Sunday, April 15, 2018

"Our Moral Response to Moral Evil, the Critical Question Today" --Joseph Ratzinger

The Obligation of Bishops to Teach the Truth with Clarity

"...[T]he critical question facing us not only as church, but even as a human society, is our moral response to the pressing problem of evil in its legion forms."

"...[T]he bishop [is] a witness to the moral life of the church."

We teach what Christ teaches, what the Church believes, not our own ideas.

"To acknowledge Jesus as Lord, accepting his lordship over us, is to say not only to him, but to everyone we meet that it is he and not we, who is guiding our lives, making the ultimate decisions which count, calling the shots."

Christ will not abandon us. He is with us, our Good Shepherd. That is what the word pastor means, the one who feeds, leads and cares for the flock, and recovers the sheep when they get lost.

"In the area of moral teaching, what we teach must nourish our people. They must be able to consume, to take in what we teach. And so we have a real commitment to teach clearly in words and by our very lives... [M]ost of all, what we teach must be good for them... We must...feed the sheep. It is not an option. It is an obligation...for us an exceptionless moral norm. If we fail to do it, we are not pastors, we are not bishops. It is our very identity."

Dissent is an Intellectual Decision of Isolation.

Private dissent itself does grave spiritual damage to the dissenter who alienates himself from the body of believers.

But "[a] person who teaches [dissent] in the name of the church is taking what is basically a personal dissent and exaggerating its importance and its damage by propagating it...not simply...teach[ing] his dissent...but in the name of the church. It is odd that people who have grave misgivings about the right of the church to exist in any institutional form, seem to have no problem with the contradiction implicit in teaching in a Catholic school which, after all, is an institution. Integrity seems to me to require that the person who dissents should not, precisely because he cannot, teach in the name of the church or even give that impression."


The sensus fidelium (the mind of  the faithful) maintains the sensus fidei. "The single most salient characteristic of the sensus fidei is its catholicity. Catholicity does not simply imply a universality of place and time, but also a continuity in the community of faith which links the contemporary church to the apostolic church, the community of the believers in Jesus of Nazareth. This continuity is a sign which is always clear: If, as St. Vincent of Lerins said in his famous dictum, a belief has been held semper, ubique et ab omnibus, then, as we can see in light of Lumen Gentium (no. 25), that teaching makes a compelling claim on my belief."

"Widespread dissent is not a proof for the [legitimacy of the position] of the dissenting theologian, but it may be his fault."


"The problem with proportionalism as a moral theological method seems to me to lie principally in its exclusivity...

"When used exclusively, proportionalism ultimately rests upon a presupposition which we cannot accept... [It] implies that what is good is not really good in itself, but is merely better. If masturbation and contraception were only physical or ontic or premoral acts, that is to say, without necessary involvement of the spiritual dimension of the agent, I doubt very much whether anyone would perform them. It is because the body and soul of the person interpenetrate one another that the hypothesis of a purely physical act represents a false distinction. It is precisely because of the personal involvement, with its personal goals and its personal effects, that masturbation and contraception cannot be seen as devoid of moral content in and of themselves."

Moral acts must be judged regarding the person committing them, as person, within his responsibility to God, to others and to himself, as persons.

The Duty of Catholic Unity

"I find it curious that we can find broad consensus for ecumenical unity, that is, unity between the various denominations into which Christianity has been split. We can see the scandal, the evil, involved in the fact that the body of Christ has been divided. But should not that same fervent desire for unity between the churches also result in a renewed appreciation for unity within the Catholic Church herself?"

"What the bishop does, and in fact how he does it, either nourishes and builds up the flock or deprives it and scatters it. The notion of unity is a key one here. A flock is a flock precisely because it is unified, not everyone wandering all over the countryside on his own."

For example, the post-conciliar liturgical reform was only possible because of the ecclesial unity which supports it.

Joseph Ratzinger, "Dissent and Proportionalism in Moral Theology," Address to the Bishops' Workshop, February 9, 1984, Dallas, Texas in "Origins," March 15, 1984, Vol. 13: No. 40, 666-669.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...