89 – When the Church becomes closed, she becomes an ailing Church, she falls ill! The Church must step outside herself. To the outskirts of existence, whatever they may be

‘Charity begins at home’. This popular expression clearly transmits the attitude that an apostle of the Gospel should have. In fact, no one can give to others what he himself doesn’t possess. So, in the first place, a missionary should fill his own soul with grace in order to transmit the light of Christ and the perfume of the Christian virtues in an effective manner. Yes, to evangelize, we can’t mix the crystalline waters of sanctity with the filth of sin. In other words, we should avidly seek the salvation of others, but in no way adjust our souls to the evil influences of the world under the pretext of the apostolate, putting our eternal salvation in grave risk. What use are works and more works if the one who performs them ends up being condemned for having adopted an imprudent apostolic strategy? The Church puts the eternal salvation of her children above all else; that’s why it has always shown vigilance in indicating authentic paths for evangelization.

Francis

Please do not withdraw into yourselves! This is a danger: we shut ourselves up in the parish, with our friends, within the movement, with the like-minded… but do you know what happens? When the Church becomes closed, she becomes an ailing Church, she falls ill! That is a danger. Nevertheless we lock ourselves up in our parish, among our friends, in our movement, with people who think as we do… but do you know what happens? When the Church is closed, she falls sick, she falls sick. Think of a room that has been closed for a year. When you go into it there is a smell of damp, many things are wrong with it. A Church closed in on herself is the same, a sick Church. The Church must step outside herself. To go where? To the outskirts of existence, whatever they may be, but she must step out. Jesus tells us: ‘Go into all the world! Go! Preach! Bear witness to the Gospel!’ (cf. Mk 16:15). But what happens if we step outside ourselves? The same as can happen to anyone who comes out of the house and onto the street: an accident. But I tell you, I far prefer a Church that has had a few accidents to a Church that has fallen sick from being closed. (Address, Vigil of Pentecost with Ecclesial Movements, May 18, 2013)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of Contents

I – A Church closed in on itself – or well safeguarded from corruption?
II – The efficacy of the action of ecclesial movements stems from the exemplary life they manifest
III –
Pastors of the Church should indicate safe paths for their sheep
IV – Can the Holy Church be mistaken?


I – A Church closed in on itself – or well safeguarded from corruption?


Sacred Scripture
-What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

Saint John Chrysostom
-While taking thought about the things of others, do not neglect yourself

Benedict XVI
-You cannot be a good servant to others if you neglect your soul

John Paul II
-How can they preach the Gospel if they do not have a true understanding of the faith?

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– The necessity to avoid the society of sinners as regards fellowship in sin

Saint John Chrysostom
-Do not open the doors to corrupt men

Pseudo-Chrysostom
– God does not give spiritual graces equally to the worthy and the unworthy

Pius IX
– Beware of those who, in clothing of sheep, deprave the minds of the imprudent and distance men from religion

Saint Cyprian of Carthage
– By heresy, the unrighteous are distinguished from the righteous as the chaff from the wheat

Saint John Chrysostom
-The devil need not take any trouble when he has planted wicked men among us

Pius IX
-Enemies of all truth strive both openly and deceitfully with plots to shake the Catholic religion


II- The efficacy of the action of ecclesial movements stems from the exemplary life they manifest


 

John Paul II
-An urgent need for powerful proclamation of the Gospel and solid Christian formation
-Any life planning that is not in accordance with the design of God for man is destined to failure

Benedict XVI
-Missionary zeal is proof of a radical experience of ever renewed fidelity

Benedict XV
– Apostolic success ensues from the measure that one binds himself more closely to God
-You have been called to carry light to men who lie in the shadow of death


III – Pastors of the Church should indicate safe paths for their sheep


 

Sacred Scripture
-The Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers to tend the church of God

John Paul II
-The mission of teaching proper to Bishops: courageously proclaiming the faith

Pius XII
– The Church cannot disregard precautions with what is contrary to sound morals and can result in serious danger to souls

Leo XIII
-The Church should not shape her teachings in accord with the spirit of the age

Congregation for Bishops
-The Bishop should model his style of governance on divine wisdom

John Paul II
-The ‘nets’ we are called upon to cast among men are the Sacraments
– Teaching and example of an authentic life of faith are inseparable
-The primacy of grace is the essential principle for any pastoral ministry

Benedict XVI
-A Pastor supervises not as a bureaucrat but as one who sees from God’s viewpoint
-Pastors must make themselves examples to the flock, knowing how to resist enemies

Vatican Council II
– Bishops should sanctify the churches entrusted to them by an example of holiness


IV – Can the Holy Church be mistaken?


 

Saint Francis de Sales
-The Church is unmovable, unshaken, steadfast and perpetual
-To say that the Church errs is to say that God errs

Gregory XVI
-It is injurious to propose the Church as subject to defect or obscuration

Vatican Council II
– The people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men, but truly the word of God

Pius IX
-Fearlessly defend the cause of God and His holy Church never tolerating anything which could defile the purity of this faith



I – A Church closed in on itself – or well safeguarded from corruption?


Sacred Scripture

  • What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. (Mk 8: 36-38)

Saint John Chrysostom

  • While taking care about the things of others, do not neglect yourself

What? hast thou another soul to give for this soul? […] put also the whole world, yet what profit hath he thereby, if the soul perish? […] yea, though thou hadst the world, though thou wast king of the whole earth, thou wouldest not be able, by paying down all earthly goods, with the earth itself, to redeem but one soul. […] Now thus I bid thee reason with regard to thy soul also; or rather even much more with regard to the soul; and do thou, forsaking all besides, spend all thy care upon it. Do not then while taking thought about the things of others, neglect thyself and thine own things; which now all men do, resembling them that work in the mines. For neither do these receive any profit from this labor, nor from the wealth; but rather great harm, both because they incur fruitless peril, and incur it for other men, reaping no benefit from such their toils and deaths. These even now are objects of imitation to many, who are digging up wealth for others; or rather we are more wretched even than this, inasmuch as hell itself awaits us after these our labors. For they indeed are staid from those toils by death, but to us death proves a beginning of innumerable evils. […] For of all things in us the soul is chief. […] but Christ will say unto thee again, ‘What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ on every hand commanding thee to be busied about that, and to take account of it only. (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily 55 on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, no.4-5)

Benedict XVI

  • You cannot be a good servant to others if you neglect your soul

‘Take heed to yourselves’ (Acts 20:28): this too is a word to the priests of all times. A well-intentioned activism exists but in which a person forgets his own soul, his own spiritual life, his own being with Christ. In the Breviary Reading for his liturgical Memorial, St Charles Borromeo tells us every year anew: you cannot be a good servant to others if you neglect your soul. ‘Watch over yourselves.’ Let us also be attentive to our spiritual life, to our being with Christ. As I have often said, prayer and meditation on the Word of God is not time wasted for the care of souls, but is the condition for us to be able to be really in touch with the Lord, and thus to speak of the Lord to others from experience. ‘Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the Church of the Lord’ (Acts 20:28). (Benedict XVI. Lectio Divina, meeting with the Parish Priests of the Rome Diocese, March 10, 2011)

John Paul II

  • How can they preach the Gospel if they do not have a true understanding of the faith?

In order constantly to discover and maintain the joy of mission, it is most important that the Lord’s ministers strengthen their spiritual life, particularly through daily prayer, which is ‘the remedy of salvation’ (St. Paulinus of Nola, Letters 34, 10), and through the intimate meeting with the Lord in the Eucharist, which is the focal point of the priest’s day (cf. General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours, n. 1). In the same way, regular reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation, which re- establishes the sinner in grace and restores friendship with God, helps the priest in turn to bring forgiveness to his brothers and sisters. These are a source of indispensable nourishment for Christ’s disciples, and even more for those who are responsible for leading and sanctifying the Christian people. I would also like to insist on the need to celebrate worthily the Liturgy of the Hours, which helps to enrich the People of God with a mysterious apostolic fruitfulness (cf. General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, n. 18), and on time for daily prayer: in this way the priest revives the gift of God within him, prepares for his mission, strengthens his priestly identity and builds up the Church. Indeed, it is before God that the priest becomes aware of the call he has received and renews his availability for the particular mission entrusted to him by the Bishop in the Lord’s name, thereby showing that he is available for the work of the Holy Spirit, who gives growth to every action (cf. 1 Cor 3:7). Priests are called to be joyful witnesses to Christ through their teaching and the witness of an upright life corresponding to the commitment they made on the day of their ordination. They are your ‘sons and friends’ (Christus Dominus, n. 16; cf. Jn 15:15). You must remain attentive to their spiritual and intellectual needs, reminding them that, although they live among men and take modern life into account, like all the faithful they must not model themselves on today’s world, but must conform their lives to the Word they proclaim and the sacraments they celebrate (cf. Rom 12:2; Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 3); thus they will express ‘the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church’ (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 2). Encourage them to pray personally and to support one another in this regard. Also, invite them constantly to deepen their knowledge of theology, which is necessary to spiritual and pastoral life. In fact, how can they preach the Gospel and be ‘dispensers of a life other than that of this earth’ (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 3), if they do not remain close to the heart of Christ like the Apostle he loved, and if they do not apply themselves through continuing formation to a true understanding of the faith? (John Paul II. Address to the Bishops of the Netherlands on the occasion of their ad limina visit, no. 2, June 18, 1998)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • The necessity to avoid the society of sinners as regards fellowship in sin

Wherefore, in respect of their guilt whereby they are opposed to God, all sinners are to be hated, even one’s father or mother or kindred, according to Luke 12:26. […] As the Philosopher observes (Ethic. ix, 3), when our friends fall into sin, we ought not to deny them the amenities of friendship, so long as there is hope of their mending their ways, and we ought to help them more readily to regain virtue than to recover money, had they lost it, for as much as virtue is more akin than money to friendship. When, however, they fall into very great wickedness, and become incurable, we ought no longer to show them friendliness. It is for this reason that both Divine and human laws command such like sinners to be put to death, because there is greater likelihood of their harming others than of their mending their ways. Nevertheless the judge puts this into effect, not out of hatred for the sinners, but out of the love of charity, by reason of which he prefers the public good to the life of the individual. Moreover the death inflicted by the judge profits the sinner, if he be converted, unto the expiation of his crime; and, if he be not converted, it profits so as to put an end to the sin, because the sinner is thus deprived of the power to sin any more. […] We love sinners out of charity, not so as to will what they will, or to rejoice in what gives them joy, but so as to make them will what we will, and rejoice in what rejoices us. Hence it is written (Jer 15:19): ‘They shall be turned to thee, and thou shalt not to be turned to them.’ The weak should avoid associating with sinners, on account of the danger in which they stand of being perverted by them. But it is commendable for the perfect, of whose perversion there is no fear, to associate with sinners that they may convert them. For thus did Our Lord eat and drink with sinners as related by Matthew 9:11-13. Yet all should avoid the society of sinners, as regards fellowship in sin; in this sense it is written (2 Cor 6:17): ‘Go out from among them and touch not the unclean thing,’ i.e. by consenting to sin. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 25, a. 6)

Saint John Chrysostom

  • Do not open the doors to corrupt men

And by ‘dogs’ here He figuratively described them that are living in incurable ungodliness, and affording no hope of change for the better; and by ‘swine,’ them that abide continually in an unchaste life, all of whom He hath pronounced unworthy of hearing such things. Paul also, it may be observed, declared this when He said, ‘But a natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness unto him.’ And in many other places too He saith that corruption of life is the cause of men’s not receiving the more perfect doctrines. Wherefore He commands not to open the doors to them; for indeed they become more insolent after learning. (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily 23 on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew)

Pseudo-Chrysostom

  • God does not give spiritual graces equally to the worthy and the unworthy

The Lord had commanded us to love our enemies, and to do good to those that sin against us. That from this Priests might not think themselves obliged to communicate also the things of God to such, He checked any such thought saying, ‘Give not that which is holy to the dogs;’ as much as to say, I have bid you love your enemies, and do them good out of your temporal goods, but not out of My spiritual goods, without distinction. For they are your brethren by nature but not by faith, and God gives the good things of this life equally to the worthy and the unworthy, but not so spiritual graces. (Pseudo-Chrysostom cited by Saint Thomas Aquino. Catena Aurea, Mt 7:6)

Pius IX

  • Beware of those who, in clothing of sheep, deprave the minds of the imprudent and distance men from religion

To this end also tend the most dark designs of men in the clothing of sheep, while inwardly ravening wolves. They humbly recommend themselves by means of a feigned and deceitful appearance of a purer piety, a stricter virtue and discipline; after taking their captives gently, they mildly bind them, and then kill them in secret. They make men fly in terror from all practice of religion, and they cut down and dismember the sheep of the Lord. […] They spread pestilential doctrines everywhere and deprave the minds especially of the imprudent, occasioning great losses for religion. (Pius IX. Encyclical Qui pluribus, no. 17, November 9, 1846)

Saint Cyprian of Carthage

  • By heresy, the unrighteous are distinguished from the righteous as the chaff from the wheat

It is needful also that there should be heresies, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you’ (1Cor 11:19). Thus the faithful are approved, thus the perfidious are detected; thus even here, before the day of judgment, the souls of the righteous and of the unrighteous are already divided, and the chaff is separated from the wheat. These are they who of their own accord, without any divine arrangement, set themselves to preside among the daring strangers assembled, who appoint themselves prelates without any law of ordination […] whom the Holy Spirit points out in the Psalms as sitting in the seat of pestilence, plagues, and spots of the faith, deceiving with serpent’s tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues; whose speech doth creep like a cancer, whose discourse forms a deadly poison in the heart and breast of every one. (Saint Cyprian of Carthage. De unitate Eclesiae, no. 10, ML 4: 507)

Saint John Chrysostom

  • The devil need not take any trouble when he has planted wicked men among us

It is no small danger, which He hereby suspends over our rulers, to whom especially is entrusted the keeping of the field; […] And He signifies also that the error comes after the truth, which the actual event testifies. For so after the prophets, were the false prophets; and after the apostles, the false apostles; and after Christ, Antichrist For unless the devil see what to imitate, or against whom to plot, he neither attempts, nor knows how. Now then also, having seen that ‘one brought forth a hundred, another sixty, another thirty,’ he proceeds after that another way. That is, not having been able to carry away what had taken root, nor to choke, nor to scorch it up, he conspires against it by another craft, privily casting in his own inventions. […] 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 hath once planted them among us. […] As the heretics 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 according to Saint Matthew)

Pius IX

  • Enemies of all truth strive both openly and deceitfully with plots to shake the Catholic religion

You know as We do, venerable brothers, the recent wrongdoing which has strengthened some wretched enemies of all truth, justice and honor, who strive both openly and deceitfully with plots of every sort to spread their disorders everywhere among the faithful people of Italy. These disorders include the unbridled license of thinking, speaking and hearing every impious matter. They spread these like the foaming waves of a savage sea, and they exert themselves not only to shake the Catholic religion in Italy itself, but if possible to utterly destroy it. (Pius IX. Encyclical Nostis et nobiscum, no. 1, December 8, 1849)


II – The efficacy of the action of ecclesial movements stems from the exemplary life they manifest


 

John Paul II

  • An urgent need for powerful proclamation of the Gospel and solid Christian formation

In our world, often dominated by a secularized culture which encourages and promotes models of life without God, the faith of many is sorely tested, and is frequently stifled and dies. Thus we see an urgent need for powerful proclamation and solid, in-depth Christian formation. There is so much need today for mature Christian personalities, conscious of their baptismal identity, of their vocation and mission in the Church and in the world! There is great need for living Christian communities! And here are the movements and the new ecclesial communities: they are the response, given by the Holy Spirit, to this critical challenge at the end of the millennium. You are this providential response. […] You have learned in the movements and new communities that faith is not abstract talk, nor vague religious sentiment, but new life in Christ instilled by the Holy Spirit. (John Paul II. Address during the meeting with Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, no. 7, May 30, 1998)

  • Any life planning that is not in accordance with the design of God for man is destined to failure

Never forget that any life planning that is not in accordance with the design of God for man, is destined – sooner or later – to failure. In effect, it is only in God and with God that man can entirely fulfill himself and reach the plenitude of that which he aspires to in his inmost heart. […] It is decisive to choose true, not transitory values; the authentic truth, and not half truths or pseudo-truths. (John Paul II. Address during the Encounter with Catechists and Ecclesial Movements, October 4, no. 6, 1998)

Benedict XVI

  • Missionary zeal is proof of a radical experience of ever renewed fidelity

I therefore say to you, dear friends of the Movements: act so as to ensure that they are always schools of communion, groups journeying on in which one learns to live in the truth and love that Christ revealed and communicated to us through the witness of the Apostles, in the heart of the great family of his disciples. May Jesus’ exhortation ceaselessly re-echo in your hearts: ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven’ (Mt 5: 16). Bring Christ’s light to all the social and cultural milieus in which you live. Missionary zeal is proof of a radical experience of ever renewed fidelity to one’s charism that surpasses any kind of weary or selfish withdrawal. Dispel the darkness of a world overwhelmed by the contradictory messages of ideologies! There is no valid beauty if there is not a truth to recognize and follow, if love gives way to transitory sentiment, if happiness becomes an elusive mirage or if freedom degenerates into instinct. (Benedict XVI. Message to the participants of the Second World Congress on Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, May 22, 2006)

Benedict XV

  • Apostolic success ensues from the measure that one binds himself more closely to God

But for the man who enters upon the apostolic life there is one attribute that is indispensable. It is of the most critical importance, as We have mentioned before, that he have sanctity of life. For the man who preaches God must himself be a man of God. The man who urges others to despise sin must despise it himself. Preaching by example is afar more effective procedure than vocal preaching, especially among unbelievers, who tend to be more impressed by what they see for themselves than by any arguments that can be presented to them. Give the missionary, if you will, every imaginable talent of mind and intellect, endow him with the most extensive learning and the most brilliant culture. Unless these qualities are accompanied by moral integrity they will be of little or no value in the apostolate, On the contrary, they can be the cause of disaster, both to himself and to others. Let us have him, then, an example to those he deals with. Let him be humble and obedient and chaste. And especially let him be a devout man, dedicated to prayer and constant union with God, a man who goes before the Divine Majesty and fervently pleads the cause of souls. For as he binds himself more and more closely to God, he will receive the grace and assistance of God to a greater and greater degree. […] With these virtues the missionary will open for the Faith he preaches a smooth and unobstructed entrance into the hearts of men. All obstacles will melt from his path, for no man’s will is obdurate enough to oppose their attraction with equanimity. (Benedict XV. Apostolic Letter Maximum illud, no. 26-27, November 30, 1919)

  • You have been called to carry light to men who lie in the shadow of death

Now We turn to you, beloved sons, the working-men of the Lord’s vineyard. In your hands lies the immediate responsibility for disseminating the wisdom of Christ, and with this responsibility the salvation of innumerable souls. Our first admonition is this: never for a moment forget the lofty and splendid character of the task to which you have devoted yourselves. Your task is a divine one, a task far beyond the feeble reach of human reasoning. You have been called to carry light to men who lie in the shadow of death and to open the way to heaven for souls that are hurtling to destruction. (Benedict XV. Apostolic Letter Maximum illud, no. 18, November 30, 1919)


III – Pastors of the Church should indicate secure paths for their flock


Sacred Scripture

  • The Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers to tend the church of God

Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

John Paul II

  • The mission of teaching proper to Bishops: courageously proclaiming the faith

The Second Vatican Council, advancing along the path indicated by the Church’s tradition, explains that the mission of teaching proper to Bishops consists in reverently safeguarding and courageously proclaiming the faith. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Pastores gregis, no. 28, October 16, 2003)

Pius XII

  • The Church cannot disregard precautions with what is contrary to sound morals and can result in serious danger to souls

But since the Church is the teacher of the doctrine which leads to salvation, and has all that is necessary for the attainment of holiness, She is exercising an inviolable right when She teaches what has been committed to Her by divine command. […] In like manner, approval cannot be given to the false principles of those who assert and claim freedom to depict and propagate anything at all, even though there has been established beyond dispute in these past years both the kind and the extent of the damage to both bodies and souls which has had its source in these principles. There is no question here of the true liberty of which We have spoken above, but rather of an uncontrolled freedom, which disregards all precautions, of communicating with others anything at all, even though it be contrary to sound morals and can result in serious danger to souls. The Church encourages and supports everything which truly concerns a fuller enrichment of the mind – for She is the patron and foster mother of human knowledge and the noble arts; therefore She cannot permit the violation of those principles and laws which direct and govern man in his path to God, his final end. Let no one, then, be surprised if, in this matter, where many reservations are necessary, the Church acts with due thought and discretion, according to that saying of the Apostle: ‘But prove all things: hold fast that which is good. From all appearance of evil refrain yourselves’ (1Thes 5: 21-22). (Pius XII. Encyclical Miranda prorsus, September 8, 1957)

Leo XIII

  • The Church should not shape her teachings in accord 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. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them. […] Such a policy would tend rather to separate Catholics from the Church than to bring in those who differ. There is nothing closer to our heart than to have those who are separated from the fold of Christ return to it, but in no other way than the way pointed out by Christ. […] History proves clearly that the Apostolic See, to which has been entrusted the mission not only of teaching but of governing the whole Church, has continued ‘in one and the same doctrine, one and the same sense, and one and the same judgment,’ (Const. de fide Catholica, Ch. 4) In this matter the Church must be the judge, not private men who are often deceived by the appearance of right. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Testem Benevolentiae, to James Cardinal Gibbons, January 22, 1899)

Congregation for Bishops

  • The Bishop should model his style of governance on divine wisdom

So the Bishop should model his style of governance both on divine wisdom, which teaches him to consider the eternal dimension of things, and also on evangelical prudence, which enables him to keep ever in mind, with the skill of a master builder (1 Cor 3:10), the changing needs of the Body of Christ. […] Prudence will prompt him to preserve the legitimate traditions of his particular Church, but it will also make him keen to encourage due progress, zealous in his search for new initiatives, while always safeguarding the unity that is needed. (Congregation for Bishops. Apostolorum successores: Directory for the pastoral ministry of Bishops, ch. II, no. 41, February 22, 2004)

John Paul II

  • The ‘nets’ we are called upon to cast among men are the Sacraments

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate! Christ repeats to us today: ‘Duc in altum – Put out into the deep!’ (Lk 5,4). Following His invitation, we may reread the triple munus entrusted to us in the Church: munus docendi, sanctificandi et regendi (the ministry of teaching, sanctifying and governing. Duc in docendo! (Lead in teaching). With the Apostle we will say: ‘Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort – be unfailing in patience and in teaching’ (2 Tim 4:2). Duc in sanctificando! (Lead in sanctifying). The ‘nets’ we are called upon to cast among men are, first of all, the Sacraments, of which we are the principal dispensers, governors, guardians and promoters. (John Paul II. Homily at the inauguration of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, no. 6, September 30, 2001)

  • Teaching and example of an authentic life of faith are inseparable

No full treatment of the ministry of the Bishop, as the preacher of the Gospel and guardian of the faith among the People of God, can fail to mention the duty of personal integrity: the Bishop’s teaching is prolonged in his witness and his example of an authentic life of faith. He teaches with an authority exercised in the name of Jesus Christ 125 the word which is heard in the community; were he not to live what he teaches, he would be giving the community a contradictory message. […] The witness of his life becomes for a Bishop a new basis for authority alongside the objective basis received in episcopal consecration. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Pastores gregis, no. 31, October 16, 2003)

  • The primacy of grace is the essential principle for any pastoral ministry

The Bishop must be the first to show by the example of his own life the need to re-establish the primacy of ‘being’ over ‘doing’ and, more importantly, the primacy of grace, which, in the Christian vision of life, remains the essential principle for any ‘planning’ of pastoral ministry. A Bishop can be considered a genuine minister of communion and hope for God’s holy people only when he walks in the presence of the Lord. It is not possible to be a servant of others unless one is first a ‘servant of God’. And one can only be a servant of God if one is a ‘man of God’. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Pastores gregis, nos. 12-13, October 16, 2003)

Benedict XVI

  • A Pastor supervises not as a bureaucrat but as one who sees from God’s viewpoint

Perhaps these are the two central concepts for this office of ‘shepherd’: to nourish by making the Word of God known, not only with words but by testifying to it for God’s will and to protect it with prayer, with the full commitment of one’s life. Pastors, the other meaning which the Fathers saw in the Christian word ‘episkopoi’ is: someone who supervises not as a bureaucrat but as one who sees from God’s viewpoint, who walks towards the heights of God and in the light of God sees this small community of the Church. This is also important for a pastor of the Church, for a priest, an ‘episkopos’ who sees from the viewpoint of God, who tries to see from on high with God’s criterion, not according to his own preferences, but rather as God judges; to see from God’s heights and thus loving with God and through God. (Benedict XVI. Lectio Divina, meeting with the parish priests of the Rome Diocese, March 10, 2011)

  • Pastors must make themselves examples to the flock, knowing how to resist enemies

It is the shepherd’s task to feed and tend his flock and take it to the right pastures. Grazing the flock means taking care that the sheep find the right nourishment, that their hunger is satisfied and their thirst quenched. The metaphor apart, this means: the word of God is the nourishment that the human being needs. Making God’s word ever present and new and thereby giving nourishment to people is the task of the righteous Pastor. And he must also know how to resist the enemies, the wolves. He must go first, point out the way, preserve the unity of the flock. Peter, in his discourse to priests, highlights another very important thing. It is not enough to speak. Pastors must make themselves ‘examples to the flock’ (5: 3). When it is lived, the word of God is brought from the past into the present. It is marvellous to see how in saints the word of God becomes a word addressed to our time. […] This is what being a Pastor means a model for the flock: living the word now, in the great community of holy Church. (Benedict XVI. Homily, June 29, 2009)

Vatican Council II

  • Bishops should sanctify the churches entrusted to them by an example of holiness

They [Bishops] should also be mindful of their obligation to give an example of holiness in charity, humility, and simplicity of life. Let them so hallow the churches entrusted to them that the feeling of the universal Church of Christ may shine forth fully in them. […] Those associations should also be promoted and supported which either directly or indirectly pursue a supernatural objective, that is, either the attaining of a more perfect life, the spreading of the Gospel of Christ to all men, and the promoting of Christian doctrine. (Vatican Council II. Decree Christus Dominus, nos. 15.17, October 28, 1965)


IV – Can the Holy Church be misguided?


Saint Francis de Sales

  • The Church is unmovable, unshaken, steadfast and perpetual

It is the same as St. Paul teaches when he calls the Church the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim 3:15). Is not this to say that truth is solidly upheld in the Church? Elsewhere truth is only maintained at intervals, it falls often, but in the Church it is without vicissitude, unmovable, unshaken, in a word steadfast and perpetual. (Saint Francis de Sales. The Catholic Controversy, Part I, Mission, ch. 12, p. 71)

  • To say that the Church errs is to say that God errs

Ah! Who will give me to know the good among so many bad? Who will tell me the real verity through so many specious and masked vanities. Everybody would embark on the ship of the Holy Spirit ; there is but one, and only that one shall reach the port, all the rest are on their way to shipwreck. Ah! What danger am I in of erring! […] But he who shall consider how perfectly authentic is the testimony which God has given of the Church, will see that to say the Church errs is to say no less than that God errs, or else that he is willing and desirous for us to err; which would be a great blasphemy. (St. Francis de Sales. The Catholic Controversy, Part I, Mission, ch. 12, p. 69-70)

Gregory XVI

  • It is injurious to propose the Church as subject to defect or obscuration

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’(Council of Trent, session 13) 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. 10, August 15, 1832)

Vatican Council II

  • The people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men, but truly the word of God

The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One (Jn 2:20, 27), cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when ‘from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful’ (cf. Tertullian, Praescr. Haer. 32) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God (1 Thes 5:12, 19-21). (Vatican Council II. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, no. 12, November 21, 1964)

Pius IX

  • Fearlessly defend the cause of God and His holy Church never tolerating anything which could defile the purity of this faith

Indeed, We especially call forth in the Lord your own illustrious piety, virtue and prudence, venerable brothers. With these and relying on heavenly aid, you may fearlessly defend the cause of God and His holy Church as befits your station and the office for which you are marked. You must fight energetically, since you know very well what great wounds the undefiled Spouse of Christ Jesus has suffered, and how vigorous is the destructive attack of Her enemies. You must also care for and defend the Catholic faith with episcopal strength and see that the flock entrusted to you stands to the end firm and unmoved in the faith. For unless one preserves the faith entire and uninjured, he will without doubt perish forever (Ex Symbolo Quicumque). So, in accordance with your pastoral care, work assiduously to protect and preserve this faith. Never cease to instruct all men in it […] to convince dissenters, […] by never tolerating and letting pass anything which could in the slightest degree defile the purity of this faith. (Pius IX. Encyclical Qui pluribus, no. 17, November 9, 1846)

2 thoughts on “89 – When the Church becomes closed, she becomes an ailing Church, she falls ill! The Church must step outside herself. To the outskirts of existence, whatever they may be

    • Pope Francis speaks so much of going to the outskirts of existence, how come he does not go out to the suffering people in Cuba? There he was buddy-buddy with the big bosses Castro.

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