148 – “The Church does not disregard the constructive elements in those situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage”

In reading Saint Augustine’s The City of God, we get the sensation that he was writing for our days; not what he wrote on the city of God itself, but rather, the city of the evil one as he describes it.

Today, the laws and comportments referring to matrimony and the family constitute a deformation – a veritable departure from, and offense to what was by established God. The institution of the family is sadly destroyed and degraded by the enemies of the Holy Church. Woe to those who valiantly and heroically defend and give testimony of family values according to Jesus Christ! They can hope for nothing but complete indifference from many, and even attempts to impede their continuous testimony of matrimonial indissolubility. All are quite aware that these affirmations are no exaggeration. The pressure to ‘adapt’ to the times is the cruelest of battles that a Christian has to face today.

Formerly, the few who resisted in this fight found strength and support in Catholic Doctrine. When they felt they were about to give in, they could consult a priest who would remind them of their obligations, and God’s love for them; this kept them faithful amid the storm.

And today? What kind of support is available for the young girl who practices purity, or the upright youth, or parents under attack? Not even in the innovative magisterium of he who sits n St. Peter’s throne will they find clear doctrine that teaches them to follow the sacred laws of God. In place of the support they seek, they will come to face with justifications regarding the formation of ‘analogous families’ which, though opposed to the teachings of God and his the Church, are more favorably looked upon and understood than the Christian family itself.

Yes, this is the sad situation in which Francis – who so professes his love for the marginalized – has left properly constituted families. They are the only marginalized group Francis absolutely fails to support.

But the truth is one and unchanging, and all unions outside of marriage continue being an offense toward the Creator and unacceptable in the eyes of the Church. The infallible Magisterium defines them with this unchanging precision. Let us love clarity and truth, and leave confusion and lies to the children of darkness.

Francis

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Quote A

Christian marriage, as a reflection of the union between Christ and his Church, is fully realized in the union between a man and a woman who give themselves to each other in a free, faithful and exclusive love, who belong to each other until death and are open to the transmission of life, and are consecrated by the sacrament, which grants them the grace to become domestic church and a leaven of new life for society. Some forms of union radically contradict this ideal, while others realize it in at least a partial and analogous way. The Synod Fathers stated that the Church does not disregard the constructive elements in those situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage. (Apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, no. 292, March 19, 2016)

Note: regarding the valorization of  “constructive elements in those situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage”, the note placed a little further on (note 329) leaves the doors open so that, in living together, a man and woman are not preoccupied with a relationship modo uxorio, that is, with the sin of concupiscence, with this cynical explanation: “In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, ‘it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers’”

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of contents

IWhat ‘union’ fulfills in a partial and analogous manner the ideal of Catholic marriage? May irregular unions be considered in some way legitimate?
II – The situations of familial union that do not correspond to Church teaching on matrimony may only be valued if they are apt for entire regularity. In themselves, they continue being irregular and adulterous
III – In a world that does not recognize the laws of God and of the Church, valuing irregular situations is the same as promoting them


I – What ‘union’ fulfills in a partial and analogous manner the ideal of Catholic marriage? May irregular unions be considered in some way legitimate?


John XXIII
– The transmission of human life is subject to the all-holy, immutable laws of God

John Paul II
– Entire love cannot exist in unions, like concubinage, which are contrary to the law of God – Only undissolvable matrimony, assumed in fidelity and open to life, is a family community
– The family must not be inadequately portrayed
– The negative precepts of the Gospel express the urgent need to protect human life and the communion of persons in marriage
– There are no different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations

Leo XIII
– Reprobated licentious and free love were condemned by the Church ever since the beginning
– Any union among the faithful which is not a sacrament has not the force and nature of a proper marriage
– Those with corrupt morals endeavor to deprive marriage of all holiness

Pius IX
– Any other union except the sacramental union is nothing but disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage

Pius XII
– It is never permitted to yield to the carnal appetite outside of matrimony

Council of Trent (Ecumenical XIX)
– Anathema: whoever denies that any new convivence after separation from the legitimate spouse is adultery

Catechism of Trent (Ecumenical XIX)
– To be a family, children must be born of a true and lawful wife

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– It is an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or their circumstances
– Fornication is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and a scandal

John Paul II
– Carnal union outside of marriage is morally wrong


II – The situations of familial union that do not correspond to Church teaching on matrimony may only be valued if they are apt for entire regularity. In themselves, they continue being irregular and adulterous


Pontifical Council for the Family
– In cases of irregular second union, ascertain whether previous religious marriage was null

John Paul II
– Catholics who contract a merely civil marriage should be induced to regularize their situation in light of Christian principles

Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts
– Pastoral action must aim to help Catholics in civil marriage to regularize their situation with religious marriage

Congregation for Bishops
– Many Catholics united only in a civil ceremony or the divorced can regularize their situation, but until that is done they still are in irregular marital situations

Benedict XVI
– Not all petitions to declare the nullity of a marriage are valid

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– The good of children, in itself, is not sufficient reason for an irregular marital situation


III – In a world that does not recognize the laws of God and of the Church, valuing irregular situations is the same as promoting them


Sacred Scripture
– The danger of not calling evil by its name
– The time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths

Pontifical Council for the Family
– It is devoid of reality and good sense to think that the liberation of women implies liberation from matrimony

Benedict XVI
– The increase of divorce and de facto unions urge the proclamation of the Gospel of Life and Family in its integrity
– Bishops are bound to reaffirm non-negotiable values constantly

John Paul II
– A pastoral proposal for the family in crisis presupposes doctrinal clarity
– In the name of understanding and compassion, one must not hold out false hope but rather the clarity of truth
– It is a serious pastoral omission not to proclaim the truth about marriage and the family
– At a time of deep uncertainty about truth, doctrine must be taught with clarity

John XXIII
– Speak with simplicity; speak with clarity! Darkness envelopes human souls and institutions – The words that make up our sermons are not our own, but those of the celestial doctrine

Pius XII
– The imprudence of devaluating what has been traditionally conceived, expressed and perfected by men endowed with no common talent and holiness for unstable tenets of a new philosophy

Leo XIII
– To keep silence when from all sides clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe

Leo XII
– The graver the evils threatening the flock, the greater the solicitude the Roman Pontiffs ought to employ in preventing them

Pius IX
– Many evils arise from ignorance of divine matters essential for salvation: the necessity of preaching our august religion, its doctrine, precepts, and discipline


I – What kinds of union fulfill in a partial and analogous manner the ideal of the Catholic family? May irregular unions be considered in some way legitimate?


John XXIII

  • The transmission of human life is subject to the all-holy, immutable laws of God

We must solemnly proclaim that human life is transmitted by means of the family, and the family is based upon a marriage which is one and indissoluble and, with respect to Christians, raised to the dignity of a sacrament. The transmission of human life is the result of a personal and conscious act, and, as such, is subject to the all-holy, inviolable and immutable laws of God, which no man may ignore or disobey. (John XXIII. Encyclical Mater et magistra, no. 193, May 15, 1961)

John Paul II

  • Entire love cannot exist in unions, like concubinage, which are contrary to the law of God – Only undissolvable matrimony, assumed in fidelity and open to life, is a family community

For this reason, it is necessary to make very clear that entire love cannot exist in those unions, such as in concubinage, which are contrary to the law of God. I think particularly of those children born out of wedlock, with the effects of suffering, irresponsibility, and marginalization which that brings with it. As you have repeatedly manifested, only undissolvable matrimony, fully assumed in fidelity and always open to life, can constitute the firm and durable base of a family community that fulfills its vocation as a center of manifestation and propagation of true love. (John Paul II. Addresses to the bishops of El Salvador on their ad limina visit, January 10, 1994)

  • The family must not be inadequately portrayed

On the other hand, the family and family life are all too often inadequately portrayed in the media. Infidelity, sexual activity outside of marriage, and the absence of a moral and spiritual vision of the marriage covenant are depicted uncritically, while positive support is at times given to divorce, contraception, abortion and homosexuality. Such portrayals, by promoting causes inimical to marriage and the family, are detrimental to the common good of society. (John Paul II. Message for the 38th World Communications Day, May 23, 2004)

  • The negative precepts of the Gospel express the urgent need to protect human life and the communion of persons in marriage

The commandments of which Jesus reminds the young man are meant to safeguard the good of the person, the image of God, by protecting his goods. ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness’ are moral rules formulated in terms of prohibitions. These negative precepts express with particular force the ever urgent need to protect human life, the communion of persons in marriage, private property, truthfulness and people’s good name. The commandments thus represent the basic condition for love of neighbour; at the same time they are the proof of that love. They are the first necessary step on the journey towards freedom, its starting-point. (John Paul II. Encyclical Veritatis splendor, no. 13, August 6, 1993)

  • There are no different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations

They [the spouses] cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. ‘And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God’s command with serene confidence in God’s grace and in his or her own will’ (Homily at the Close of the Sixth Synod of Bishops October 25, 1980). (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio, no. 82, November 22, 1981)

Leo XIII

  • Reprobated licentious and free love were condemned by the Church ever since the beginning

Christ, therefore, having renewed marriage to such and so great excellence, commended and entrusted all the discipline bearing upon these matters to His Church. The Church, always and everywhere, has so used her power with reference to the marriages of Christians that men have seen clearly how it belongs to her as of native right; not being made hers by any human grant, but given divinely to her by the will of her Founder. Her constant and watchful care in guarding marriage, by the preservation of its sanctity, is so well understood as to not need proof. That the judgment of the Council of Jerusalem reprobated licentious and free love, (Acts 15:29) we all know. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Arcanum divinae sapientiae, no. 13, February 10, 1880)

  • Any union among the faithful which is not a sacrament has not the force and nature of a proper marriage

Let special care be taken that the people be well instructed in the precepts of Christian wisdom, so that they may always remember that marriage was not instituted by the will of man, but, from the very beginning, by the authority and command of God; that it does not admit of plurality of wives or husbands; that Christ, the Author of the New Covenant, raised it from a rite of nature to be a sacrament, and gave to His Church legislative and judicial power with regard to the bond of union. On this point the very greatest care must be taken to instruct them, lest their minds should be led into error by the unsound conclusions of adversaries who desire that the Church should be deprived of that power. In like manner, all ought to understand clearly that, if there be any union of a man and a woman among the faithful of Christ which is not a sacrament, such union has not the force and nature of a proper marriage (Leo XIII. Encyclical Arcanum divinae sapientiae, no. 39-40, February 10, 1880)

  • Those with corrupt morals endeavor to deprive marriage of all holiness

The chief reason why they act in this way is because very many, imbued with the maxims of a false philosophy and corrupted in morals, judge nothing so unbearable as submission and obedience; and strive with all their might to bring about that not only individual men, but families, also-indeed, human society itself-may in haughty pride despise the sovereignty of God. Now, since the family and human society at large spring from marriage, these men will on no account allow matrimony to be the subject of the jurisdiction of the Church. Nay, they endeavor to deprive it of all holiness, and so bring it within the contracted sphere of those rights which, having been instituted by man, are ruled and administered by the civil jurisprudence of the community. Wherefore it necessarily follows that they attribute all power over marriage to civil rulers, and allow none whatever to the Church; and, when the Church exercises any such power, they think that she acts either by favor of the civil authority or to its injury. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Arcanum divinae sapientiae, no. 16-17, February 10, 1880)

Pius IX

  • Any other union except the sacramental union is nothing but disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage

No Catholic is ignorant or cannot know that matrimony is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelical law, instituted by Christ the Lord, and that for that reason, there can be no marriage between the faithful without there being at one and the same time a sacrament, and that, therefore, any other union of man and woman among Christians, except the sacramental union, even if contracted under the power of any civil law, is nothing else than a disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage very frequently condemned by the Church, and, hence, that the sacrament can never be separated from the conjugal agreement. (Pius IX. Denzinger-Hünermann 2998, Allocution Acerbissimum vobiscum, September 27, 1852)

Pius XII

  • It is never permitted to yield to the carnal appetite outside of matrimony

In effect, conjugal union, by its very nature, contains the destiny, aptitude and sufficiency for the end mentioned, for, those who contract marriage or live in marriage find themselves connected and linked to each other by a mutual, exclusive and perpetual right to carry out acts which are apt – of themselves – for the begetting of children. Once this right is established, and given that – on one hand – the sexual appetite feels ardently impelled to exercise the generating faculty, and that – on the other hand – man is not permitted to yield to this appetite outside of matrimony, it is evident that in matrimony the attainment of the purpose of procreation and the education of children have been provided for in a manner sufficient and efficacious. (Pius XII. Instruction to the Roman Rota, January 22, 1944)

Council of Trent (Ecumenical XIX)

  • Anathema: whoever denies that any new convivence after separation from the legitimate spouse is adultery

If anyone says that the Church errs, inasmuch as she has taught and still teaches that in accordance with evangelical and apostolic doctrine (Mt 10:1; 1Co 7) the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved because of adultery of one of the married persons, and that both, or even the innocent one, who has given no occasion for adultery, cannot during the lifetime of the other contract another marriage, and that he, who after the dismissal of the adulteress shall marry another, is guilty of adultery, and that she also, who after the dismissal of the adulterer shall marry another: let him be anathema. (Denzinger-Hünermann 1807. Council of Trent, Session XXIV, Doctrine concerning the Sacrament of Marriage, November 11, 1563)

Catechism of Trent (Ecumenical XIX)

  • To be a family, children must be born of a true and lawful wife

The faithful should also be shown that there are three blessings of marriage: children, fidelity and the Sacrament. These are blessings which to some degree compensate for the inconveniences referred to by the Apostle in the words: Such shall have tribulation of the flesh, and they lead to this other result that sexual intercourse, which is sinful outside of marriage, is rendered right and honourable. The first blessing, then, is a family, that is to say, children born of a true and lawful wife. So highly did the Apostle esteem this blessing that he says: ‘The woman shall be saved by bearing children. (Catechism of Trent, 2700)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • It is an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or their circumstances

It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1756)

  • Fornication is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and a scandal

Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2353)

John Paul II

  • Carnal union outside of marriage is morally wrong

In portraying the sexual union between husband and wife as a special expression of their covenanted love, you rightly stated: ‘Sexual intercourse is a moral and human good only within marriage, outside marriage it is wrong’. As ‘men with the message of truth and the power of God’ (2Cor 6 :7), as authentic teachers of God’s law and as compassionate pastors you also rightly stated: ‘Homosexual activity … as distinguished from homosexual orientation, is morally wrong’. In the clarity of this truth, you exemplified the real charity of Christ; you did not betray those people who, because of homosexuality, are confronted with difficult moral problems, as would have happened if, in the name of understanding and compassion, or for any other reason, you had held out false hope to any brother or sister. Rather, by your witness to the truth of humanity in God’s plan, you effectively manifested fraternal love, upholding the true dignity, the true human dignity, of those who look to Christ’s Church for the guidance which comes from the light of God’s word. (John Paul II. Address to the bishops from the United States of America, October 5, 1979)


II – The situations of familial union that do not correspond to Church teaching on matrimony may only be valued if they are apt for entire regularity. In themselves, they continue being irregular and adulterous


Pontifical Council for the Family

  • In cases of irregular second union, ascertain whether previous religious marriage was null

As long as they remain in a situation that is objectively contrary to the Gospel, they are not in full communion with the Church, and thus, cannot be admitted to receive the Eucharist, a sacrament of not only of spiritual, but also visible communion. […] to develop good relations with them, some specific encounter may be opportune. It is necessary to also ascertain whether there exist eventual possibilities of regularizing their living together, as in the case of the previous religious marriage having been null. (Pontifical Council for the Family. Conference on ‘The bishop and family ministry’, September 16, 2009)

John Paul II

  • Catholics who contract a merely civil marriage should be induced to regularize their situation in light of Christian principles

There are increasing cases of Catholics who for ideological or practical reasons, prefer to contract a merely civil marriage, and who reject or at least defer religious marriage. Their situation cannot of course be likened to that of people simply living together without any bond at all, because in the present case there is at least a certain commitment to a properly-defined and probably stable state of life, even though the possibility of a future divorce is often present in the minds of those entering a civil marriage. By seeking public recognition of their bond on the part of the State, such couples show that they are ready to accept not only its advantages but also its obligations. Nevertheless, not even this situation is acceptable to the Church. The aim of pastoral action will be to make these people understand the need for consistency between their choice of life and the faith that they profess, and to try to do everything possible to induce them to regularize their situation in the light of Christian principle. While treating them with great charity and bringing them into the life of the respective communities, the pastors of the Church will regrettably not be able to admit them to the sacraments. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio, no. 82, November 22, 1981)

Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts

  • Pastoral action must aim to help Catholics in civil marriage to regularize their situation with religious marriage

In the case of Catholics who, for ideological and (or) practical reasons, contract strictly civil marriage, excluding, or at least deferring, religious marriage for diverse reasons – including those of scarcity of clergy and ignorance of the extraordinary form of the sacrament. In any case, pastoral action must aim to convince and help these persons to regularize their situation, in such a way that it it adapts itself to their faith and to Christian morals. The Exhortation Familiaris consortio recalls that: “While treating them with great charity and bringing them into the life of the respective communities, the pastors of the Church will regrettably not be able to admit them to the sacraments” (Familiaris consortio, n. 82). Obviously, in this case, the possibility must also not be excluded – since it does not involve faithful who have been excommunicated or interdicted –, of privately admitting them to sacred Communion if they commit to living in continence with a view to contracting canonical matrimony, and if rite dispositi y remoto scandalo. (Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts, The Eucharist in the juridical order of the Church, November 12, 2005)

Congregation for Bishops

  • Many Catholics united only in a civil ceremony or the divorced can regularize their situation, but until that is done they still are in irregular marital situations

Sadly, the number of baptized persons today who find themselves in irregular marital situations has increased: so-called ‘trial marriages’, de facto unions, Catholics united only in a civil ceremony, the divorced. Each of these situations causes grave harm to the persons themselves, to their children, and to society in general. In such cases, Bishops do all in their power to bring about the regularization of these relationships. (Congregation for Bishops. Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, Apostolorum Successores, no. 202, February 22, 2004)

Benedict XVI

  • Not all petitions to declare the nullity of a marriage are valid

One must avoid pseudo-pastoral claims that would situate questions on a purely horizontal plane, in which what matters is to satisfy subjective requests to arrive at a declaration of nullity at any cost, so that the parties may be able to overcome, among other things, obstacles to receiving the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The supreme good of readmission to Eucharistic Communion after sacramental Reconciliation demands, instead, that due consideration be given to the authentic good of the individuals, inseparable from the truth of their canonical situation. It would be a false ‘good’ and a grave lack of justice and love to pave the way for them to receive the sacraments nevertheless, and would risk causing them to live in objective contradiction to the truth of their own personal condition. (Benedict XVI. Address for the inauguration of the judicial year of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, January 29, 2010)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • The good of children, in itself, is not sufficient reason for an irregular marital situation

The sacrament demands the indissolubility of matrimony, and the repudiated man or woman may not unite with another person not even for the sake of bearing children. (Saint Augustine of Hippo, Literal Commentary of Genesis, Book. IX, ch. VII, no. 12)


III – In a world that does not recognize the laws of God and of the Church, valuing irregular situations is the same as promoting them


Sacred Scripture

  • The danger of not calling evil by its name

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter! (Is 5:20)

  • The time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim 4:1-5)

Pontifical Council for the Family

  • It is devoid of reality and good sense to think that the liberation of women implies liberation from matrimony

It is just to promote equal opportunity for men and women, refuting fixed roles and social hierarchies. But it is devoid of reality and good sense to think, as some have, that the liberation of women implies liberation from matrimony (a word some sought to eliminate from the code [of canon law] and civil [law]) and of maternity (a job that, as they thought, would be substituted by the machine for the gestation of the new human beings). Children need the love of father and mother be born and to grow in a dignified manner. (Pontifical Council for the Family. Conference, Regina Apostolorum, The bishop and family ministry, September 16, 2009)

Benedict XVI

  • The increase of divorce and de facto unions urge the proclamation of the Gospel of Life and Family in its integrity

The family was rightly one of the main themes of your Synod, as it has been in the pastoral guidelines of the Church in Italy and throughout the world. Indeed, in your Diocese, moreover, as elsewhere, divorce and de facto unions are on the increase, and this constitutes for Christians an urgent appeal to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel of Life and of the Family in its integrity. The family is called to be an ‘intimate partnership of life and love’ (Gaudium et Spes, no. 48), because it is founded on indissoluble marriage. (Benedict XVI. Address to pilgrims from the diocese of Verona, June 4, 2005)

  • Bishops are bound to reaffirm non-negotiable values constantly

Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms. These values are not negotiable. […] Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them. (Benedict XVI. Apostolic exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, no. 83, February 22, 2007)

John Paul II

  • A pastoral proposal for the family in crisis presupposes doctrinal clarity

A pastoral proposal for the family in crisis presupposes, as a preliminary requirement, doctrinal clarity, effectively taught in moral theology about sexuality and the respect for life. The opposing opinions of theologians, priests and religious that the media promote on pre-marital relations, birth control, the admission of divorced persons to the sacraments, homosexuality and artificial insemination, the use of abortion practices or euthanasia, show the degree of uncertainty and confusion that disturb and end by deadening the consciences of so many of the faithful. (John Paul II. Address to the bishops of Brazil on their ad limina visit, no. 6, November 16, 2002)

  • In the name of understanding and compassion, one must not hold out false hope but rather the clarity of truth

As ‘men with the message of truth and the power of God’ (2Cor 6:7), as authentic teachers of God’s law and as compassionate pastors you also rightly stated: ‘Homosexual activity … as distinguished from homosexual orientation, is morally wrong’. In the clarity of this truth, you exemplified the real charity of Christ; you did not betray those people who, because of homosexuality, are confronted with difficult moral problems, as would have happened if, in the name of understanding and compassion, or for any other reason, you had held out false hope to any brother or sister. Rather, by your witness to the truth of humanity in God’s plan, you effectively manifested fraternal love, upholding the true dignity, the true human dignity, of those who look to Christ’s Church for the guidance which comes from the light of God’s word. (John Paul II. Address to the bishops from the United States of America, October 5, 1979)

  • It is a serious pastoral omission not to proclaim the truth about marriage and the family

Indeed, there is no lack of attempts, in public opinion and in civil legislation, to make equivalent to the family mere de facto unions or to recognize as such same-sex unions. These and other anomalies lead us with pastoral firmness to proclaim the truth about marriage and the family. Not to do so would be a serious pastoral omission that would lead people into error, especially those who have the important responsibility of making decisions for the common good of the nation. (John Paul II. Address to the bishops of Brazil on their ad limina visit, no. 4, November 16, 2002)

  • At a time of deep uncertainty about truth, doctrine must be taught with clarity

The Church is called to proclaim an absolute and universal truth to the world at a time when in many cultures there is deep uncertainty as to whether such a truth could possibly exist. Therefore, the Church must speak in ways which carry the force of genuine witness. In considering what this entails, Pope Paul VI identified four qualities, which he called perspicuitas, lenitas, fiducia, prudentiaclarity, humanity, confidence and prudence (cf. Ecclesiam Suam, 81). To speak with clarity means that we need to explain comprehensibly the truth of Revelation and the Church’s teachings which stem from it. What we teach is not always immediately or easily accessible to people today. For this reason, there is a need not simply to repeat but to explain. (John Paul II. Address to the Episcopal Conference of the Antilles on their ad limina visit, May 7, 2002)

John XXIII

  • Speak with simplicity; speak with clarity! Darkness envelopes human souls and institutions – The words that make up our sermons are not our own, but those of the celestial doctrine

“Wherever the ignorance of religious truths extends, customs become lax” (Saint Bernardino of Siena). Speak, then, with simplicity; speak with clarity; illuminate, illuminate. After twenty centuries of Christian light, darkness still envelopes many human souls and institutions. And one must not have illusions. The grave task that the Divine Founder confided to his Church will demand an attention and application which are increasingly fitted to the needs of the times. The words that make up our sermons are not our own, but those of the celestial doctrine. In the work of illuminating souls, confided to us, our members will tire and out and our tongue dry out before we fulfill the task perfectly. (John XXIII. Address to the lenten pilgrims of Rome, February 19, 1960)

Pius XII

  • The imprudence of devaluating what has been traditionally conceived, expressed and perfected by men endowed with no common talent and holiness for unstable tenets of a new philosophy

Hence to neglect, or to reject, or to devalue so many and such great resources which have been conceived, expressed and perfected so often by the age-old work of men endowed with no common talent and holiness, working under the vigilant supervision of the holy magisterium and with the light and leadership of the Holy Ghost in order to state the truths of the faith ever more accurately, to do this so that these things may be replaced by conjectural notions and by some formless and unstable tenets of a new philosophy, tenets which, like the flowers of the field, are in existence today and die tomorrow; this is supreme imprudence and something that would make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind. (Pius XII. Encyclical Humani generis, no. 11, August 12, 1950)

Leo XIII

  • To keep silence when from all sides clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe

Amid such reckless and widespread folly of opinion, it is, as We have said, the office of the Church to undertake the defense of truth and uproot errors from the mind, and this charge has to be at all times sacredly observed by her, seeing that the honor of God and the salvation of men are confided to her keeping. But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as Saint Thomas maintains: ‘Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers’ (STh, II-II, q. 3, a. 2, ad 2m). To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. Moreover, want of vigor on the part of Christians is so much the more blameworthy, as not seldom little would be needed on their part to bring to naught false charges and refute erroneous opinions, and by always exerting themselves more strenuously they might reckon upon being successful. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Sapientiae christianae, no. 14, January 10, 1890)

Leo XII

  • The graver the evils threatening the flock, the greater the solicitude the Roman Pontiffs ought to employ in preventing them

Hence, the more grave the evils threatening the flock, the greater the solicitude the Roman Pontiffs ought to employ in preventing them. For, those who have been placed in the topmost Watch Tower of the Church can discern from afar the artifices which the enemies of the Christian family undertake to destroy the Church of Christ: (which they will never achieve) they can point them out and expose them to the faithful, who may then guard against them; they can drive away and remove them by their Authority. (Leo XII. Apostolic Letter Quo griaviora, no. 1, March 13, 1826)

Pius IX

  • Many evils arise from ignorance of divine matters essential for salvation: the necessity of preaching our august religion, its doctrine, precepts, and discipline

Through the parish priests chiefly and other ecclesiastics known for integrity of life, gravity of morals, and constant adherence to sound doctrine, may you teach unremittingly and accurately: at one time preaching the divine word, at another instructing the people in the mysteries of our august religion, its doctrine, precepts, and discipline. You, above all, know that many evils generally arise from ignorance of divine matters essential for salvation. Hence, you will understand that it behooves you to use every care and diligence that so detrimental a condition be prevented. (Pius IX. Encyclical Quanto conficiamur, no. 14, August 10, 1863)


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