppression. This action must begin with an immense effort at education: education for the civilization of work, education for solidarity, access to culture for all. 

The Gospel of work 
82. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, a real "Gospel of work", offers us the living example and principle of the radical cultural transformation which is essential for solving the grave problems which must be faced by the age in which we live. He, who, though he was God, became like us in all things, devoted the greater part of his earthly life to manual labour.(123) The culture which our age awaits will be marked by the full recognition of the dignity of human work, which appears in all its nobility and fruitfulness in the light of the mysteries of Creation and Redemption.(124) Recognized as a form of the person, work becomes a source of creative meaning and effort. 

A true civilization of work 
83. Thus the solution of most of the serious problems related to poverty is to be found in the promotion of a true civilization of work. In a sense, work is the key to the whole social question.(125) It is therefore in the domain of work that priority must be given to the action of liberation in freedom. Because the relationship between the human person and work is radical and vital, the forms and models according to which this relationship is regulated will exercise a positive influence for the solution of a whole series of social and political problems facing each people. Just work relationships will be a necessary precondition for a system of political community capable of favouring the integral development of every individual. If the system of labour relations put into effect by those directly involved, the workers and employers, with the essential support of the public powers succeeds in bringing into existence a civilization of work, then there will take place a profound and peaceful revolution in people's outlooks and in institutional and political structures.

National and international common good
84. A work culture such as this will necessarily presuppose and put into effect a certain number of essential values. It will acknowledge that the person of the worker is the principle, subject and purpose of work. It will affirm the priority of work over capital and the fact that material goods are meant for all. It will be animated by a sense of solidarity involving not only rights to be defended but also the duties to be performed. It will involve participation, aimed at promoting the national and international common good and not just defending individual or corporate interests. It will assimilate the methods of confrontation and of frank and vigorous dialogue. 
As a result, the political authorities will become more capable of acting with respect for the legitimate freedoms of individuals, families and subsidiary groups; and they will thus create the conditions necessary for man to be able to achieve his authentic and integral welfare, including his spiritual goal.(126)

The value of human work 
85. A culture which recognizes the eminent dignity of the worker will emphasize the subjective dimension of work.(127) The value of any human work does not depend on the kind of work done; it is based on the fact that the one who does it is a person,(128) There we have an ethical criterion whose implications cannot be overlooked. Thus every person has a right to work, and this right must be recognized in a practical way by an effective commitment to resolving the tragic problem of unemployment. The fact that unemployment keeps large sectors of the population and notably the young in a situation of marginalization is intolerable. For this reason the creation of jobs is a primary social task facing individuals and private enterprise, as well as the State. As a general rule, in this as in other matters, the State has a subsidiary function; but often it can be called upon to intervene directly, as in the case of international agreements between different States. Such agreements must respect the rights of immigrants and their families.(129) 

Promoting participation 
86. Wages, which cannot be considered as a mere commodity, must enable the worker and his family to have access to a truly human standard of living in the material, social, cultural and spiritual orders. It is the dignity of the person which constitutes the criterion for judging work, not the other way round. Whatever the type of work, the worker must be able to perform it as an expression of his personality. There follows from this the necessity of a participation which, over and above a sharing in the fruits of work, should involve a truly communitarian dimension at the level of projects, undertakings and responsibilities.(130) 

Priority of work over capital 
87. The priority of work over capital places an obligation in justice upon employers to con sider the welf are of the workers before the increase of profits. They have a moral obligation not to keep capital unproductive and in making investments to think first of the common good. The latter requires a prior effort to consolidate jobs or create new ones in the production of goods that are really useful. The right to private property is inconceivable without responsibilities to the common good. It is subordinated to the higher principle which states that goods are meant for all.(131) 

Indepth reforms 
88. This teaching must inspire reforms before it is too late. Access for everyone to the goods needed for a human, personal and family life worthy of the name is a primary demand of social justice. It requires application in the sphere of industrial work and in a particular way in the area of agricultural work.(132) Indeed, rural peoples, especially in the third world, make up the vast majority of the poor.(133) 

III. Promotion of solidarity 

A new solidarity 
89. Solidarity is a direct requirement of human and supernatural brotherhood. The serious socio-economic problems which occur today cannot be solved unless new fronts of solidarity are created: solidarity of the poor among themselves, solidarity with the poor to which the rich are called, solidarity among the workers and with the workers. Institutions and social organizations at different levels, as well as the State, must share in a general movement of solidarity. When the Church appeals for such solidarity, she is aware that she herself is concerned in a quite special way. 

Goods are meant for all 
90. The principle that goods are meant for all, together with the principle of human and supernatural brotherhood, express the re sponsibilities of the richer countries toward the poorer ones. These responsibilities include solidarity in aiding the developing countries, social justice through a revision in correct terms of commercial relationships between North and South, the promotion of a more human world for all, a world in which each individual can give and receive, and in which the progress of some will no longer be an obstacle to the development of others, nor a pretext for their enslavement.(134)

Aid for development 
91. International solidarity is a necessity of the moral order. It is essential not only in cases of extreme urgency but also for aiding true development. This is a shared task, which requires a concerted and constant effort to find concrete technical solutions and also to create a new mentality among our contemporaries. World peace depends on this to a great extent.(135) 
IV. Cultural and educational tasks 

Right to education and culture 
92. The unjust inequalities in the possession and use of material goods are accompanied and aggravated by similarly unjust inequalities in the opportunity for culture. Every human being has a right to culture, which is the specific mode of a truly human existence to which one gains access through the development of one's intellectual capacities, moral virtues, abilities to relate with other human beings, and talents for creating things which are useful and beautiful. From this flows the necessity of promoting and spreading education, to which every individual has an inalienable right. The first condition for this is the elimination of illiteracy.(136) 

Respect for cultural freedom 
93. The right of each person to culture is only assured if cultural freedom is respected. Too often culture is debased by ideology, and education is turned into an instrument at the service of political or economic power. It is not within the competence of the public authorities to determine culture. Their function is to promote and protect the cultural life of everyone, including that of minorities.(137) 

The educational task of the family 
94. The task of educating belongs fundamentally and primarily to the family. The function of the State is subsidiary: its role is to guarantee, protect, promote and supplement. Whenever the State lays claim to an educational monopoly, it oversteps its rights and offends justice. It is parents who have the right to choose the school to which they send their children and the right to set up end support educational centres in accordance with their own beliefs. The State cannot without injustice merely tolerate so-called private schools. Such schools render a public service and therefore have a right to financial assistance.(138) 

Freedoms and sharing 
95 . The education which gives access to culture is also education in the responsible exercise of freedom. That is why there can only be authentic development in a social and political system which respects freedoms and fosters them through the participation of everyone. This participation can take different forms; it is necessary in order to guarantee a proper pluralism in institutions and in social initiatives. It ensures, notably by the real separation between the powers of the State, the exercise of human rights, also protecting them against possible abuses on the part of the public powers. No one can be excluded from this participation in social and political lif a for reasons of sex, race, colour, social condition, language or religion.(139) Keeping people on the margins of cultural, social and political life constitutes in many nations one of the most glaring injustices of our time. When the political authorities regulate the exercise of freedoms, they cannot use the pretext of the demands of public order and security in order to curtail those freedoms systematically. Nor can the alleged principle of national security, or a narrowly economic outlook, or a totalitarian concept of social life, prevail over the value of freedom and its rights.(140) 

The challenge of inculturation 
96. Faith inspires criteria of judgment, determining values, lines of thought and patterns of living which are valid for the whole human community.(141) Hence the Church, sensitive to the anxieties of our age, indicates the lines of a culture in which work would be recognized in its full human dimension and in which all would find opportunities for personal self-fulfilment. The Church does this by virtue of her missionary outreach for the integral salvation of the world, with respect for the identity of each people and nation. The Church, which is a communion which unites diversity and unity through its presence in the whole world, takes from every culture the positive elements which she finds there. But inculturation is not simply an outward adaptation; it is an intimate transformation of authentic cultural values by their integration into Christianity and the planting of Christianity in the different human cultures.(142) Separation between the Gospel and culture is a tragedy of which the problems mentioned are a sad illustration. A generous effort to evangelize cultures is theref ore necessary. These cultures will be given fresh life by their encounter with the Gospel. But this encounter presupposes that the Gospel is truly proclaimed.(143) Enlightened by the Second Vatican Council, the Church wishes to devote all her energies to this task, so as to evoke an immense liberating effort.

The canticle of the Magnificat 

97. Blessed is she who believed {Lk 1:45). At Elizabeth's greeting, the heart of the Mother of God would burst into the song of the Magnificat. It tells us that it is by faith and in faith like that of Mary that the People of God express in words and translate into life the mysterious plan of salvation with its liberating effects upon individual and social existence. It is really in the light of faith that one comes to understand how salvation history is the history of liberation from evil in its mcst radical form and of the introduction of humanity into the true freedom of the children of God. Mary is totally dependent on her Son and completely directed towards him by the impulse of her faith; and, at his side, she is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission. It is altogether remarkable that the sense of faith found in the poor leads not only to an acute perception of the mystery of the redeeming Cross but also to a love and unshakable trust in the Mother of the Son of God, who is venerated in so many shrines. 

The "sensus fidei" of the People of God 
98. Pastors and all those who, as priests, laity, or men and women religious, often work under very difficult conditions for evangelization and integral human advancement, should be filled with hope when they think of the amazing resources of holiness contained in the living faith of the people of God. These riches of the sensus fidei must be given the chance to come to full flowering and bear abundant fruit. To help the faith of the poor to express itself clearly and to be translated into life, through a profound meditation on the plan of salvation as it unfolds itself in the Virgin of the Magnificat - this is a noble ecclesial task which awaits the theologian. Thus a theology of freedom and liberation which faithfully echoes Mary's Magnificat preserved in the Church's memory is something needed by the times in which we are living. But it would be criminal to take the energies of popular piety and misdirect them toward a purely earthly plan of liberation, which would very soon be revealed as nothing more than an illusion and a cause of new forms of slavery. Those who in this way surrender to the ideologies of the world and to the alleged necessity of violence are no longer being faithful to hope, to hope's boldness and courage, as they are extolled in the hymn to the God of mercy which the Virgin teaches us. 

Dimensions of an authentic liberation
99. The sensus fidei grasps the very core of the liberation accomplished by the Redeemer. It is from the most radical evil, from sin and the power of death, that he has delivered us in order to restore freedom to itself and to show it the right path. This path is marked out by the supreme commandment, which is the commandment of love. Liberation, in its primary meaning which is salvific, thus extends into a liberating task, as an ethical requirement. Here is to be found the social doctrine of the Church, which illustrates Christian practice on the level of society. The Christian is called to act according to the truth,(144) and thus to work for the establishment of that "civilization of love" of which Pope Paul VI spoke,(145) The present document, without claiming to be complete, has indicated some of the directions in which it is urgently necessary to undertake indepth reforms. The primary task, which is a condition for the success of all the others, is an educational one. The love which guides commitment must henceforth bring into being new forms of solidarity. To the accomplishment of these tasks urgently facing the Christian conscience, all people of good will are called. It is the truth of the mystery of salvation at work today in order to lead redeemed humanity towards the perfection of the Kingdom which gives true meaning to the necessary efforts for liberation in the economic, social and political orders and which keeps them from falling into new forms of slavery. 

The task that lies ahead 
100. It is true that before the immensity and the complexity of the task, which can re quire the gif t of self even to an heroic degree, many are tempted to discouragement, scepticism or the recklessness of despair. A formidable challenge is made to hope, both theological and human. The loving Virgin of the Magnificat, who enfolds the Church and humanity in her prayer, is the firm support of hope. For in her we contemplate the victory of divine love which no obstacle can hold back, and we discover to what sublime freedom God raises up the lowly. Along the path which she shows us, the faith which works through love must go forward with great resolve.(146)
During an audience granted to the undersigned Prefect, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, approved this Instruction, adopted in an ordinary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and ordered it to be published. 

Given at Rome, from the Congregation, March 22, 1986, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord.