Friday, January 29, 2016

Pope Francis: Mercy Always Comes First!

"Mercy is the foundation of the life of the Church: the first truth of the Church, indeed, is Christ's love", were the opening words of the Holy Father's discourse to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whom he received in audience this morning in the Clementine Hall. The Pope went on to urge all the Christian people, both pastors and the faithful, to rediscover during this Jubilee the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as when, in the twilight of life, we are asked if we have given food to the hungry and given the thirsty water to drink, we will also be asked "if we have helped people to set their doubts aside, if we have committed ourselves to welcoming sinners, admonishing them and correcting them, if we have been able to combat ignorance, especially in relation to the Christian faith and the righteous life".

"In faith and in charity a cognitive and unifying relationship is established with the mystery of Love, which is God Himself. The effective mercy of God became, in Jesus, affective mercy, as He made Himself man for the salvation of mankind. The task entrusted to your Dicastery here finds its ultimate foundation and and adequate justification. Christian faith, indeed, is not only knowledge to be committed to memory, but also truth to live in love. Therefore, along with the doctrine of the faith, it is also necessary to safeguard the integrity of customs, particularly in the most delicate areas of life. Adhering to faith in the person of Christ implies both an act of reason and a moral response to His gift. In this respect, I thank you for all your commitment and the responsibility you exercise in treating cases of abuse of minors by members of the clergy".

"Safeguarding the integrity of faith and customs is a delicate task. Performing this mission well requires collegial commitment. … The correct synodality must be promoted at all levels of ecclesial life", added the Pope, citing in this respect the meeting organised by the Congregation with the Doctrinal Commissions of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe, enabling various doctrinal and pastoral challenges to be faced in a collegial way and thus inspiring in the faithful "a new missionary impulse and greater openness to the transcendent dimension of life, without which Europe runs the risk of losing its humanist spirit that it nevertheless loves and defends".

Another significant contribution of the Congregation to the renewal of ecclesial life was its study on complementarity between hierarchical and charismatic gifts, called upon to collaborate in synergy for the good of the Church and the world, and whose relationship evokes the Trinitarian root, the bond between the divine Word made flesh and the Holy Spirit, which is always a gift of the Father and the Son.

"It is precisely this root, if acknowledged and listened to humbly, that permits the Church to let herself be renewed at any time. … Unity and plurality are the seal of a Church that, moved by the Spirit, knows how to walk with a sure and faithful step towards the purpose that the Risen Lord has indicated to them throughout history. Here we see clearly how the synodal dynamic, if correctly understood, is born from communion and leads towards an increasingly implemented, deepened and extended, in the service of the life and the mission of the People of God".

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