The Council Fathers strongly perceived a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way

To say that someone is ‘as changeable as a weathervane’ is a way to describe a person who constantly modifies his opinion or attitude according to the trend of the moment, just like a weathervane at the whims of the wind.

A compass is the extreme opposite: faithful to itself, it always points north, indicating the course with a sureness that is characteristic of things that are governed by permanent and immutable laws. Consequently, the compass is able to be used to guide sailors in tranquil or turbulent seas, in the storm as well as in calm weather.

If we were to compare the Church with one of these instruments, which would we choose? The answer is not as simple as it seems at first sight. Pope Benedict XVI had warned against a ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity’, which we could even call the ‘hermeneutic of the weathervane’…

So, during the Jubilee of Mercy, we might just ask: What is the meaning of mercy within the enduring teachings of the Church? Is it what Francis promulgates? Furthermore: what is the Church for Francis, a compass or weathervane?

Francis

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I have chosen the date of 8 December because of its rich meaning in the recent history of the Church. In fact, I will open the Holy Door on the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. The Church feels a great need to keep this event alive. With the Council, the Church entered a new phase of her history. The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The walls which for too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way. (Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, no. 4, April 11, 2015)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of contents

I – Be careful with the hermeneutic of discontinuity: not every novelty is from the Holy Spirit
II – The Gospel is not a product of passing trends, the Church has the mission of transmitting it in its integrity and purity
III – The sacred walls of the Church: a privilege for some that must be destroyed or a protection for virtue to be loved?
IV – By the promise of Jesus Christ and the assistance of the Holy Spirit the Church is holy. She has always been a citadel of mercy for repentant sinners, but also an invincible fortress against any compromise with sin


I – Be careful with the hermeneutic of discontinuity: not every novelty is from the Holy Spirit


Benedict XVI
– The hermeneutic of discontinuity: a split between the pre-conciliar and the post-conciliar Church. This is to fundamentally misunderstand what a Council is
– We must see the Council in this perspective of continuity

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
– The teaching of the Vatican Council II should be received and applied in continuity with Tradition the Church
– The Second Vatican Council did not change the previously held doctrine on the Church

Benedict XVI
– The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church


II – The Gospel is not a product of passing trends, the Church has the mission of transmitting it in its integrity and purity


Sacred Scripture
– There is only one way of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Paul VI
– The Gospel entrusted to us is the word of truth – it should never be betrayed or hidden out of a desire to please men

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– The truth of the divine intellect – criteria for all else that is true – is altogether immutable

John Paul II
– Truth is revealed, not born simply of human experience – in order to face the present challenges the Church must announce Truth, which is God Himself, in all integrity and purity

Synod of Bishops
– The transmission of the faith must be firmly anchored in her living Tradition

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
– The Apostles did not evangelize in accordance with their opinion but according to revealed truth

Benedict XVI
– Proclaim the Gospel without fear or reticence, never yielding to the conditioning of the world

Leo XIII
– The false idea that the Church should shape her teachings in accordance with the spirit of the age

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
– The Church is bound by a radical faithfulness to the Word of God; not by the principles of the social order of any historical period


III – The sacred walls of the Church: a privilege for some that must be destroyed or a protection for virtue to be loved?


Sacred Scripture
– Celestial Jerusalem, prototype of the Church, has a massive wall: nothing unclean will enter it, only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life
– Outside of the Holy city are the unchaste and all who practice deceit

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Of the house of God: He is Himself the wall; blessed are those who dwell therein
– Without walls the flock will be exposed to many dangers

Pius IX
– It is the mission of the Bishop to defend the flock from the snares of the enemy
– We live in a corrupt and pestilent atmosphere and must preserve ourselves to not be contaminated by false doctrines

John Paul II
– By the prophetic action of the Holy Spirit, the Church must protect the people from the influence of false prophets

Saint John Chrysostom
– The prelates who bring wicked men into the churches collaborate with the devil

Origen
– The enemies of the Church wish to destroy the walls of the Gospel

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Anyone who clashes against this impregnable wall of the Church’s power will be wiped out


IV – By the promise of Jesus Christ and the assistance of the Holy Spirit the Church is holy. She has always been a citadel of mercy for repentant sinners, but also an invincible fortress against any compromise with sin


Catechism of the Catholic Church
– The Church is sanctified and sanctifying

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)
-The Church is brought to perfection by the gift of the Holy Spirit

Gregory XVI
-It is injurious to consider the Church as subject to defect, ignorance or other misfortune

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– The Church cannot err – such that she might require changing course

Benedict XVI
-The Church of love is also the Church of truth and fidelity to the Gospel

John Paul II
-The Gospel of meekness and humility is the same Gospel of exigent morality and even of severe threats
-‘Meekness and humility of heart’ does not mean weakness in face of evil; Jesus came bringing the sword

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
– It is to repentance that the Lord came to call sinners. Who would advise blind men, just about to fall over a precipice, to continue as if it were on the right path?

Pius X
– Whilst Jesus was kind to sinners he did not respect their false ideas – mercy does not mean an accord with sin

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Charity to one’s neighbor is shown in correction

Pius XII
-The Church is the rock of truth when even at the cost of torments or martyrdom, it has to say: ‘Non licet; it is not allowed!’


I – Be careful with the hermeneutic of discontinuity: not every novelty is from the Holy Spirit


Benedict XVI

  • The hermeneutic of discontinuity: a split between the pre-conciliar and the post-conciliar Church. This is to fundamentally misunderstand what a Council is

What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? […] The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult? Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarreled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit. On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call ‘a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture’; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the ‘hermeneutic of reform’, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God. The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. […] The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. (Benedict XVI. Address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2005)

  • We must see the Council in this perspective of continuity

This point is also important with regard to the Council. We need not, as I said to the Roman Curia before Christmas, live the hermeneutic of discontinuity, but rather the hermeneutic of renewal, which is the spirituality of continuity, of going ahead in continuity. […] We must accept newness but also love continuity, and we must see the Council in this perspective of continuity. (Benedict XVI. Address to the members of the Roman clergy, March 2, 2006)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

  • The teaching of the Vatican Council II should be received and applied in continuity with Tradition the Church

After the Council the Church – under the sure guidance of the Magisterium and in continuity with the whole Tradition – set about ensuring the reception and application of the teaching of the Council in all its richness. […] From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has worked decisively for a correct understanding of the Council, rejecting as erroneous the so-called ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture’ and promoting what he himself has termed “the ‘hermeneutic of reform’, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2005). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith, January 6, 2012)

  • The Second Vatican Council did not change the previously held doctrine on the Church

The question concerns the significance of what Paul VI described in the above mentioned quotation as ‘the new face’ of the Church offered by Vatican II. The response, based on the teaching of John XXIII and Paul VI, is very clear: the Second Vatican Council did not intend to change – and therefore has not changed – the previously held doctrine on the Church. It merely deepened this doctrine and articulated it in a more organic way. This is, in fact, what Paul VI said in his discourse promulgating the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium when he affirmed that the document had not changed traditional doctrine on the Church, but rather ‘that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation’ (Paul VI, Discourse, September 21, 1964). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Responses to some question regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the Church, June 29, 2007)

Benedict XVI

  • The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church

The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues ‘her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God’, proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. Lumen Gentium, no. 8). (Benedict XVI. Address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2005)


II – The Gospel is not a product of passing trends, the Church has the mission of transmitting it in its integrity and purity


Sacred Scripture

  • There is only one way of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’ mean ‘No’. Anything more is from the evil one. (Mt 5:37)

Paul VI

  • The Gospel entrusted to us is the word of truth – it should never be betrayed or hidden out of a desire to please men

The Gospel entrusted to us is also the word of truth. A truth which liberates and which alone gives peace of heart is what people are looking for when we proclaim the Good News to them. The truth about God, about man and his mysterious destiny, about the world; the difficult truth that we seek in the Word of God and of which, we repeat, we are neither the masters nor the owners, but the depositaries, the heralds and the servants. Every evangelizer is expected to have a reverence for truth, especially since the truth that he studies and communicates is none other than revealed truth and hence, more than any other, a sharing in the first truth which is God Himself. The preacher of the Gospel will therefore be a person who even at the price of personal renunciation and suffering always seeks the truth that he must transmit to others. He never betrays or hides truth out of a desire to please men, in order to astonish or to shock, nor for the sake of originality or a desire to make an impression. He does not refuse truth. He does not obscure revealed truth by being too idle to search for it, or for the sake of his own comfort, or out of fear. He does not neglect to study it. He serves it generously, without making it serve him. (Paul VI. Apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 78, December 8, 1975)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • The truth of the divine intellect – criteria for all else that is true – is altogether immutable

Truth, properly speaking, resides only in the intellect, as said before (Article [1]); but things are called true in virtue of the truth residing in an intellect. Hence the mutability of truth must be regarded from the point of view of the intellect, the truth of which consists in its conformity to the thing understood. Now this conformity may vary in two ways, even as any other likeness, through change in one of the two extremes. Hence in one way truth varies on the part of the intellect, from the fact that a change of opinion occurs about a thing which in itself has not changed, and in another way, when the thing is changed, but not the opinion; and in either way there can be a change from true to false. If, then, there is an intellect wherein there can be no alternation of opinions, and the knowledge of which nothing can escape, in this is immutable truth. […] Whereas the truth of the divine intellect is that according to which natural things are said to be true, and this is altogether immutable. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica I, q. 16, a. 8)

John Paul II

  • Truth is revealed, not born simply of human experience – in order to face the present challenges the Church must announce Truth, which is God Himself, in all integrity and purity

In order to face the present challenges, it is necessary that the Church appear, at all levels, as ‘pillar and foundation of the truth’ (1Tim 3:15). The service of the Truth, which is Christ, is our most important task. This Truth is revealed. It is not born simply of human experience. It is God himself who in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is revealed to man. […] Our firmness will come from this solid foundation, since the Church today, despite all of the difficulties of the circumstances, may not speak in a different manner than Christ spoke. Thus the Church, and above all its Pastors, should be united before the Absolute Truth which is God, and proclaim it in all of its integrity and purity. (John Paul II. Address to the second group of Chilean Bishops on their ad limina apostolorum visit, no. 2, November 8, 1984)

Synod of Bishops

  • The transmission of the faith must be firmly anchored in her living Tradition

The Second Vatican Council and the new evangelization are also recurring themes in the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI. In 2005, in his Christmas greetings to the members of the Roman Curia – coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council – he said, a ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture’, must be counteracted by a ‘hermeneutic of reform’, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. […] Therefore, as some responses to the Lineamenta point out, the previously mentioned words of Pope Benedict XVI, in keeping with his predecessors, can serve as a reliable guide in addressing the subject of the transmission of the faith in the new evangelization, in a Church cognisant of the challenges of today’s world, but firmly anchored in her living Tradition, of which the Second Vatican Council is a part. (Synod of Bishops. XIII Ordinary general assembly, The new evangelization, the transmission of the Christian Faith, Instrumentum Laboris, no. 14, June 19, 2012)

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon

  • The Apostles did not evangelize in accordance with their opinion but according to revealed truth

For the apostles, who were commissioned to find out the wanderers, and to be for sight to those who saw not, and medicine to the weak, certainly did not address them in accordance with their opinion at the time, but according to revealed truth. (Saint Irenaeus of Lyons. Against heresies, III, 5, 2)

Benedict XVI

  • Proclaim the Gospel without fear or reticence, never yielding to the conditioning of the world

The truth about Gospel love concerns every person and the whole person, and involves the Pastor in proclaiming it without fear or reticence, and never yielding to the conditioning of the world in season and out of season (cf. 2Tim 4:2). Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, in a time such as our own, marked by the growing phenomenon of globalization, it is ever more necessary to make the truth about Christ and his Gospel of salvation reach everyone. (Benedict XVI. Address to the members of the 11th Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, June 1, 2006)

Leo XIII

  • The false idea that the Church should shape her teachings in accordance with the spirit of the age

The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. […] It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Testem benevolentiae, January 22, 1899)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

  • The Church is bound by a radical faithfulness to the Word of God; not by the principles of the social order of any historical period

Concretely, one must never lose sight of the fact that the Church does not find the source of her faith and her constitutive structure in the principles of the social order of any historical period. While attentive to the world in which she lives and for whose salvation she labours, the Church is conscious of being the bearer of a higher fidelity to which she is bound. It is a question of a radical faithfulness to the Word of God which she has received from Christ who established her to last until the end of the ages. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. On the teaching contained in the Apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, October 28, 1995)


III – The sacred walls of the Church: a privilege for some that must be destroyed or a protection for virtue to be loved?


Sacred Scripture

  • Celestial Jerusalem, prototype of the Church, has a massive wall: nothing unclean will enter it, only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life

One of the seven angels who held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, (the names) of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. […] but nothing unclean will enter it, nor any (one) who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev 21:9 – 14, 27)

  • Outside of the Holy city are the unchaste and all who practice deceit

Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates. Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the unchaste, the murderers, the idol-worshipers, and all who love and practice deceit. I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. (Rev 22:12 – 16)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • Of the house of God: He is Himself the wall; blessed are those who dwell therein

If you have your own house, you are poor; if God’s, you are rich. In your own house you will fear robbers; of the house of God, He is Himself the wall. Therefore ‘blessed are those who dwell in Your house.’ (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Expositions on the Psalms, Psalm 84, no. 8)

  • Without walls the flock will be exposed to many dangers

Separate, then, from the healthy body, the malignant tumor, and dispelling the contagion of the virulent plague, maintain with greater care the healthy parts and purify the flock from this contagion of the bad sheep. […] Otherwise, wandering afar, and deprived of the walls and defenses of the faith, they will be exposed to all dangers, condemned to being torn and devoured by the teeth of the wolves; they will not be able to resist this perverse doctrine with which they were disturbed. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Letter 181, no. 9)

Pius IX

  • It is the mission of the Bishop to defend the flock from the snares of the enemy

We are fully confident that you, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, strengthened by the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, will continue steadfast in your outstanding Episcopal zeal. With one mind and heart and with redoubled dedication, may you persist in defending the House of Israel, may you fight the good fight for the faith and defend from the snares of the enemy the faithful entrusted to your care. Admonish and exhort them to be strong in our sacred faith, without which it is impossible to please God. Urge them to persevere firmly established in our divine religion, which alone is true and eternal and prepares for salvation and even, to a very great extent, preserves and prospers civil society. (Pius IX. Encyclical Quanto conficiamur moerore, no. 13, August 10, 1863)

  • We live in a corrupt and pestilent atmosphere and must preserve ourselves to not be contaminated by false doctrines

In these times of confusion and disorder, it is not unusual to see Christians, Catholicseven within the secular clergy and cloisters – who constantly have a word of conformity, of conciliation and negotiation on their lips. Very well! I do not hesitate to declare: these men are in error, and do not consider them to be the lesser enemies of the Church. We live in a corrupt and pestilent atmosphere and we must know how to preserve ourselves from it. Let us not allow ourselves to be contaminated by false doctrines, which lose all things under the pretext of saving all. (Pius IX. Speech in the Church of Aracoeli, September 17, 1861)

John Paul II

  • By the prophetic action of the Holy Spirit, the Church must protect the people from the influence of false prophets

The task of the prophet, as a man of the word of God, is to combat the ‘lying spirit’ that is found in the mouth of the false prophets (cf. 1Kings 22:23) in order to protect the people from their influence. It is a mission received from God […] The prophetic action of the Holy Spirit has been continually manifested in the Church to give it light and encouragement. (John Paul II. General Audience, no. 4.6, February 14, 1990)

Saint John Chrysostom

  • The prelates who bring wicked men into the churches collaborate with the devil

It is no small danger, which He hereby suspends over our rulers, to whom especially is entrusted the keeping of the field […] Many of the prelates, I mean, bringing into the churches wicked men, disguised heresiarchs, gave great facility to the laying that kind of snare. For the devil needs not even to take any trouble, when he has once planted them among us. […] For, ‘When the blade was sprung up,’ says He, ‘and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also;’ which kind of thing these men also do. For at the beginning they disguise themselves; but when they have gained much confidence, and someone imparts to them the teaching of the word, then they pour out their poison. (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily 46 on the Gospel of Saint Matthew)

Origen

  • The enemies of truth wish to destroy the walls of the Gospel

When the Holy of Holies was in building – that is, when the faith of Christ and the mysteries of his saints were in the process of establishment, the enemies of truth and the opponents of the faith, who are the wise of this world, seeing the walls of the Gospel rising without literary art or philosophical skill, say scornfully that these things can easily be destroyed by the cunning of words, through crafty falsehoods and the arguments of dialectic. (Origen. Commentary on the Song of Songs, Book IV)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • Anyone who clashes against this impregnable wall of the Church’s power will be wiped out

This is in lieu of the power of the authority of mother Church; this is conceded by the canon of well-founded truth: anyone who clashes against this force, against this impregnable wall is wiped out by it. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Sermon 294, no. 17)


IV – By the promise of Jesus Christ and the assistance of the Holy Spirit the Church is holy. She has always been a citadel of mercy for repentant sinners, but also an invincible fortress against any compromise with sin


Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • The Church is sanctified and sanctifying

United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes sanctifying. ‘All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God’ (SC 10). (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 824)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

  • The Church is brought to perfection by the gift of the Holy Spirit

The Church, whose mystery is being set forth by this Sacred Synod, is believed to be indefectibly holy. Indeed Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is praised as ‘uniquely holy,’ loved the Church as His bride, delivering Himself up for her. He did this that He might sanctify her. He united her to Himself as His own body and brought it to perfection by the gift of the Holy Spirit for God’s glory. (Vatican Council II. Pastoral constitution Lumen gentium, no. 39, November 21, 1964)

Gregory XVI

  • It is injurious to consider the Church as subject to defect, ignorance or other misfortune

To use the words of the fathers of Trent, it is certain that the Church ‘was instructed by Jesus Christ and His Apostles and that all truth was daily taught it by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.’ Therefore, it is obviously absurd and injurious to propose a certain ‘restoration and regeneration’ for her as though necessary for her safety and growth, as if she could be considered subject to defect or obscuration or other misfortune. Indeed these authors of novelties consider that a ‘foundation may be laid of a new human institution,’ and what Cyprian detested may come to pass, that what was a divine thing ‘may become a human church’ (Saint Cyprian, epistle 52). (Gregory XVI. Encyclical Mirari vos, no. 6, August 15, 1832)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • The Church cannot err – such that she might require changing course

The universal Church cannot err, since she is governed by the Holy Ghost, Who is the Spirit of truth: for such was Our Lord’s promise to His disciples (Jn 16:13): ‘When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth’. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, II-II, q.1, q.9)

Benedict XVI

  • The Church of love is also the Church of truth and fidelity to the Gospel

The Church of love is also the Church of truth, understood primarily as fidelity to the Gospel entrusted by the Lord Jesus to his followers. It was being made children of the same Father by the Spirit of truth that gave rise to Christian brotherhood: ‘For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God’ (Rom 8:14). However, if the family of God’s children is to live in unity and peace, it needs someone to keep it in the truth and guide it with wise and authoritative discernment: this is what the ministry of the Apostles is required to do. (Benedict XVI. General audience, April 5, 2006)

John Paul II

  • The Gospel of meekness and humility is the same Gospel of exigent morality and even of severe threats

In this way, the Gospel of meekness and humility is in cadence with the Gospel of exigent morality and even of severe threats to those who do not wish to convert. There is no contradiction between one and the other. Jesus lives from the truth he announces and from the love that he reveals, and this love is demanding just as is the truth from which it is derived. (John Paul II. General audience, no. 8, June 8, 1988)

  • ‘Meekness and humility of heart’ does not mean weakness in face of evil; Jesus came bringing the sword

Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves’ (Mt 11: 29). But that ‘meekness and humility of heart’ in no way implies weakness. On the contrary, Jesus is demanding. His Gospel is demanding. […] It is a kind of radicalism not only in the evangelical language, but also in the real demands of the following of Christ, which he does not hesitate to reaffirm frequently in all of their amplitude: ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword’ (Mt 10:34). It is a strong way of expressing that the Gospel is also a source of ‘unrest’ for man. Jesus wishes to make us understand that the Gospel is demanding and ‘demanding’ means to rouse consciences, not permitting them to rest in a false ‘peace’. (John Paul II. General audience, no. 8, June 8, 1988)

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon

  • It is to repentance that the Lord came to call sinners. Who would advise blind men, just about to fall over a precipice, to continue as if it were on the right path?

For no persons of any kind would act properly, if they should advise blind men, just about to fall over a precipice, to continue their most dangerous path, as if it were the right one, and as if they might go on in safety. Or what medical man, anxious to heal a sick person, would prescribe in accordance with the patient’s whims, and not according to the requisite medicine? But that the Lord came as the physician of the sick, He does Himself declare saying, ‘They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Lk 5:31-32). How then shall the sick be strengthened, or how shall sinners come to repentance? Is it by persevering in the very same courses? Or, on the contrary, is it by undergoing a great change and reversal of their former mode of living, by which they have brought upon themselves no slight amount of sickness, and many sins? (Saint Irenaeus of Lyons. Against Heresies, III, 5, 2)

Pius X

  • Whilst Jesus was kind to sinners he did not respect their false ideas – mercy does not mean an accord with sin

As soon as the social question is being approached, it is the fashion in some quarters to first put aside the divinity of Jesus Christ, and then to mention only His unlimited clemency, His compassion for all human miseries, and His pressing exhortations to the love of our neighbor and to the brotherhood of men. True, Jesus has loved us with an immense, infinite love, and He came on earth to suffer and die so that, gathered around Him in justice and love, motivated by the same sentiments of mutual charity, all men might live in peace and happiness. But for the realization of this temporal and eternal happiness, He has laid down with supreme authority the condition that we must belong to His Flock, that we must accept His doctrine, that we must practice virtue, and that we must accept the teaching and guidance of Peter and his successors. Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them. […] Whilst His heart overflowed with gentleness for the souls of good-will, He could also arm Himself with holy indignation against the profaners of the House of God, against the wretched men who scandalized the little ones, against the authorities who crush the people with the weight of heavy burdens without putting out a hand to lift them. He was as strong as he was gentle. He reproved, threatened, chastised, knowing, and teaching us that fear is the beginning of wisdom, and that it is sometimes proper for a man to cut off an offending limb to save his body. (Pius X. Encyclical Notre charge apostolique, no. 38, August 23, 1910)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • Charity to one’s neighbor is shown in correction

If any of you perchance wish to keep charity, brethren, above all things do not imagine it to be an abject and neither sluggish thing; nor that charity is to be preserved by a sort of gentleness, nay not gentleness, but tameness and listlessness. Not so is it preserved. Do not imagine that you then love your servant when you do not beat him, or that you then love your son when you give him not discipline or that you then love your neighbor when you dost not rebuke him: this is not charity, but mere feebleness. Let charity be fervent to correct, to amend: but if there be good manners, let them delight you; if bad, let them be amended, let them be corrected. Love not in the man his error, but the man: for the man God made, the error the man himself made. Love that which God made, love not that which the man himself made. When you love that, you take away this: when you esteem that, you amend this. But even if you be severe at any time, let it be because of love, for correction. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Homily 7 on the first letter of Saint John)

Pius XII

  • The Church is the rock of truth when even at the cost of torments or martyrdom, it has to say: ‘Non licet; it is not allowed!’

Taught precisely by the sad failure of human expedients to stave off the tempest that threatens to sweep civilization away, many turn their gaze with renewed hope to the Church, the rock of truth and of charity, to that Chair of Peter from which, they feel, can be restored to mankind that unity of religious teaching and of the moral code which of old gave consistency to pacific international relations. […] These last are recognizing in the Catholic Church principles of belief and life that have stood the test of 2,000 years; the strong cohesion of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, which in union with the Successor of Peter spends itself in enlightening minds with the teaching of the Gospel, in guiding and sanctifying men, and which is generous in its material condescension towards all, but firm when, even at the cost of torments or martyrdom, it has to say: ‘Non licet; it is not allowed!’ (Pius XII. Encyclical Summi pontificatus, no. 97 – 99, October 20, 1939)


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A good pastor is one who does not condemn errors

2 thoughts on “The Council Fathers strongly perceived a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way

  1. It makes me wonder what the False Prophet or the Antichrist would be like. To put the church upside down on his head, or to under the pretext of being faithful to Church teaching water it down. Sneak in error after error and mingle it with truth, being a great humanitarian and proclaiming mercy for all, thus deceiving even the elect?

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