Popes blunt remarks pose challenge for bishops
In recent years, many American bishops have drawn a harder line with parishioners on what could be considered truly Roman Catholic, adopting a more aggressive style of correction and telling abortion rights supporters to stay away from the sacrament of Communion.
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#1 Sep 28, 2013
I am becoming increasingly concerned at the cacophony of voices raised in criticism of His Holiness Pope Benedict XV1.
They portray the Supreme Pontiff as if he is some form of Jurassic monster, gripping on to an out dated dogma and unable to reconcile himself to the modern world and the changes that it is demanding.
The truth is that Pope Benedict is a lone voice in the wilderness, defending the core principles of what makes us human.
I want to begin by making a few points:
• There is nothing new in the teachings of Pope Benedict. All of the moral dogma that the Pope presents has been part of the churches teaching for time immemorial.
• It is not the Pope’s job to invent new doctrines, or to attempt to water down or substantially change existing church teachings. It is the role of the Pope to preach the sacred deposit of faith and to defend it from those who would undermine it.
• It is also the Pope’s duty to present the faith in a way that is relevant to the modern world. Hence the saying “ecclesiae semper reformanda”– the church is always in need of reform.
• The church is in the world, but not of the world. Therefore, it needs to be understood that the church proposes a set of values and a way of life that is essentially different to what the world wants. Therefore, Catholics need to re discover the fact that they are part of a community that will always stand in opposition to the ways of the world.
• Much of what the Pope teaches in regards to sexual morality is not so much a matter of church law, but rather an astute observation and interpretation of the natural law that God has written into his creation.
• It is also, in many cases, a matter of the law of God. For example, in the controversial area of abortion, one of the 10 commandments that God gave to Moses was “thou shalt not kill”. There are no ifs or butts to this and no exemptions.
Since the pontificate of John Paul 11, the church has made a conscious decision to promote the “culture of life” in direct opposition to the “culture of death” that has permeated the world.
This means that the church has an integrated set of teachings that promotes this culture of life.
• Opposition to artificial birth control as this attempts to break the natural link between sex and the pro creation of life.
• Opposition to any act that deliberately and consciously seeks to end a human life. This includes abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty etc.
• The clear teaching that human life is sacred from the moment of conception to its natural demise.
• A clear teaching that all people are made in the image and likeness of God and that they have equal rights.
No one should be surprised that the Pope is leading the opposition to gay marriage
This is not encouraging discrimination, but rather a matter of defending the fundamental understanding of Christian marriage.
By their natural design the bodies of a man and a woman complement each other and the sexual act and the organs of the body are designed for the creation of new life. And it is a fundamental teaching of the church that each and every sexual act must remain open to the possibility of the transmission of human life.
Sex between two men or two women can never meet this fundamental test. So if we understand marriage as the community that is intended as the place where children can be born and nurtured then a relationship between two men or women can never be recognised as a marriage.
I believe that the Pope and the church will always teach the fundamental truths of Christianity and that history will record Pope Benedict as one of the greatest teachers of the faith in the history of the papacy.
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