Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith…

…judges Francis’ idea on ‘diversified unity’

  • The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism

The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 4, August 6, 2000)

  • For true unity: the Church must proclaim the truth and announce the necessity of conversion and adherence to the Church through Baptism

Indeed, the Church, guided by charity and respect for freedom, must be primarily committed to proclaiming to all people the truth definitively revealed by the Lord, and to announcing the necessity of conversion to Jesus Christ and of adherence to the Church through Baptism and the other sacraments, in order to participate fully in communion with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 4, August 6, 2000)

  • If dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith

If such dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith. Only in this way will it be able to lead towards the unity of all Christians in ‘one flock with one shepherd’ (Jn 10:16) and thus heal that wound which prevents the Catholic Church from fully realising her universality within history. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Commentary on the Document. Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the Church, June 29, 2007)

…judges Francis’ idea on matrimony

  • Pastors and confessors have the serious duty to admonish the divorced for openly contradicting Church teaching

Members of the faithful who live together as husband and wife with persons other than their legitimate spouses may not receive Holy Communion. Should they judge it possible to do so, pastors and confessors, given the gravity of the matter and the spiritual good of these persons as well as the common good of the Church, have the serious duty to admonish them that such a judgment of conscience openly contradicts the Church’s teaching. Pastors in their teaching must also remind the faithful entrusted to their care of this doctrine. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried members of the faithful, no. 4, September 14, 1994)

…judges Francis’ idea on union in the Catholic Church

  • Liberation in the strongest sense of the word frees us from the most radical evil: sin and the power of death

This truth which comes from God has its centre in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. From him, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life“ (Jn 14:6), the Church receives all that she has to offer to mankind. Through the mystery of the Incarnate Word and Redeemer of the world, she possesses the truth regarding the Father and his love for us, and also the truth concerning man and his freedom. Through his Cross and Resurrection, Christ has brought about our Redemption, which is liberation in the strongest sense of the word, since it has freed us from the most radical evil, namely sin and the power of death. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction Libertatis conscientia, no. 3, March 22, 1896)

  • True liberation is before all the Beatitude of the poor of heart

It is only when one begins with the task of evangelization understood in its entirety that the authentic requirements of human progress and liberation are appreciated. This liberation has as its indispensable pillars: ‘the truth about Jesus the Savior‘; ‘the truth about the Church‘; and ‘the truth about man and his dignity’. It is in light of the Beatitudes, and especially the Beatitude of the poor of heart, that the Church, which wants to be the Church of the poor throughout the world, intends to come to the aid of the noble struggle for truth and justice. She addresses each person, and for that reason, every person. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction on certain aspects of the “Theology of Liberation”, XI, no. 5, August 6, 1984)

…judges Francis’ idea on the role of the Church

  • The urgency of the problems cannot make us lose sight of what is essential: evangelization

The feeling of anguish at the urgency of the problems cannot make us lose sight of what is essential nor forget the reply of Jesus to the Tempter: “It is not on bread alone that man lives, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt4:4; cf. Deut 8:3). Faced with the urgency of sharing bread, some are tempted to put evangelization into parentheses, as it were, and postpone it until tomorrow: first the bread, then the Word of the Lord. It is a fatal error to separate these two and even worse to oppose the one to the other. In fact, the Christian perspective naturally shows they have a great deal to do with one another. To some it even seems that the necessary struggle for human justice and freedom in the economic and political sense constitutes the whole essence of salvation. For them, the Gospel is reduced to a purely earthly gospel. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction about some aspects of the Theology of Liberation, VI, 3–4, August 6, 1984)

  • The primary motive of evangelization is the love of Christ for the eternal salvation of all

The primary motive of evangelization is the love of Christ for the eternal salvation of all. The sole desire of authentic evangelizers is to bestow freely what they themselves have freely received: “From the very origins of the Church, the disciples of Christ strove to convert men to faith in Christ the Lord; not, however, through coercion or tactics unworthy of the Gospel, but above all by the power of the word of God” (Dignitatis humanae, 11). The mission of the Apostles and its continuation in the mission of the early Church remain the foundational model of evangelization for all time: it is a mission that has often been marked by martyrdom, as demonstrated by the history of the twentieth century. It is precisely martyrdom that gives credibility to witnesses, who seek neither power nor advantage, but instead lay down their lives for Christ. Before all the world, they display an unarmed strength brimming with love for all people, which is bestowed on those who follow Christ unto the total gift of their existence. So it is that Christians, from the very dawn of Christianity up until our own time have suffered persecution on account of the Gospel, as Jesus himself foretold: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization, no. 8, December 3, 2007)

…judges Francis’ idea on if doctrine can be interpreted against the infallible Magisterium

  • Magisterial interventions are an expression of obedience to the Word of God and guarantee the Church’s unity in the truth of the Lord

Actually, the opinions of the faithful cannot be purely and simply identified with the ‘sensus fidei’. The sense of the faith is a property of theological faith; and, as God’s gift which enables one to adhere personally to the Truth, it cannot err. This personal faith is also the faith of the Church since God has given guardianship of the Word to the Church. Consequently, what the believer believes is what the Church believes. The “sensus fidei” implies then by its nature a profound agreement of spirit and heart with the Church, “sentire cum Ecclesia”. Although theological faith as such then cannot err, the believer can still have erroneous opinions since all his thoughts do not spring from faith. Not all the ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith. This is all the more so given that people can be swayed by a public opinion influenced by modern communications media. Not without reason did the Second Vatican Council emphasize the indissoluble bond between the “sensus fidei” and the guidance of God’s People by the magisterium of the Pastors. These two realities cannot be separated. Magisterial interventions serve to guarantee the Church’s unity in the truth of the Lord. They aid her to “abide in the truth” in face of the arbitrary character of changeable opinions and are an expression of obedience to the Word of God. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction Donum veritatis, no.35, March 24, 1990)

  • Catholic doctrine is to be presented and explained whole and entire, without ambiguous terms

Therefore the whole and entire Catholic doctrine is to be presented and explained: by no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction Ecclesia Catholica, no. II, December 20, 1949)

  • The relativism prevalent today is no valid reason for failing to proclaim the Gospel

The relativism and irenicism prevalent today in the area of religion are not valid reasons for failing to respond to the difficult, but awe-inspiring commitment which belongs to the nature of the Church herself and is indeed the Church’s “primary task”. “Caritas Christi urget nos – the love of Christ impels us” (2Cor 5:14): the lives of innumerable Catholics bear witness to this truth. Throughout the entire history of the Church, people motivated by the love of Jesus have undertaken initiatives and works of every kind in order to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world and in all sectors of society, as a perennial reminder and invitation to every Christian generation to fulfill with generosity the mandate of Christ. Therefore, as Pope Benedict XVI recalls, “the proclamation of and witness to the Gospel are the first service that Christians can render to every person and to the entire human race, called as they are to communicate to all God’s love, which was fully manifested in Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of the world”. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization, no. 13, December 3, 2007)

  • The truths which the Church intends to teach through her dogmatic formulas are distinct from the changeable conceptions of a given epoch

With regard to this historical condition, it must first be observed that the meaning of the pronouncements of faith depends partly upon the expressive power of the language used at a certain point in time and in particular circumstances. Moreover, it sometimes happens that some dogmatic truth is first expressed incompletely (but not falsely), and at a later date, when considered in a broader context of faith or human knowledge, it receives a fuller and more perfect expression. In addition, when the Church makes new pronouncements she intends to confirm or clarify what is in some way contained in Sacred Scripture or in previous expressions of Tradition; but at the same time she usually has the intention of solving certain questions or removing certain errors. All these things have to be taken into account in order that these pronouncements may be properly interpreted. Finally, even though the truths which the Church intends to teach through her dogmatic formulas are distinct from the changeable conceptions of a given epoch and can be expressed without them, nevertheless it can sometimes happen that these truths may be enunciated by the Sacred Magisterium in terms that bear traces of such conceptions. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration in defense of the Catholic doctrine on the Church against certain errors of the present day, Mysterium Ecclesiae, no. 5, June 24, 1973, Acta Apostolicae Sedis an. 65 (1973), pp. 396–408. Ratified and confirmed by Pope Paul VI, May 11, 1973)

  • The dogmatic formulas of the Church’s Magisterium are always suitable for communicating revealed truth

In view of the above, it must be stated that the dogmatic formulas of the Church’s Magisterium were from the beginning suitable for communicating revealed truth, and that as they are they remain forever suitable for communicating this truth to those who interpret them correctly (cf. Pius IX, Brief Eximiam Tuam; Paul VI, Encyclical Letter, Mysterium Fidei, and L’Oriente cristiano nella luce di immortali Concilii, in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. 5). It does not however follow that every one of these formulas has always been or will always be so to the same extent. For this reason theologians seek to define exactly the intention of teaching proper to the various formulas, and in carrying out this work they are of considerable assistance to the living Magisterium of the Church, to which they remain subordinated. For this reason also it often happens that ancient dogmatic formulas and others closely connected with them remain living and fruitful in the habitual usage of the Church, but with suitable expository and explanatory additions that maintain and clarify their original meaning. In addition, it has sometimes happened that in this habitual usage of the Church certain of these formulas gave way to new expressions which, proposed and approved by the Sacred Magisterium, presented more clearly or more completely the same meaning. (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration in defense of the Catholic doctrine on the Church against certain errors of the present day, Mysterium Ecclesiae, no. 5, June 24, 1973, Acta Apostolicae Sedis an. 65 (1973), pp. 396–408. Ratified and confirmed by Pope Paul VI, May 11, 1973)

  • The meaning of dogmatic formulas remains ever true and constant in the Church

As for the meaning of dogmatic formulas, this remains ever true and constant in the Church, even when it is expressed with greater clarity or more developed. The faithful therefore must shun the opinion, first, that dogmatic formulas (or some category of them) cannot signify truth in a determinate way, but can only offer changeable approximations to it, which to a certain extent distort of alter it; secondly, that these formulas signify the truth only in an indeterminate way, this truth being like a goal that is constantly being sought by means of such approximations. Those who hold such an opinion do not avoid dogmatic relativism and they corrupt the concept of the Church’s infallibility relative to the truth to be taught or held in a determinate way. Such an opinion clearly is in disagreement with the declarations of the First Vatican Council, which, while fully aware of the progress of the Church in her knowledge of revealed truth, (cf. Vatican Council I: Dei Filius, ch. 4; Conc. Oec. Decr. (3), p. 809 (DS 3020)) nevertheless taught as follows: “That meaning of sacred dogmas…must always be maintained which Holy Mother Church declared once and for all, nor should one ever depart from that meaning under the guise of or in the name of a more advanced understanding.” (Ibid) The Council moreover condemned the opinion that “dogmas once proposed by the Church must, with the progress of science be given a meaning other than that which was understood by the Church, or which she understands” (Ibid., can 3; Conc. Oec. Decr. (3), p. 811 (DS 3043)). There is no doubt that, according to these texts of the Council, the meaning of dogmas which is declared by the Church is determinate and unalterable. Such an opinion is likewise in contrast with Pope John’s assertion regarding Christian doctrine at the opening of the Second Vatican Council: “This certain and unchangeable doctrine, to which faithful obedience is due, has to be explored and presented in a way that is demanded by our times. One thing is the deposit of faith, which consists of the truths contained in sacred doctrine, another thing is the manner of presentation, always however with the same meaning and signification” (John XXIII, Alloc. in Concilii Vaticani inauguratione, Gaudium et spes, 62). Since the Successor of Peter is here speaking about certain and unchangeable Christian doctrine, about the deposit of faith which is the same as the truths contained in that doctrine and about the truths which have to be preserved with the same meaning, it is clear that he admits that we can know the true and unchanging meaning of dogmas. What is new and what he recommends in view of the needs of the times pertains only to the modes of studying, expounding and presenting that doctrine while keeping its permanent meaning. In a similar way the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI exhorted the pastors of the Church in the following words: “Nowadays a serious effort is required of us to ensure that the teaching of the faith should keep the fullness of its meaning and force, while expressing itself in a form which allows it to reach the spirit and heart of the people to whom it is addressed” (Paul VI. Quinque iam anni). (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration in defense of the Catholic doctrine on the Church against certain errors of the present day, Mysterium Ecclesiae, no. 5, June 24, 1973, Acta Apostolicae Sedis an. 65 (1973), pp. 396–408. Ratified and confirmed by Pope Paul VI, May 11, 1973)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Church’s rules on matrimony being ‘overly rigid’

  • Dissolute union defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit

Through marriage, in fact, the love of married people is taken up into that love which Christ irrevocably has for the Church, while dissolute sexual union defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit which the Christian has become. Sexual union therefore is only legitimate if a definitive community of life has been established between the man and the woman. This is what the Church has always understood and taught, and she finds a profound agreement with her doctrine in men’s reflection and in the lessons of history. (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Persona humana, no. 7, December 29, 1975)

  • A pastoral approach which truly wants to help must always be grounded in the truth – compromising truth is closing the way to holiness, peace, and inner freedom

A series of critical objections against the doctrine and praxis of the Church pertain to questions of a pastoral nature. Some say, for example, that the language used in the ecclesial documents is too legalistic, that the rigidity of law prevails over an understanding of dramatic human situations. They claim that the human person of today is no longer able to understand such language, that Jesus would have had an open ear for the needs of people, particularly for those on the margins of society. They say that the Church, on the other hand, presents herself like a judge who excludes wounded people from the sacraments and from certain public responsibilities. One can readily admit that the Magisterium’s manner of expression does not seem very easy to understand at times. It needs to be translated by preachers and catechists into a language which relates to people and to their respective cultural environments. The essential content of the Church’s teaching, however, must be upheld in this process. It must not be watered down on allegedly pastoral grounds, because it communicates the revealed truth. Certainly, it is difficult to make the demands of the Gospel understandable to secularized people. But this pastoral difficulty must not lead to compromises with the truth. In his Encyclical Veritatis splendor, John Paul II clearly rejected so-called pastoral solutions which stand in opposition to the statements of the Magisterium (cf. ibid. 56). Furthermore, concerning the position of the Magisterium as regards the question of divorced and remarried members of the faithful, it must be stressed that the more recent documents of the Church bring together the demands of truth with those of love in a very balanced way. If at times in the past, love shone forth too little in the explanation of the truth, so today the danger is great that in the name of love, truth is either to be silenced or compromised. Assuredly, the word of truth can be painful and uncomfortable. But it is the way to holiness, to peace, and to inner freedom. A pastoral approach which truly wants to help the people concerned must always be grounded in the truth. In the end, only the truth can be pastoral. ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (Jn. 8:32). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Concerning some objections to the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful, no. 5, January 1, 1998)

  • If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law

This view contradicts Catholic teaching that excludes the possibility of remarriage after divorce: “Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery’ (Mk 10:11–12) –, the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence”. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1650). (Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith. Notification on the book Just love, a framework for Christian sexual ethics, Sister Margaret A. Farley, RSM, March 30, 2012)

…judges Francis’ idea on the role of women in the Church

  • Mary is an invitation to the Church to root her very being in listening and receiving the Word of God

The existence of Mary is an invitation to the Church to root her very being in listening and receiving the Word of God, because faith is not so much the search for God on the part of human beings, as the recognition by men and women that God comes to us; he visits us and speaks to us. This faith, which believes that ‘nothing is impossible for God’ (cf. Gn18:14; Lk 1:37), lives and becomes deeper through the humble and loving obedience by which the Church can say to the Father:Let it be done to me according to your word’ (Lk 1:38). Faith continually makes reference to Jesus: ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (Jn 2:5) and accompanies Jesus on his way, even to the foot of the Cross. Mary, in the hour of darkness, perseveres courageously in faithfulness, with the sole certainty of trust in the Word of God. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world, July 31, 2004)

  • Women play a role of showing the true face of the Church, spouse of Christ and mother of believers

Regardless of conditions, states of life, different vocations with or without public responsibilities, they are an essential aspect of Christian life. While these traits should be characteristic of every baptized person, women in fact live them with particular intensity and naturalness. In this way, women play a role of maximum importance in the Church’s life by recalling these dispositions to all the baptized and contributing in a unique way to showing the true face of the Church, spouse of Christ and mother of believers. In this perspective one understands how the reservation of priestly ordination solely to men does not hamper in any way women’s access to the heart of Christian life. Women are called to be unique examples and witnesses for all Christians of how the Bride is to respond in love to the love of the Bridegroom. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and woman in the Church and in the world, July 31, 2004)

  • The only better gift which can and must be desired is love

It therefore remains for us to meditate more deeply on the nature of the real equality of the baptized which is one of the great affirmations of Christianity; equality is in no way identity, for the Church is a differentiated body, in which each individual has his or her role. The roles are distinct, and must not be confused; they do not favour the superiority of some vis-a-vis the others, nor do they provide an excuse for jealousy; the only better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (1Cor 12-13). The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are not the ministers but the saints. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Inter insigniores, On the question of admission of women to the ministerial priesthood, October 15, 1976)

  • Not even Christ’s Mother was invested with the apostolic ministry

Jesus Christ did not call any women to become part of the Twelve. If he acted in this way, it was not in order to conform to the customs of his time, for his attitude towards women was quite different from that of his milieu, and he deliberately and courageously broke with it. […] Even his Mother, who was so closely associated with the mystery of her Son, and whose incomparable role is emphasized by the Gospels of Luke and John, was not invested with the apostolic ministry. This fact was to lead the Fathers to present her as an example of Christ’s will in this domain; as Pope Innocent III repeated later, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, ‘Although the Blessed Virgin Mary surpassed in dignity and in excellence all the Apostles, nevertheless it was not to her but to them that the Lord entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven’ (Pope Innocent III, Epist). The apostolic community remained faithful to the attitude of Jesus towards women. Although Mary occupied a privileged place in the little circle of those gathered in the Upper Room after the Lord’s Ascension (Acts 1:14), it was not she who was called to enter the College of the Twelve at the time of the election that resulted in the choice of Mathias: those who were put forward were two disciples whom the Gospels do not even mention. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled them all, men and women (Acts 2:1, 1:14), yet the proclamation of the fulfillment of the prophecies in Jesus was made only by ‘Peter and the Eleven’ (Acts 2:14). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Inter insigniores on the question of admission of women to the ministerial priesthood, no. 2-3, October 15, 1976)

  • The Apostle forbids women from the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly

Another objection is based upon the transitory character that one claims to see today in some of the prescriptions of Saint Paul concerning women, and upon the difficulties that some aspects of his teaching raise in this regard. But it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1Cor 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value. However, the Apostle’s forbidding of women to speak in the assemblies (1Cor 14:34-35; 1Tim 2:12) is of a different nature, and exegetes define its meaning in this way: Paul in no way opposes the right, which he elsewhere recognises as possessed by women, to prophesy in the assembly (1Cor 11:15); the prohibition solely concerns the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly. For Saint Paul this prescription is bound up with the divine plan of creation (1Cor 11:7; Gen 2:18-24): it would be difficult to see in it the expression of a cultural fact. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Inter insigniores, On the question of admission of women to the ministerial priesthood, no.4, October 15, 1976)

…judges Francis’ idea on renouncing our own culture to receive the refugees

  • The Church’s primary task: to evangelize – ‘the love of Christ impels us’

The Church’s commitment to evangelization can never be lacking, since according to his own promise, the presence of the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit will never be absent from her: ‘I am with you always, even until the end of the world’ (Mt 28:20). The relativism and irenicism prevalent today in the area of religion are not valid reasons for failing to respond to the difficult, but awe-inspiring commitment which belongs to the nature of the Church herself and is indeed the Church’s ‘primary task’ (Benedict XVI, Homily at the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls, April 25, 2005). ‘Caritas Christi urget nos – the love of Christ impels us’ (2Cor 5:14): the lives of innumerable Catholics bear witness to this truth. Throughout the entire history of the Church, people motivated by the love of Jesus have undertaken initiatives and works of every kind in order to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world and in all sectors of society, as a perennial reminder and invitation to every Christian generation to fulfill with generosity the mandate of Christ. Therefore, as Pope Benedict XVI recalls, ‘the proclamation of and witness to the Gospel are the first service that Christians can render to every person and to the entire human race, called as they are to communicate to all God’s love, which was fully manifested in Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of the world’ (Benedict XVI, Address to the participants in the International Conference on the 40th anniversary of Ad gentes, March 11, 2006). The love which comes from God unites us to him and ‘makes us a “we which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is “all in all”’ (1Cor 15:28). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization, no. 13, December 3, 2007)

…judges Francis’ idea on confession

  • For the community, the priest is the image and symbol of Christ himself who forgives

The bishop or the priest, in the exercise of his ministry, does not act in his own name, in persona propria; he represents Christ, who acts through him: ‘The priest truly acts in the place of Christ’, as Saint Cyprian already wrote in the third century. It is the ability to represent Christ that Saint Paul considered as characteristic of his apostolic function (cf. 2Cor 5:20; Gal 4:14). […] If one does justice to these reflections, one will better understand how well-founded is the basis of the Church’s practice; and one will conclude that the controversies raised in our days […] are for all Christians a pressing invitation to meditate on the mystery of the Church, to study in greater detail the meaning of the episcopate and the priesthood, and to rediscover the real and preeminent place of the priest in the community of the baptized, of which he indeed forms part but from which he is distinguished because, in the actions that call for the character of ordination, for the community he is – with all the effectiveness proper to the sacraments – the image and symbol of Christ himself who calls, forgives, and accomplishes the sacrifice of the Covenant. (Denzinger-Hünermann 4599, 4602. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Inter insignioris, Ch. V, October 15, 1976)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Church’s moral teaching

  • Official condemnation of “situation ethics” by the Magisterium

Many of the things established in ‘situation ethics’ are contrary to the dictates of reason, of truth and of that which is reasonable, they display traces of relativism and modernism, and stray enormously from Catholic doctrine transmitted over the centuries. In many if their affirmations they are akin to several non-Catholic ethical systems. This said, to alert to the dangers of the “New Morality” of which the Supreme Pontiff Pius XII spoke in the Allocutions of the 23rd of March and the 18th of April of 1952, and to safeguard the purity and intactness of Catholic doctrine, this Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, reproves and prohibits the transmission of this doctrine, designated by the name of ‘situation ethics’, whether in Universities, Athenaeums, Seminaries and houses of religious formation, or in books, dissertations, meetings, conferences, or any other means of being propagated or maintained. (Congregation of the Holy Office. Instr. De “ethica situationis”, February 2, 1956)

…judges Francis’ idea on switching Christ for interconfessionalism

  • …and of keeping pure and whole the deposit of faith

This function of the Bishops belongs to the office divinely committed to them ‘of keeping pure and whole’ … ‘the deposit of faith’ in common with the Successor of Peter and ‘of proclaiming the Gospel without ceasing’; and by reason of this same office they are bound not to permit that ministers of the word of God, deviating from the way of sound doctrine, should pass it on corrupted or incomplete. The people, committed as they are to the care of the Bishops who ‘have to render account to God’ for them, enjoy ‘the sacred and inalienable right of receiving the word of God, the whole word of God, into which the Church does not cease to penetrate ever more profoundly’. (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration for safeguarding the belief in the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Most Holy Trinity against some recent errors, no. 7, February 21, 1972)

  • If the word is contradicted by behavior, its acceptance will be difficult

In any case, it needs to be remembered that, in transmitting the Gospel, word and witness of life go together. Above all, the witness of holiness is necessary, if the light of truth is to reach all human beings. If the word is contradicted by behaviour, its acceptance will be difficult. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization, no. III. 11, October 6, 2007)

  • Christ requires a complete adhesion of the intelligence, will, feelings, actions and future plans

‘This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (Jn 17:3). God has given human beings intellect and will so that they might freely seek, know and love him. Therefore, human freedom is both a resource and a challenge offered to man by God who has created him: an offer directed to the human person’s capacity to know and to love what is good and true. Nothing puts in play human freedom like the search for the good and the true, by inviting it to a kind of commitment which involves fundamental aspects of life. This is particularly the case with salvific truth, which is not only an object of thought, but also an event which encompasses the entire person – intelligence, will, feelings, actions and future plans – when a person adheres to Christ. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Doctrinal Note on some aspects of Evangelization, no. II, 4, October 6, 2007)

  • Conversion signifies a reform of thought and deeds

Conversion (metanoia), in its precisely Christian meaning, signifies a change in thinking and in acting, as the expression of the new life in Christ proclaimed by faith: a continuous reform of thought and deeds directed at an ever more intense identification with Christ (cf. Gal 2:20), to which the baptized are called before all else. This is, in the first place, the meaning of the call made by Jesus himself: ‘repent and believe in the Gospel’ (Mk 1:15; cf. Mt 4:17). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization, no. III, 9, October 6, 2007)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Church’s fault for the Anglican schism

  • Benedict XVI has shown his fatherly care in his negociations with the Anglicans

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus of November 4th 2009, provides the essential norms which will govern the erection and the life of Personal Ordinariates for those Anglican faithful who wish to enter, either corporately or individually, into full communion with the Catholic Church. In this way, as it says in the Introduction, the Holy Father Benedict XVI – Supreme Pastor of the Church and, by mandate of Christ, guarantor of the unity of the episcopate and of the universal communion of all the Churches – has shown his fatherly care for those Anglican faithful (lay, clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated life and of Societies of Apostolic Life) who have repeatedly petitioned the Holy See to be received into full Catholic Communion. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The significance of the Apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, by Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, November 4, 2009)

  • John Paul II was favorable to encountering a way for Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, while reflecting certain elements of their own heritage

In June 1980, the Holy See, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, agreed to the request presented by the Bishops of the United States of America on behalf of some clergy and laity formerly or actually belonging to the Episcopal (Anglican) Church for full communion with the Catholic Church. The Holy See’s response to the initiative of these Episcopalians includes the possibility of a pastoral provision which will provide, for those who desire it, a common identity reflecting certain elements of their own heritage. The entrance of these persons into the Catholic Church should be understood as the ‘reconciliation of those individuals who wish for full Catholic communion’ of which the Decree on Ecumenism (no. 4) of the Second Vatican Council speaks. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration, March 31, 1981)

  • The decision of the Church of England to permit the ordination of women bishops was a step which would have a serious negative impact on full union with the Church

The decisions of the recent Synod of the Church of England to permit the ordination of women bishops […] In 1975 Pope Paul VI issued a formal appeal to the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Frederick Donald Coggan, to avoid taking a step which would have a serious negative impact on ecumenical relations. […] For Catholics, the issue of the reservation of priestly ordination to men is not merely a matter of praxis or discipline, but is rather doctrinal in nature and touches the heart of the doctrine of the Eucharist itself and the sacramental nature or ‘constitution’ of the Church. It is therefore a question which cannot be relegated to the periphery of ecumenical conversations, but needs to be engaged directly in honesty and charity by dialogue partners who desire Christian unity which, by its very nature, is Eucharistic. Cardinal Walter Kasper, current President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, addressed this very point in an intervention given in June, 2006, to the House of Bishops of the Church of England during its discussions on the ordination of women to the episcopate. In his talk he affirmed: ‘Because the episcopal office is a ministry of unity, the decision you face would immediately impact on the question of the unity of the Church and with it the goal of ecumenical dialogue. It would be a decision against the common goal we have until now pursued in our dialogue: full ecclesial communion, which cannot exist without full communion in the episcopal office.’ (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Address of Cardinal William Levada: Five hundred years after Saint John Fisher: Pope Benedict’s initiatives regarding the Anglican Communion, March 6, 2010)

…judges Francis’ idea on obtaining spiritual fruits in other religions

  • Other prayers and rituals do not have a divine origin or a salvific efficacy; and constitute an obstacle to salvation

Indeed, some prayers and rituals of the other religions may assume a role of preparation for the Gospel, in that they are occasions or pedagogical helps in which the human heart is prompted to be open to the action of God. One cannot attribute to these, however, a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they depend on superstitions or other errors (cf. 1Cor 10:20 – 21), constitute an obstacle to salvation. With the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ, God has willed that the Church founded by him be the instrument for the salvation of all humanity (cf. Acts 17:30 – 31). This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism ‘characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another’ (John Paul II, Redemptoris missio, 36). If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus no. 21 – 22)

…judges Francis’ idea on Ecumenical dialogue

  • It is even stated that the claim to have received the gift of the fullness of God’s revelation masks an attitude of intolerance and a danger to peace!

For a long time, the reason for evangelization has not been clear to many among the Catholic faithful. It is even stated that the claim to have received the gift of the fullness of God’s revelation masks an attitude of intolerance and a danger to peace. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization, no. 10, December 3, 2007)

  • The Church is conscious of being the bearer of a radical faithfulness to the Word of God which she has received from Christ until the end of the ages

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, Concerning the Reply for the Doctrine of the Faith on teaching contained in the Apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, October 28, 1995)

  • There is a great distinction between theological faith and the belief in the other religions

For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions, must be firmly held. […] This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 7, August 6, 2000)

  • By no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth: outside the truth no true union can ever be attained

Therefore the whole and entire Catholic doctrine is to be presented and explained: by no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth […] moreover because outside the truth no true union can ever be attained. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction Ecclesia Catholica, no. II, December 20, 1949)

  • Relativistic theories deny the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and propagate a religious pluralism not only de facto but also de iure

The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church. […] On the basis of such presuppositions, which may evince different nuances, certain theological proposals are developed — at times presented as assertions, and at times as hypotheses — in which Christian revelation and the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church lose their character of absolute truth and salvific universality, or at least shadows of doubt and uncertainty are cast upon them. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 4, August 6, 2000)

  • A condemned proposition: ‘To think that the God of one’s own religion is the only one is simply fanaticism’

Religions, including Christianity, are one of the major obstacles to the discovery of truth. This truth, however, is never defined by the author in its precise contents. For him, to think that the God of one’s own religion is the only one is simply fanaticism. ‘God’ is considered as a cosmic reality, vague and omnipresent; the personal nature of God is ignored and in practice denied. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Notification concerning the writings of Father Anthony de Mello, SJ, June 24, 1998)

  • The equality, which is a presupposition of inter-religious dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue, not to doctrinal content, and even less to Jesus Christ

Indeed, God ‘desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1Tim 2:4); that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the promptings of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary”. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 851) Inter-religious dialogue, therefore, as part of her evangelizing mission, is just one of the actions of the Church in her mission ad gentes. Equality, which is a presupposition of inter-religious dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue, not to doctrinal content, nor even less to the position of Jesus Christ — who is God himself made man — in relation to the founders of the other religions. Indeed, the Church, guided by charity and respect for freedom, must be primarily committed to proclaiming to all people the truth definitively revealed by the Lord, and to announcing the necessity of conversion to Jesus Christ and of adherence to the Church through Baptism and the other sacraments, in order to participate fully in communion with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, the certainty of the universal salvific will of God does not diminish, but rather increases the duty and urgency of the proclamation of salvation and of conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 22, August 6, 2000)

  • If dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve not just the mutual openness but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith

However, if such dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith. Only in this way will it be able to lead towards the unity of all Christians in ‘one flock with one shepherd’ (Jn 10, 16) and thus heal that wound which prevents the Catholic Church from fully realising her universality within history. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Commentary on the document, Responses to some question regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the Church, June 29, 2007)

…judges Francis’ idea on God judging us by loving us

  • Christ requires an adhesion that encompasses the entire person – intelligence, will, feelings, actions and future plans

God has given human beings intellect and will so that they might freely seek, know and love him. Therefore, human freedom is both a resource and a challenge offered to man by God who has created him: an offer directed to the human person’s capacity to know and to love what is good and true. Nothing puts in play human freedom like the search for the good and the true, by inviting it to a kind of commitment which involves fundamental aspects of life. This is particularly the case with salvific truth, which is not only an object of thought, but also an event which encompasses the entire person – intelligence, will, feelings, actions and future plans – when a person adheres to Christ. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization, October 6, 2007)

  • Change in thinking and in acting

Generally, the term conversion is used in reference to bringing pagans into the Church. However, conversion (metanoia), in its precisely Christian meaning, signifies a change in thinking and in acting, as the expression of the new life in Christ proclaimed by faith: a continuous reform of thought and deeds directed at an ever more intense identification with Christ (cf. Gal 2:20). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization, October 6, 2007)

…judges Francis’ idea on proclaiming the Gospel only with gentleness

  • A great danger: that in the name of ‘love’, truth be either silenced or compromised

Furthermore, concerning the position of the Magisterium as regards the question of divorced and remarried members of the faithful, it must be stressed that the more recent documents of the Church bring together the demands of truth with those of love in a very balanced way. If at times in the past, love shone forth too little in the explanation of the truth, so today the danger is great that in the name of love, truth is either to be silenced or compromised. Assuredly, the word of truth can be painful and uncomfortable. But it is the way to holiness, to peace, and to inner freedom. A pastoral approach which truly wants to help the people concerned must always be grounded in the truth. In the end, only the truth can be pastoral. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Concerning some objections to the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful, no. 5, January 1, 1998)

…judges Francis’ idea on proclaiming the Gospel

  • 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)

  • 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)

…judges Francis’ idea on new forms of poverty

  • A fatal error: the temptation to postpone evangelization giving preference to sharing bread

The feeling of anguish at the urgency of the problems cannot make us lose sight of what is essential nor forget the reply of Jesus to the Tempter: ‘It is not on bread alone that man lives, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Mt 4:4; cf., Deut 8:3). Faced with the urgency of sharing bread, some are tempted to put evangelization into parentheses, as it were, and postpone it until tomorrow: first the bread, then the Word of the Lord. It is a fatal error to separate these two and even worse to oppose the one to the other. In fact, the Christian perspective naturally shows they have a great deal to do with one another. To some it even seems that the necessary struggle for human justice and freedom in the economic and political sense constitutes the whole essence of salvation. For them, the Gospel is reduced to a purely earthly gospel. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, no. VI, 3 – 4, August 6, 1984)

  • Jesus wished to call the excluded to conversion

But he [Jesus] also wished to be near to those who, though rich in the goods of this world, were excluded from the community as ‘publicans and sinners’, for he had come to call them to conversion (Mk 2, 13 – 17; Lk 19, 1 – 10). It is this sort of poverty, made up of detachment, trust in God, sobriety and a readiness to share, that Jesus declared blessed. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction on Christian freedom and liberation, no. 66, March 22, 1986)

…judges Francis’ idea on the poor being the heart of the Gospel

  • All men should be poor in spirit

It is only when one begins with the task of evangelization understood in its entirety that the authentic requirements of human progress and liberation are appreciated. This liberation has as its indispensable pillars: ‘the truth about Jesus the Savior’; ‘the truth about the Church’; and ‘the truth about man and his dignity’. It is in light of the Beatitudes, and especially the Beatitude of the poor of heart, that the Church, which wants to be the Church of the poor throughout the world, intends to come to the aid of the noble struggle for truth and justice. She addresses each person, and for that reason, every person. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, XI, no. 5, August 6, 1984)

…judges Francis’ idea that spiritual direction is a charism of the laity

  • The faithful need pastors to teach them and must accept their teaching

But by divine institution it is the exclusive task of these pastors alone, the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, to teach the faithful authentically, that is with the authority of Christ shared in different ways; so that the faithful, who may not simply listen to them as experts in Catholic doctrine, must accept their teaching given in Christ’s name, with an assent that is proportionate to the authority that they possess and that they mean to exercise. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, in harmony with the first Vatican Council, teaches that Christ made Peter ‘a perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity of the faith and of communion’ (LG, 18); and the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI has declared: ‘The teaching office of the bishops is for the believer the sign and channel which enable him to receive and recognize the Word of God’ (Paul VI, Quinque iam anni). Thus, however much the Sacred Magisterium avails itself of the contemplation, life and study of the faithful, its office is not reduced merely to ratifying the assent already expressed by the latter; indeed, in the interpretation and explanation of the written or transmitted Word of God, the Magisterium can anticipate or demand their assent. The People of God has particular need of the intervention and assistance of the Magisterium when internal disagreements arise and spread concerning a doctrine that must be believed or held, lest it lose the communion of the one faith in the one Body of the Lord (cf. Eph 4:4, 5). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration in defense of the Catholic doctrine on the Church against certain errors of the present day, no. 2, June 24, 1973)

…judges Francis’ idea that Christians and Muslims share the same faith

  • Christ’s Church is not a collection of churches and ecclesial communities

But at the same time Catholics are bound to profess that through the gift of God’s mercy they belong to that Church which Christ founded and which is governed by the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, who are the depositories of the original Apostolic tradition, living and intact, which is the permanent heritage of doctrine and holiness of that same Church. The followers of Christ are therefore not permitted to imagine that Christ’s Church is nothing more than a collection (divided, but still possessing a certain unity) of Churches and ecclesial communities. Nor are they free to hold that Christ’s Church nowhere really exists today and that it is to be considered only as an end which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, no. 1, June 24, 1973)

  • The distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions must be firmly held

For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions, must be firmly held. […] This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 7, August 6, 2000)

  • Non-Christian rituals constitute an obstacle to salvation

Indeed, some prayers and rituals of the other religions may assume a role of preparation for the Gospel, in that they are occasions or pedagogical helps in which the human heart is prompted to be open to the action of God. One cannot attribute to these, however, a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they depend on superstitions or other errors (cf. 1Cor 10:20-21), constitute an obstacle to salvation. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 21, August 6, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea on good-will replacing theological investigation

  • Theology is something indispensable for the Church

In the Christian faith, knowledge and life, truth and existence are intrinsically connected. Assuredly, the truth given in God’s revelation exceeds the capacity of human knowledge, but it is not opposed to human reason. Revelation in fact penetrates human reason, elevates it, and calls it to give an account of itself (cf. 1Pet 3:15). For this reason, from the very beginning of the Church, the ‘standard of teaching’ (cf. Rom 6:17) has been linked with baptism to entrance into the mystery of Christ. The service of doctrine, implying as it does the believer’s search for an understanding of the faith, i.e., theology, is therefore something indispensable for the Church. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction Donum veritatis, no. 1, May 24, 1990)

  • Theology is obedient to the impulse of truth, arises from love, and seeks to be communicated

Theology therefore offers its contribution so that the faith might be communicated. Appealing to the understanding of those who do not yet know Christ, it helps them to seek and find faith. Obedient to the impulse of truth which seeks to be communicated, theology also arises from love and love’s dynamism. In the act of faith, man knows God’s goodness and begins to love Him. Love, however, is ever desirous of a better knowledge of the beloved. From this double origin of theology, inscribed upon the interior life of the People of God and its missionary vocation, derives the method with which it ought to be pursued in order to satisfy the requirements of its nature. Since the object of theology is the Truth which is the living God and His plan for salvation revealed in Jesus Christ, the theologian is called to deepen his own life of faith and continuously unite his scientific research with prayer. In this way, he will become more open to the ‘supernatural sense of faith’ upon which he depends, and it will appear to him as a sure rule for guiding his reflections and helping him assess the correctness of his conclusions. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction Donum veritatis, no. 7, May 24, 1990)

  • The due freedom of theologians must always be limited by the Word of God as is faithfully preserved and expounded in the Church

The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rejoices that theologians are by intense study exploring more and more the mystery of the Church. It recognizes also that in their work they touch on many questions which can only be clarified by complementary studies and by various efforts and conjectures. However, the due freedom of theologians must always be limited by the Word of God as it is faithfully preserved and expounded in the Church and taught and explained by the living Magisterium of the pastors and especially of the Pastor of the entire People of God. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, In defense of the Catholic Doctrine on the Church against certain errors of the present day, no. 6, June 24, 1973)

  • The only true union is achieved by the return of the dissidents to the one true Church of Christ

Therefore the whole and entire Catholic doctrine is to be presented and explained: by no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth regarding the nature and way of justification, the constitution of the Church, the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, and the only true union by the return of the dissidents to the one true Church of Christ. It should be made clear to them that, in returning to the Church, they will lose nothing of that good which by the grace of God has hitherto been implanted in them, but that it will rather be supplemented and completed by their return. However, one should not speak of this in such a way that they will imagine that in returning to the Church they are bringing to it something substantial which it has hitherto lacked. It will be necessary to say these things clearly and openly, first because it is the truth that they themselves are seeking, and moreover because outside the truth no true union can ever be attained. (Congregation of the Holy Office. Instruction Ecclesia Catholica, no. II, December 20, 1949)

  • Do not imagine that Christ’s Church is nothing more than a collection of churches and ecclesial communities

But at the same time Catholics are bound to profess that through the gift of God’s mercy they belong to that Church which Christ founded and which is governed by the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, who are the depositories of the original Apostolic tradition, living and intact, which is the permanent heritage of doctrine and holiness of that same Church. The followers of Christ are therefore not permitted to imagine that Christ’s Church is nothing more than a collection (divided, but still possessing a certain unity) of Churches and ecclesial communities. Nor are they free to hold that Christ’s Church nowhere really exists today and that it is to be considered only as an end which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, no. 1, June 24, 1973)

  • The unicity of the Church founded by Christ must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith

The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff., Gal 3:28, Eph 4:15-16, Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27), which is his body (cf. 1Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18). And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single ‘whole Christ’. This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2Cor 11:2, Eph 5:25-29, Rev 21:2,9). Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: ‘a single Catholic and apostolic Church’. Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf. Mt 16:18, 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church like everything that belongs to the Church’s integrity will never be lacking. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 16, August 6, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea on family

  • The family is of natural law, and homosexual relations contradict this law

There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts ‘close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved’. Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts ‘as a serious depravity’ (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1Cor 6:10; 1Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’. This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons, no. 4, July 31, 2003)

  • Homosexual relations are depraved and in no way similar to matrimony

In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life. In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of. (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Persona humana, no. 8, December 29, 1975)

  • Homosexual behavior is intrinsically immoral

The Church, obedient to the Lord who founded her and gave to her the Sacramental life, celebrates the divine plan of the loving and live-giving union of men and women in the Sacrament of marriage. It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally. To choose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons, no. 7, October 1, 2006)

  • Union outside of marriage defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit

Through marriage, in fact, the love of married people is taken up into that love which Christ irrevocably has for the Church, while dissolute sexual union defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit which the Christian has become. Sexual union therefore is only legitimate if a definitive community of life has been established between the man and the woman. This is what the Church has always understood and taught, and she finds a profound agreement with her doctrine in men’s reflection and in the lessons of history. (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Persona humana, no. 7, December 29, 1975)

…judges Francis’ idea on studying theology

  • The theologian’s role is to pursue in a particular way an understanding of the Word of God

Among the vocations awakened in this way by the Spirit in the Church is that of the theologian. His role is to pursue in a particular way an ever deeper understanding of the Word of God found in the inspired Scriptures and handed on by the living Tradition of the Church. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis, May 24, 1990)

  • The theologian should give an accounting for their hope to those who ask it

Theological science responds to the invitation of truth as it seeks to understand the faith. It thereby aids the People of God in fulfilling the Apostle’s command (cf. 1Pet 3:15) to give an accounting for their hope to those who ask it. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis, no. 6, May 24, 1990)

  • Theology constitutes an integral part of obedience to Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations and teach them

Theology, which seeks the ‘reasons of faith’ and offers these reasons as a response to those seeking them, thus constitutes an integral part of obedience to the command of Christ [cf. to make ‘disciples’ of all nations and teach them, Mt 28:19 f] for men cannot become disciples if the truth found in the word of faith is not presented to them (cf. Rom 10:14 f). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis, no. 7, May 24, 1990)

  • The object of theology: Truth

Since the object of theology is the Truth which is the living God and His plan for salvation revealed in Jesus Christ, the theologian is called to deepen his own life of faith and continuously unite his scientific research with prayer (cf. John Paul II, ‘Discorso in occasione della consegna del premio internazionale Paulo VI a Hans Urs von Balthasar’, June 23, 1984). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis, no. 8, March 20, 1990)

…judges Francis’ idea that catholics and muslims adore the same God

  • Theological faith in the Triune God is distinct from belief in Allah

For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions, must be firmly held. […] This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 7, August 6, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea on sects forming part of the Church

  • Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ

In connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: ‘a single Catholic and apostolic Church’ (cf. Mt 16:18, 28:20). Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church — like everything that belongs to the Church’s integrity — will never be lacking. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 16, August 6, 2000)

  • Christ and the Church constitute a single ‘whole Christ’

And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single ‘whole Christ’. This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2Cor 11:2, Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2, 9) (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 16, August 6, 2000)

  • The faithful may not imagine that the Church of Christ is a collection of Churches

‘The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach’. In fact, ‘the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities’. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 17, August 6, 2000)

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

The first question asks if the Second Vatican Council changed 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). There is also a continuity between the doctrine taught by the Council and that of subsequent interventions of the Magisterium which have taken up and deepened this same doctrine, which itself constitutes a development. In this sense, for instance, the Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Dominus Iesus merely reaffirmed the conciliar and post-conciliar teachings without adding or taking away anything. In the post-conciliar period, however, and notwithstanding these clear affirmations, the doctrine of Vatican II has been, and continues to be, the object of erroneous interpretations at variance with traditional Catholic doctrine on the nature of the Church: either seeing in it a ‘Copernican revolution’ or else emphasizing some aspects almost to the exclusion of others. In reality the profound intention of the Second Vatican Council was clearly to insert the discourse on the Church within and subordinate to the discourse on God, therefore proposing an ecclesiology which is truly theological. The reception of the teaching of the Council has, however, often obscured this point, relativising it in favor of individual ecclesiological affirmations, and often emphasizing specific words or phrases which encourage a partial and unbalanced understanding of this same conciliar doctrine. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Commentary on the document Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the Church, June 29, 2007)

  • Regarding the phrase ‘subsistit in’

The second question asks what is meant by the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. When G. Philips wrote that the phrase ‘subsistit in’ had caused ‘rivers of ink’ to be spilt, he would probably never have imagined that the discussion would continue for so long or with such intensity as to have provoked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to publish this present document. This publication, based on the conciliar and postconciliar texts which it cites, reflects the concern of the Congregation to safeguard the unity and unicity of the Church, which would be compromised by the proposal that the Church founded by Christ could have more than one subsistence. If this were the case we would be forced, as the Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae puts it, to imagine ‘the Church of Christ as the sum total of the Churches or the ecclesial Communities – which are simultaneously differentiated and yet united’, or ‘to think that the Church of Christ no longer exists today concretely and therefore can only be the object of research for the Churches and the communities.’ If this were the case, the Church of Christ would not any longer exist in history, or would exist only in some ideal form emerging either through some future convergence or through the reunification of the diverse sister Churches, to be hoped for and achieved through dialogue. The Notification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning a book of Leonardo Boff is even more explicit. In response to Boff’s assertion that the one Church of Christ ‘is able to subsist in other Christian Churches’, the Notification states that ‘the Council chose the word ‘subsistit’ specifically to clarify that the true Church has only one ‘subsistence’, while outside her visible boundaries there are only ‘elementa Ecclesiae’ which – being elements of the same Church – tend and lead to the Catholic Church.’ (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Commentary on the document Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the Church, June 29, 2007)

  • The Church exists as a unique historical reality – the Catholic Church has not ceased to regard herself as the one true Church of Christ

The third question asks why the expression ‘subsistit in’ was used rather than the verb ‘est’. It is precisely this change of terminology in the description of the relationship between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church which has given rise to the most varied interpretations, above all in the field of ecumenism. In reality, the Council Fathers simply intended to recognise the presence of ecclesial elements proper to the Church of Christ in the non-Catholic Christian communities. It does not follow that the identification of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church no longer holds, nor that outside the Catholic Church there is a complete absence of ecclesial elements, a ‘churchless void’. What it does mean is that if the expression ‘subsistit in’ is considered in its true context, namely in reference to the Church of Christ ‘constituted and organised in this world as a society… governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him’, then the change from est to subsistit in takes on no particular theological significance of discontinuity with previously held Catholic doctrine. In fact, precisely because the Church willed by Christ actually continues to exist (subsistit in) in the Catholic Church, this continuity of subsistence implies an essential identity between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church. The Council wished to teach that we encounter the Church of Jesus Christ as a concrete historical subject in the Catholic Church. The idea, therefore, that subsistence can somehow be multiplied does not express what was intended by the choice of the term ‘subsistit’. In choosing the word ‘subsistit’ the Council intended to express the singularity and non ‘multipliability’ of the Church of Christ: the Church exists as a unique historical reality. Contrary to many unfounded interpretations, therefore, the change from ‘est’ to ‘subsistit’ does not signify that the Catholic Church has ceased to regard herself as the one true Church of Christ. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Commentary on the document Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the Church, June 29, 2007)

  • Regarding the expression ‘sister Churches’

The expression sister Churches occurs often in ecumenical dialogue, above all, in the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, and is the object of continuing study by both parties. While there is certainly a legitimate use of this expression, an ambiguous use has become prevalent in contemporary writings on ecumenism. In conformity with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar Papal Magisterium, it is therefore appropriate to recall the correct and proper use of this expression. It is helpful to begin with a brief historical outline. […] In fact, in the proper sense, sister Churches are exclusively particular Churches (or groupings of particular Churches; for example, the Patriarchates or Metropolitan provinces) among themselves. It must always be clear, when the expression sister Churches is used in this proper sense, that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Universal Church is not sister but mother of all the particular Churches. One may also speak of sister Churches, in a proper sense, in reference to particular Catholic and non-catholic Churches; thus the particular Church of Rome can also be called the sister of all other particular Churches. However, as recalled above, one cannot properly say that the Catholic Church is the sister of a particular Church or group of Churches. This is not merely a question of terminology, but above all of respecting a basic truth of the Catholic faith: that of the unicity of the Church of Jesus Christ. In fact, there is but a single Church, and therefore the plural term Churches can refer only to particular Churches. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Note on the expression ‘sister churches’, A letter to the Presidents of the Conferences of Bishops, no. 1.10-11, June 30, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea on human suffering

  • The temptation to diminish the Son of God to our size

Today, the temptation is great to diminish Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into a merely historical Jesus, into a pure man. One does not necessarily deny the divinity of Jesus, but by using certain methods one distills from the Bible a Jesus to our size, a Jesus possible and comprehensible within the parameters of our historiography. But this ‘historical Jesus’ is an artifact, the image of his authors rather that the image of the living God (see 2 Cor 4:4ff, Col 1:15). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Intervention of Cardinal Ratzinger during the Congress of Catechists and Religion Teachers, December 10, 2000)

  • The confession of the divinity of Jesus Christ is an absolutely essential part of the faith

The divinity of Jesus has been the object of the Church’s faith from the beginning, long before his consubstantiality with the Father was proclaimed by the Council of Nicea. The fact that this term was not used does not mean that the divinity of Jesus was not affirmed in the strict sense. […] The divinity of Jesus is clearly attested to in the passages of the New Testament […] The numerous Conciliar declarations in this regard[6] are in continuity with that which the New Testament affirms explicitly and not only ‘in seed’. The confession of the divinity of Jesus Christ has been an absolutely essential part of the faith of the Church since her origins. It is explicitly witnessed to since the New Testament. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Notification on the works of Jon Sobrino, SJ, November 26, 2006)

  • Whoever omits the cross, omits the essence of Christianity

In the reconstruction of the ‘historical Jesus’, usually the theme of the cross has no meaning. In a ‘bourgeois’ interpretation it becomes an incident per se evitable, without theological value, in a revolutionary interpretation it becomes the heroic death of a rebel. The truth is quite different. The cross belongs to the divine mystery — it is the expression of his love to the end (Jn 13:1). The following of Christ is participation in his cross, uniting oneself to his love, to the transformation of our life, which becomes the birth of the new man, created according to God (cf. Eph 4:24). Whoever omits the cross, omits the essence of Christianity (cf. 1Cor 2:2). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Intervention of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger during the Congress of Catechists and Religion Teachers, December 10, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea that man is the center of christian life

  • Pastors run the risk of being diverted to works which are just as damaging as the poverty which is being fought

The zeal and the compassion which should dwell in the hearts of all pastors nevertheless run the risk of being led astray and diverted to works which are just as damaging to man and his dignity as is the poverty which is being fought, if one is not sufficiently attentive to certain temptations. The feeling of anguish at the urgency of the problems cannot make us lose sight of what is essential nor forget the reply of Jesus to the Tempter: ‘It is not on bread alone that man lives, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Deut 8:3). Faced with the urgency of sharing bread, some are tempted to put evangelization into parentheses, as it were, and postpone it until tomorrow: first the bread, then the Word of the Lord. It is a fatal error to separate these two and even worse to oppose the one to the other. In fact, the Christian perspective naturally shows they have a great deal to do with one another. To some it even seems that the necessary struggle for human justice and freedom in the economic and political sense constitutes the whole essence of salvation. For them, the Gospel is reduced to a purely earthly gospel. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, VI, no. 2-4, August 6, 1984)

…judges Francis’ idea on selling off churches to feed the poor

  • The ultimate normative principle: the truth revealed by God himself. To place the poor as the point of departure is a misrepresentation of the faith

In his book ‘Jesus the Liberator: A Historical-Theological View’, Father Sobrino affirms: “Latin American Christology…identifies its setting, in the sense of a real situation, as the poor of this world, and this situation is what must be present in and permeate any particular setting in which Christology is done” Further, […] “the Church of the poor…is the ecclesial setting of Christology because it is a world shaped by the poor” […] While such a preoccupation for the poor and oppressed is admirable, in these quotations the “Church of the poor” assumes the fundamental position which properly belongs to the faith of the Church. It is only in this ecclesial faith that all other theological foundations find their correct epistemological setting. The ecclesial foundation of Christology may not be identified with “the Church of the poor”, but is found rather in the apostolic faith transmitted through the Church for all generations. The theologian, in his particular vocation in the Church, must continually bear in mind that theology is the science of the faith. Other points of departure for theological work run the risk of arbitrariness and end in a misrepresentation of the same faith. […] theological reflection cannot have a foundation other than the faith of the Church. […] Thus the truth revealed by God himself in Jesus Christ, and transmitted by the Church, constitutes the ultimate normative principle of theology. Nothing else may surpass it. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Notification on the works of Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J., nos.2.11. November 26, 2006)

  • The Church receives from Christ the truth of salvation that she offers to mankind

This truth which comes from God has its centre in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. From him, who is ‘the way, and the truth, and the life’ (Jn 14:6), the Church receives all that she has to offer to mankind. Through the mystery of the Incarnate Word and Redeemer of the world, she possesses the truth regarding the Father and his love for us, and also the truth concerning man and his freedom. Through his Cross and Resurrection, Christ has brought about our Redemption, which is liberation in the strongest sense of the word, since it has freed us from the most radical evil, namely sin and the power of death. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction Libertatis conscientia on Christian Freedom and Liberation, no. 3, March 22, 1986)

  • By the power of his Paschal Mystery, Christ has set us free

The Son of God who has made himself poor for love of us wishes to be recognized in the poor, in those who suffer or are persecuted: ‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25: 40). But is it above all by the power of his Paschal Mystery that Christ has set us free. Through his perfect obedience on the Cross and through the glory of his Resurrection, the Lamb of God has taken away the sin of the world and opened for us the way to definitive liberation (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction Libertatis conscientia on Christian Freedom and Liberation, no. 3, March 22, 1986)

  • The Redemption, accomplished by Jesus, is made efficacious through the Sacraments

The mystery of the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God become man, is the unique and inexhaustible font of the redemption of humanity, made efficacious in the Church through the sacraments. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Notification on the works of Fr. Jon Sobrino SJ, no. 10, November 26, 2006)

  • The first poverty is not to know Christ

In this way, the Congregation seeks to be of service to the people of God, and particularly to the simple and poorest members of the Church. From the beginning, this preoccupation for the poor has been one of the characteristics of the Church’s mission. If it is true, as the Holy Father has indicated, that ‘the first poverty among people is not to know Christ’, (Benedict XVI, Lenten Message 2006). then all people have the right to know the Lord Jesus, who is “the hope of the nations and the salvation of the peoples”. What is more, each Christian has the right to know in an adequate, authentic, and integral manner the truth which the Church professes and expresses about Christ. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Notification on the works of Fr. Jon Sobrino S.J., no. 1, November 26, 2006)

  • Human misery is the obvious sign of the need for salvation

In its various forms – material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illnesses, and finally death – human misery is the obvious sign of the natural condition of weakness in which man finds himself since original sin and the sign of his need for salvation. Hence it drew the compassion of Christ the Savior to take it upon himself and to be identified with the least of his brethren (cf. Mt 25:40, 45). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, no. 68, March 22, 1986)

  • The preoccupation with bread cannot postpone evangelization

The zeal and the compassion which should dwell in the hearts of all pastors nevertheless run the risk of being led astray and diverted to works which are just as damaging to man and his dignity as is the poverty which is being fought, if one is not sufficiently attentive to certain temptations. The feeling of anguish at the urgency of the problems cannot make us lose sight of what is essential nor forget the reply of Jesus to the Tempter: ‘It is not on bread alone that man lives, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3). Faced with the urgency of sharing bread, some are tempted to put evangelization into parentheses, as it were, and postpone it until tomorrow: first the bread, then the Word of the Lord. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction on certain aspects f the “Theology of Liberation”, no VI, 2-3, August 6, 1984)

…judges Francis’ prayer in the ecumenical and interreligious Meeting in Sarajevo

  • Theological faith is very different from belief in the other religions

For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions, must be firmly held. […] This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 7, August 6, 2000)

  • Relativistic theories deny the absolute truth and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church

The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, […] the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, […] On the basis of such presuppositions, which may evince different nuances, certain theological proposals are developed — at times presented as assertions, and at times as hypotheses — in which Christian revelation and the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church lose their character of absolute truth and salvific universality, or at least shadows of doubt and uncertainty are cast upon them. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 4, August 6, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea on asking prayers from non-catholics and atheists

  • Christian prayer must always be within the ‘Communion of Saints’

This is why when a Christian prays, even if he is alone, his prayer is in fact always within the framework of the ‘Communion of Saints’ in which and with which he prays, whether in a public and liturgical way or in a private manner. Consequently, it must always be offered within the authentic spirit of the Church at prayer, and therefore under its guidance, which can sometimes take a concrete form in terms of a proven spiritual direction. The Christian, even when he is alone and prays in secret, is conscious that he always prays for the good of the Church in union with Christ, in the Holy Spirit and together with all the Saints. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Bishops on some aspects of Christian meditation, no. 7, October 15, 1989)

…judges Francis’ idea on a horizontal Church

  • Basis of the Primacy of Peter among the Twelve

‘First Simon, who is called Peter’ (Mt 10:2). With this significant emphasis on the primacy of Simon Peter, St Matthew inserts in his Gospel the list of the Twelve Apostles, which also begins with the name of Simon in the other two synoptic Gospels and in Acts. This list, which has great evidential force, and other Gospel passages show clearly and simply that the New Testament canon received what Christ said about Peter and his role in the group of the Twelve. [Note 8: Evidence for the Petrine ministry is found in all the expressions, however different, of the New Testament tradition, both in the Synoptics – here with different features in Matthew and Luke, as well as in St Mark – and in the Pauline corpus and the Johannine tradition, always with original elements, differing in their narrative aspects but in profound agreement about their essential meaning. This is a sign that the Petrine reality was regarded as a constitutive given of the Church] Thus, in the early Christian communities, as later throughout the Church, the image of Peter remained fixed as that of the Apostle who, despite his human weakness, was expressly assigned by Christ to the first place among the Twelve and was called to exercise a distinctive, specific task in the Church. He is the rock on which Christ will build his Church; he is the one, after he has been converted, whose faith will not fail and who will strengthen his brethren; lastly, he is the Shepherd who will lead the whole community of the Lord’s disciples. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Primacy of the Successor Of Peter in the Mystery Of The Church, no. 3, October 31, 1998)

  • The Petrine ministry differs in its essence human governments

The exercise of the Petrine ministry must be understood – so that it ‘may lose nothing of its authenticity and transparency’ (John Paul II, Ut unum sint, n. 93) – on the basis of the Gospel, that is, on its essential place in the saving mystery of Christ and the building-up of the Church. The primacy differs in its essence and in its exercise from the offices of governance found in human societies: it is not an office of co-ordination or management, nor can it be reduced to a primacy of honour, or be conceived as a political monarchy. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Primacy of the successor of Peter in the mystery of the Church, no. 7, October 31, 1998)

…judges Francis’ vision on the divorced who re-marry

  • Pastoral solutions may not stand in opposition to the statements of the Magisterium

A series of critical objections against the doctrine and praxis of the Church pertain to questions of a pastoral nature. Some say, for example, that the language used in the ecclesial documents is too legalistic, that the rigidity of law prevails over an understanding of dramatic human situations. They claim that the human person of today is no longer able to understand such language, that Jesus would have had an open ear for the needs of people, particularly for those on the margins of society. They say that the Church, on the other hand, presents herself like a judge who excludes wounded people from the sacraments and from certain public responsibilities. One can readily admit that the Magisterium’s manner of expression does not seem very easy to understand at times. It needs to be translated by preachers and catechists into a language which relates to people and to their respective cultural environments. The essential content of the Church’s teaching, however, must be upheld in this process. It must not be watered down on allegedly pastoral grounds, because it communicates the revealed truth. Certainly, it is difficult to make the demands of the Gospel understandable to secularized people. But this pastoral difficulty must not lead to compromises with the truth. In his Encyclical Veritatis splendor, John Paul II clearly rejected so-called pastoral solutions which stand in opposition to the statements of the Magisterium (cf. ibid. 56). Furthermore, concerning the position of the Magisterium as regards the question of divorced and remarried members of the faithful, it must be stressed that the more recent documents of the Church bring together the demands of truth with those of love in a very balanced way. If at times in the past, love shone forth too little in the explanation of the truth, so today the danger is great that in the name of love, truth is either to be silenced or compromised. Assuredly, the word of truth can be painful and uncomfortable. But it is the way to holiness, to peace, and to inner freedom. A pastoral approach which truly wants to help the people concerned must always be grounded in the truth. In the end, only the truth can be pastoral. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:32). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Concerning some objections to the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion, Introduction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, no. 5, January 1, 1998)

  • Certain ecclesial functions may only be exercised by people of exemplary Christian life

There are other ecclesial functions, that presuppose a testimony of exacting Christian life, that also may not be held by the divorced who have undergone another civil marriage: liturgical service (lector, extraordinary Eucharistic minister), Catechetical service (religion teacher, catechist for first communion or confirmation), participation as a member of the diocesan pastoral or parochial council. The members of these councils should be fully inserted into the ecclesial and sacramental life, and lead, moreover, a life that is in accordance with the moral principles of the Church. Canon Law establishes that, for pastoral and diocesan council, – and this is true also for the parochial Councils – that ‘No one except members of the Christian faithful outstanding in firm faith, good morals, and prudence is to be designated to a pastoral council’ (CIC, can. 512, §3). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Concerning some objections to the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion, Introduction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, January 1, 1998)

  • The divorced ‘remarried’ cannot receive Eucharistic communion; the sacrament of Penance can be granted only under certain conditions

This view contradicts Catholic teaching that excludes the possibility of remarriage after divorce: ‘Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery’ (Mk 10:11-12) –, the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence’(Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1650). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Notification on the book ‘Just Love’. A framework for Christian Sexual Ethics by Sr. Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M, March 30, 2012)

…judges Francis’ idea on the indissolubility of marriage

  • The conditions for granting the dissolution of a marriage in favor of the faith

As it is noted, this Congregation has treated and long studied the question of the dissolution of marriage in favor of the faith. Now, finally, after a diligent examination of the problem, Pope Paul VI granted his approval to these new norms, in which are articulated the conditions for granting the dissolution of a marriage in favor of the faith, whether on the part of the petitioner who is baptized whether converted or not.
In order to validly grant the dissolution, three conditions are absolutely necessary:
a) that one of the two spouses had not received baptism throughout the entire time of the conjugal life;
b) that there was no exercise of marital life after the actual baptism received by the non-baptized party.
c) that the person who is not-baptized or baptized outside the Catholic Church allows the Catholic party the freedom and the right to profess his or her own religion and also to baptize and educate the children as Catholics: this condition is to be guaranteed, as a precautionary measure. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on the dissolution of marriage in favor of the faith, December 6, 1973)

…judges Francis’ idea comparing Catechesis with Yoga and Zen

  • The danger of fusing Christian meditation with eastern methods of ‘meditation’: abandoning the idea of the One and Triune God

With the present diffusion of eastern methods of meditation in the Christian world and in ecclesial communities, we find ourselves faced with a pointed renewal of an attempt, which is not free from dangers and errors, to fuse Christian meditation with that which is non-Christian. Proposals in this direction are numerous and radical to a greater or lesser extent. Some use eastern methods solely as a psycho-physical preparation for a truly Christian contemplation; others go further and, using different techniques, try to generate spiritual experiences similar to those described in the writings of certain Catholic mystics. Still others do not hesitate to place that absolute without image or concepts, which is proper to Buddhist theory, on the same level as the majesty of God revealed in Christ, which towers above finite reality. To this end, they make use of a ‘negative theology,’ which transcends every affirmation seeking to express what God is and denies that the things of this world can offer traces of the infinity of God. Thus they propose abandoning not only meditation on the salvific works accomplished in history by the God of the Old and New Covenant, but also the very idea of the One and Triune God, who is Love, in favor of an immersion ‘in the indeterminate abyss of the divinity.’ These and similar proposals to harmonize Christian meditation with eastern techniques need to have their contents and methods ever subjected to a thorough-going examination so as to avoid the danger of falling into syncretism. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian Meditation, no. 12,October 15, 1989)

…judges Francis’ idea on divorcees as Godparents

  • Recalling the doctrine and discipline of the Church

With respect to the aforementioned new pastoral proposals, this Congregation deems itself obliged therefore to recall the doctrine and discipline of the Church in this matter. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ (Mk 10:11-12), the Church affirms that a new union cannot be recognised as valid if the preceding marriage was valid. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried members of the faithful, no. 4, September 14, 1994)

…judges Francis’ words that it was not an offense accepting the Cross in the form of a communist symbol

  • The ideological aspects of Marxism are predominant among in the thought of many ‘theologians of liberation’

In the case of Marxism, in the particular sense given to it in this context, a preliminary critique is all the more necessary since the thought of Marx is such a global vision of reality that all data received form observation and analysis are brought together in a philosophical and ideological structure, which predetermines the significance and importance to be attached to them. The ideological principles come prior to the study of the social reality and are presupposed in it. Thus no separation of the parts of this epistemologically unique complex is possible. If one tries to take only one part, say, the analysis, one ends up having to accept the entire ideology. That is why it is not uncommon for the ideological aspects to be predominant among the things which the ‘theologians of liberation’ borrow from Marxist authors. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction on certain aspects of the “Theology of Liberation”, Libertatis nuntius, VII, no. 6, August 6, 1984)

  • It is illusory and dangerous to enter into the practice of class-struggle and of its Marxist interpretation

The warning of Paul VI remains fully valid today: Marxism as it is actually lived out poses many distinct aspects and questions for Christians to reflect upon and act on. However, it would be ‘illusory and dangerous to ignore the intimate bond which radically unites them, and to accept elements of the Marxist analysis without recognizing its connections with the ideology, or to enter into the practice of class-struggle and of its Marxist interpretation while failing to see the kind of totalitarian society to which this process slowly leads.’ (Paul VI. Octogesima Adveniens, no. 34, 1971) (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the “Theology of Liberation”, Libertatis nuntius, VII, no. 7, August 6, 1984)

  • ‘Class-struggle’ and ‘severe social conflict’: Marxist ideas which are incompatible with the Christian conception of humanity and society

It is true that Marxist thought ever since its origins, and even more so lately, has become divided and has given birth to various currents which diverge significantly from each other. To the extent that they remain fully Marxist, these currents continue to be based on certain fundamental tenets which are not compatible with the Christian conception of humanity and society. In this context, certain formulas are not neutral, but keep the meaning they had in the original Marxist doctrine. This is the case with the ‘class-struggle.’ This expression remains pregnant with the interpretation that Marx gave it, so it cannot be taken as the equivalent of ‘severe social conflict’, in an empirical sense. Those who use similar formulas, while claiming to keep only certain elements of the Marxist analysis and yet to reject the analysis taken as a whole, maintain at the very least a serious confusion in the minds of their readers. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the “Theology of Liberation”, Libertatis nuntius, VII, no. 8, August 6, 1984)

  • Atheism and the denial of the human person, his liberty and rights, are at the core of the Marxist theory

Let us recall the fact that atheism and the denial of the human person, his liberty and rights, are at the core of the Marxist theory. This theory, then, contains errors which directly threaten the truths of the faith regarding the eternal destiny of individual persons. Moreover, to attempt to integrate into theology an analysis whose criterion of interpretation depends on this atheistic conception is to involve oneself in terrible contradictions. What is more, this misunderstanding of the spiritual nature of the person leads to a total subordination of the person to the collectivity, and thus to the denial of the principles of a social and political life which is in keeping with human dignity. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the “Theology of Liberation”, Libertatis nuntius, VII, no. 9, August 6, 1984)

…judges Francis’ pro-communist ideas expressed in the Meetings with Popular Movements

  • The ‘marxist analysis’ proffers that an intolerable and explosive situation requires ‘effective action’: something that ‘cannot be put off’

Impatience and a desire for results has led certain Christians, despairing of every other method, to turn to what they call ‘marxist analysis.’ Their reasoning is this: an intolerable and explosive situation requires ‘effective action’ which cannot be put off. Effective action presupposes a ‘scientific analysis’ of the structural causes of poverty. Marxism now provides us with the means to make such an analysis, they say. Then one simply has to apply the analysis to the third-world situation, especially in Latin America. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, Ch. VII, no. 1-2, August 6, 1984)

  • A marxist axiom: class struggle is the fundamental law of history – to preach love for the poor is to maintain an illusion with bad faith to favor capitalism

It is not the ‘fact’ of social stratification with all its inequity and injustice, but the ‘theory’ of class struggle as the fundamental law of history which has been accepted by these ‘theologies of liberation’ as a principle. The conclusion is drawn that the class struggle thus understood divides the Church herself, and that in light of this struggle even ecclesial realities must be judged. The claim is even made that it would be maintaining an illusion with bad faith to propose that love in its universality can conquer what is the primary structural law of capitalism. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the “Theology of Liberation”, Ch. VII, no. 2, August 6, 1984)

  • Another marxist axiom: the ‘driving force of history’ is class struggle, bringing about the ‘self-redemption’ of man – this is opposed to the faith of the Church

According to this conception, [Marxist] the class struggle is the driving force of history. History thus becomes a central notion. It will be affirmed that God Himself makes history. It will be added that there is only one history, one in which the distinction between the history of salvation and profane history is no longer necessary. To maintain the distinction would be to fall into ‘dualism’. Affirmations such as this reflect historicist immanentism. Thus there is a tendency to identify the kingdom of God and its growth with the human liberation movement, and to make history itself the subject of its own development, as a process of the self-redemption of man by means of the class struggle. This identification is in opposition to the faith of the Church, as it has been reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. (Lumen Gentium, n.9-17) (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, Ch. IX, no. 3, August 6, 1984)

  • A political policy conceived as a purely temporal messianism – their ‘option for the poor’ with class struggle, the driving force of history

Along these lines, some go so far as to identify God Himself with history and to define faith as ‘fidelity to history’, which means adhering to a political policy which is suited to the growth of humanity, conceived as a purely temporal messianism. As a consequence, faith, hope, and charity are given a new content: they become ‘fidelity to history’, ‘confidence in the future’, and ‘option for the poor.’ This is tantamount to saying they have been emptied of their theological reality. A radical politicization of faith’s affirmations and of theological judgments follows inevitably from this new conception. The question no longer has to do with simply drawing attention to the consequences and political implications of the truths of faith, which are respected beforehand for their transcendent value. In this new system, every affirmation of faith or of theology is subordinated to a political criterion, which in turn depends on the class struggle, the driving force of history. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, Ch. IX, nos. 4-6, August 6, 1984)

  • Class struggle demands that the rich class is viewed an enemy to be fought. The love of neighbor is only for the ‘new man’, who arises out of the victorious revolution

As a result, participation in the class struggle is presented as a requirement of charity itself. The desire to love everyone here and now, despite his class, and to go out to meet him with the non-violent means of dialogue and persuasion, is denounced as counterproductive and opposed to love. If one holds that a person should not be the object of hate, it is claimed nevertheless that, if he belongs to the objective class of the rich, he is primarily a class enemy to be fought. Thus the universality of love of neighbor and brotherhood become an eschatological principle, which will only have meaning for the ‘new man’, who arises out of the victorious revolution. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, Ch. IX, no. 7, August 6, 1984)

  • The ‘theologies of liberation’ create disastrous confusion between the ‘poor’ of the Scripture and the ‘proletariat’ of Marx: fight for the rights of the poor within the ideological perspective of the class struggle

But the ‘theologies of liberation’, which reserve credit for restoring to a place of honor the great texts of the prophets and of the Gospel in defense of the poor, go on to a disastrous confusion between the ‘poor’ of the Scripture and the ‘proletariat’ of Marx. In this way they pervert the Christian meaning of the poor, and they transform the fight for the rights of the poor into a class fight within the ideological perspective of the class struggle. For them the ‘Church of the poor’ signifies the Church of the class which has become aware of the requirements of the revolutionary struggle as a step toward liberation and which celebrates this liberation in its liturgy. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the “Theology of Liberation”, Ch. IX, no. 10, August 6, 1984)

  • The ‘theologies of liberation’ seek to ‘conscientize’: the people must ‘take conscience’ that it is being oppressed in the light of the organized struggle for freedom

But the ‘theologies of liberation’ of which we are speaking, mean by ‘Church of the People’ a Church of the class, a Church of the oppressed people whom it is necessary to ‘conscientize’ in the light of the organized struggle for freedom. For some, the people, thus understood, even become the object of faith. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, Ch. IX, no. 12, August 6, 1984)

  • Communism: in the name of the liberation of the people, keeps whole nations in conditions unworthy of mankind

A major fact of our time ought to evoke the reflection of all those who would sincerely work for the true liberation of their brothers: millions of our own contemporaries legitimately yearn to recover those basic freedoms of which they were deprived by totalitarian and atheistic regimes which came to power by violent and revolutionary means, precisely in the name of the liberation of the people. This shame of our time cannot be ignored: while claiming to bring them freedom, these regimes keep whole nations in conditions of servitude which are unworthy of mankind. Those who, perhaps inadvertently, make themselves accomplices of similar enslavements betray the very poor they mean to help. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’, Ch. XI, no. 10, August 6, 1984)

…judges Francis’ ideas on faith being revolutionary

  • For centuries Christians have distinguished themselves by the fulfilment of their duties

The commitment of Christians in the world has found a variety of expressions in the course of the past 2000 years. One such expression has been Christian involvement in political life: Christians, as one Early Church writer stated, ‘play their full role as citizens’ (Letter to Diognetus, 5,5; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2240). (Congregation For The Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, no.1, November 24, 2002)

…judges Francis’ words in his first appearance

  • Specific apostolic powers are derived from the sacrament of Holy Orders

And so, even though all the baptized enjoy the same dignity before God, in the Christian community, which was deliberately structured hierarchically by its divine Founder, there have existed from its earliest days specific apostolic powers deriving from the sacrament of Holy Orders. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter Sacerdotium Ministeriale, III, no. 3, August 6, 1983)

  • The Bishop of Rome is the Successor of Peter in his primatial service in the universal Church

From the beginning and with increasing clarity, the Church has understood that, just as there is a succession of the Apostles in the ministry of Bishops, so too the ministry of unity entrusted to Peter belongs to the permanent structure of Christ’s Church and that this succession is established in the see of his martyrdom. On the basis of the New Testament witness, the Catholic Church teaches, as a doctrine of faith, that the Bishop of Rome is the Successor of Peter in his primatial service in the universal Church; this succession explains the preeminence of the Church of Rome. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the mystery of the Church, no. 3-4, October 31, 1998)

  • The Bishop of Rome has a unique sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum due to full and supreme power in the Church

All the Bishops are subjects of the sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum (Cor 11:28) as members of the Episcopal College which has succeeded to the College of the Apostles, […] In the case of the Bishop of Rome — Vicar of Christ in the way proper to Peter as Head of the College of Bishops — the sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum acquires particular force because it is combined with the full and supreme power in the Church: a truly episcopal power, not only supreme, full and universal, but also immediate, over all pastors and other faithful. The ministry of Peter’s Successor, therefore, is not a service that reaches each Church from outside, but is inscribed in the heart of each particular Church, in which ‘the Church of Christ is truly present and active’ (Vatican Council II, Christus Dominus, no. 11) and for this reason it includes openness to the ministry of unity. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Primacy of the successor of Peter in the mystery of the Church, October 31, 1988)

…judges Francis’ ideas present in Laudate Si

  • Solutions that propose a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Christ are contrary to Christian and Catholic faith

It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. Bearing in mind this article of faith, theology today, in its reflection on the existence of other religious experiences and on their meaning in God’s salvific plan, is invited to explore if and in what way the historical figures and positive elements of these religions may fall within the divine plan of salvation. In this undertaking, theological research has a vast field of work under the guidance of the Church’s Magisterium. The Second Vatican Council, in fact, has stated that: ‘the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude, but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a participation in this one source’. The content of this participated mediation should be explored more deeply, but must remain always consistent with the principle of Christ’s unique mediation: ‘Although participated forms of mediation of different kinds and degrees are not excluded, they acquire meaning and value only from Christ’s own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his’. Hence, those solutions that propose a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Christ would be contrary to Christian and Catholic faith. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 14, August 6, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea on Laudate Si

  • The mission of teaching is entrusted to the Magisterium so that all men may attain to salvation

As successors of the apostles, the bishops of the Church ‘receive from the Lord, to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth, the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain to salvation…’ They have been entrusted then with the task of preserving, explaining, and spreading the Word of God of which they are servants (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 10). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis, no. 14, May 24, 1990)

  • For this, Jesus Christ promised the assistance of the Holy Spirit to the Church’s Pastors – but there are degrees to be considered

Jesus Christ promised the assistance of the Holy Spirit to the Church’s Pastors so that they could fulfill their assigned task of teaching the Gospel and authentically interpreting Revelation. In particular, He bestowed on them the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. This charism is manifested when the Pastors propose a doctrine as contained in Revelation and can be exercised in various ways. […] Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and in a particular way, to the Roman Pontiff as Pastor of the whole Church, when exercising their ordinary Magisterium, even should this not issue in an infallible definition or in a ‘definitive’ pronouncement but in the proposal of some teaching which leads to a better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals and to moral directives derived from such teaching. One must therefore take into account the proper character of every exercise of the Magisterium, considering the extent to which its authority is engaged. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis, nos. 15; 17, May 24, 1990)

  • To be believed: what is proposed as divinely revealed either by solemn pronouncement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium; to be firmly accepted and held: to what is set forth definitively by the Magisterium regarding teaching on faith and morals

When the Magisterium of the Church makes an infallible pronouncement and solemnly declares that a teaching is found in Revelation, the assent called for is that of theological faith. This kind of adherence is to be given even to the teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium when it proposes for belief a teaching of faith as divinely revealed. When the Magisterium proposes ‘in a definitive way’ truths concerning faith and morals, which, even if not divinely revealed, are nevertheless strictly and intimately connected with Revelation, these must be firmly accepted and held. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction Donum Veritatis, no. 23, May 24, 1990)

  • An example of the ordinary and universal Magisterium that is binding is found in the ‘Instruction Donum vitae’ of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: the Magisterium does not offer opinions nor does it propose lines of dialogue, rather, by the authority of the Church, it defines the true doctrine or its application with regards to a particular question

The style of Donum vitae corresponds to that of an authentic document of the Magisterium: it continually speaks in the name and with the authority of the Church (for example these meaningful expressions are used: the intervention of the Church [introduction, 1], the Church puts forward [ibidem], the Church offers [introduction 5], the Church prohibits [part 1,5], the Church is opposed [part 2,5], the Church reminds man [conclusion]) and right from the preamble it declares that it ‘does not intend to repeat all the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life as it originates and on procreation, but to offer, in the light of the previous teaching of the Magisterium, some specific replies to the main questions being asked in this regard’ (Donum vitae, preamble). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On the Doctrinal Authority of the Instruction Donum Vitae, December 21, 1988)

  • Does that mean that they cannot be questions? On questions of interventions in the prudential order, involving contingent and conjectural elements, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies

Finally, in order to serve the People of God as well as possible, in particular, by warning them of dangerous opinions which could lead to error, the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements. […] The willingness to submit loyally to the teaching of the Magisterium on matters per se not irreformable must be the rule. It can happen, however, that a theologian may, according to the case, raise questions regarding the timeliness, the form, or even the contents of magisterial interventions. Here the theologian will need, first of all, to assess accurately the authoritativeness of the interventions which becomes clear from the nature of the documents, the insistence with which a teaching is repeated, and the very way in which it is expressed (LG, n. 25, §1). When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis, no. 24, May 24, 1990)

  • In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Cathars revived old dualistic positions, considering the material universe as evil, and constituted a real danger to the faith

At the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th a number of professions of faith had urgently to reaffirm that God is creator of beings ‘visible and invisible’, that he is the author of the two Testaments, and to specify that the devil is in no way evil by nature but by choice. The old dualistic positions enshrined in vast doctrinal and spiritual movements constituted at this time a real danger to faith, both in the South of France and Northern Italy. (Congregation for the Doctrine and the Faith. Christian Faith and Demonology, June 26, 1975)


…judges Francis’ idea that the Pope should not judge

  • The Successor of Peter has a specific ministerial grace for serving the unity of faith of the Church

The Roman Pontiff, as the Successor of Peter, is ‘the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity both of the Bishops and of the multitude of the faithful’ (Lumen gentium, n. 23) and therefore he has a specific ministerial grace for serving that unity of faith and communion which is necessary for the Church to fulfil her saving mission. 18 (Cf. Jn 17:21-23; Unitatis redintegratio, n. 1; Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi,; John Paul II, Ut unum sint, n. 98) (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the mystery of the Church, no. 4, October 31, 1988)

  • The Roman Pontiff must guarantee a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God

The exercise of the Petrine ministry must be understood – so that it ‘may lose nothing of its authenticity and transparency’ (John Paul II. Ut unum sint) – on the basis of the Gospel, that is, on its essential place in the saving mystery of Christ and the building-up of the Church. The primacy differs in its essence and in its exercise from the offices of governance found in human societies: it is not an office of co-ordination or management, nor can it be reduced to a primacy of honour, or be conceived as a political monarchy. The Roman Pontiff – like all the faithful – is subject to the Word of God, to the Catholic faith, and is the guarantor of the Church’s obedience; in this sense he is servus servorum Dei. He does not make arbitrary decisions, but is spokesman for the will of the Lord, who speaks to man in the Scriptures lived and interpreted by Tradition; in other words, the episkope of the primacy has limits set by divine law and by the Church’s divine, inviolable constitution found in Revelation (cf. Joint Declaration of the German Bishops, Jan.-Feb. 1875: Denz-Hun. 3114.) The Successor of Peter is the rock which guarantees a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God against arbitrariness and conformism: hence the martyrological nature of his primacy. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the mystery of the Church, no. 7, October 31, 1988)

  • No pastoral method with homosexuals can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts

At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people. A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable. In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life. In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God (Rom 1:24-27 – See also what Saint Paul says of ‘masculorum concubitores’ in 1Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration on certain questions concerning sexual ethics – Persona humana, no. 8, December 29, 1975)

  • Every direct violation of the moral order of sexuality is objectively serious

According to the Church’s teaching, mortal sin, which is opposed to God, does not consist only in formal and direct resistance to the commandment of charity. It is equally to be found in this opposition to authentic love which is included in every deliberate transgression, in serious matter, of each of the moral laws. Christ Himself has indicated the double commandment of love as the basis of the moral life. But on this commandment depends ‘the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’ (Mt 22:38, 40). It therefore includes the other particular precepts. In fact, to the young man who asked, ‘. . . what good deed must I do to possess eternal life?’ Jesus replied: ‘. . . if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments . . . . You must not kill. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not bring false witness. Honor your father and mother, and: you must love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mt 19:16-19). A person therefore sins mortally not only when his action comes from direct contempt for love of God and neighbor, but also when he consciously and freely, for whatever reason, chooses something which is seriously disordered. For in this choice, as has been said above, there is already included contempt for the Divine commandment: the person turns himself away from God and loses charity. Now according to Christian tradition and the Church’s teaching, and as right reason also recognizes, the moral order of sexuality involves such high values of human life that every direct violation of this order is objectively serious (cf. note 17 and 19 above Decree of the Holy Office, March 18th, 1666, DS 2060; Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 13, 14). It is true that in sins of the sexual order, in view of their kind and their causes, it more easily happens that free consent is not fully given; this is a fact which calls for caution in all judgment as to the subject’s responsibility. In this matter it is particularly opportune to recall the following words of Scripture: ‘Man looks at appearances but God looks at the heart’ (Sam 16:7). However, although prudence is recommended in judging the subjective seriousness of a particular sinful act, it in no way follows that one can hold the view that in the sexual field mortal sins are not committed. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration on certain questions concerning sexual ethics Persona humana, no. 9, December 29, 1975)

  • Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it must be seen as an objective disorder – living out of this orientation is not a morally acceptable option

Explicit treatment of the problem was given in this Congregation’s ‘Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics’ of December 29, 1975. That document stressed the duty of trying to understand the homosexual condition and noted that culpability for homosexual acts should only be judged with prudence. At the same time the Congregation took note of the distinction commonly drawn between the homosexual condition or tendency and individual homosexual actions. These were described as deprived of their essential and indispensable finality, as being ‘intrinsically disordered’, and able in no case to be approved of (cf. n. 8, 4) In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the bishops of the Catholic church on the Pastoral Care of Homesexual Persons Homosexualitatis problema, no. 3, October 1, 1986)

  • The Church rejects erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality

As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homesexual Persons Homosexualitatis problema, no. 7, October 1, 1986)

  • Protecting those who have no intention of abandoning their homosexual behavior is opposed to the teachings of the Church

Thus, the Church’s teaching today is in organic continuity with the Scriptural perspective and with her own constant Tradition. Though today’s world is in many ways quite new, the Christian community senses the profound and lasting bonds which join us to those generations who have gone before us, ‘marked with the sign of faith’. Nevertheless, increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity. Those within the Church who argue in this fashion often have close ties with those with similar views outside it. These latter groups are guided by a vision opposed to the truth about the human person, which is fully disclosed in the mystery of Christ. They reflect, even if not entirely consciously, a materialistic ideology which denies the transcendent nature of the human person as well as the supernatural vocation of every individual. The Church’s ministers must ensure that homosexual persons in their care will not be misled by this point of view, so profoundly opposed to the teaching of the Church. But the risk is great and there are many who seek to create confusion regarding the Church’s position, and then to use that confusion to their own advantage. The movement within the Church, which takes the form of pressure groups of various names and sizes, attempts to give the impression that it represents all homosexual persons who are Catholics. As a matter of fact, its membership is by and large restricted to those who either ignore the teaching of the Church or seek somehow to undermine it. It brings together under the aegis of Catholicism homosexual persons who have no intention of abandoning their homosexual behaviour. One tactic used is to protest that any and all criticism of or reservations about homosexual people, their activity and lifestyle, are simply diverse forms of unjust discrimination. There is an effort in some countries to manipulate the Church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil-statutes and laws. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homesexual Persons Homosexualitatis problema, nos. 8-9, October 1, 1986)

  • Homosexual orientation is an objective disorder evoking moral concern

‘Sexual orientation’ does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination. Unlike these, homosexual orientation is an objective disorder (cf. Letter Homosexualitatis problema, no. 3) and evokes moral concern. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons, no. 10, July 23, 1992)

  • Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered – this same moral judgment is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition

There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts ‘close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved’. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2357). Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts ‘as a serious depravity’… (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1Cor 6:10; 1Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.  (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Persona humana). This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries (cf., for example, Saint Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians, V, 3; Saint Justin Martyr, First Apology, 27, 1-4; Athenagoras, Supplication for the Christians, 34.) and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons, no. 4, June 3, 2003)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Church reduced to a minority

  • The necessity of conversion and adherence to the Church through Baptism

Indeed, the Church, guided by charity and respect for freedom, must be primarily committed to proclaiming to all people the truth definitively revealed by the Lord, and to announcing the necessity of conversion to Jesus Christ and of adherence to the Church through Baptism and the other sacraments, in order to participate fully in communion with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 22, August 6, 2000)

  • The love which impels the Church to communicate to all a sharing in divine life also causes her to pursue true temporal good

The Church’s essential mission, following that of Christ, is a mission of evangelization and salvation. She draws her zeal from the divine love. Evangelization is the proclamation of salvation, which is a gift of God. […] But the love which impels the Church to communicate to all people a sharing in the grace of divine life also causes her, through the effective action of her members, to pursue people’s true temporal good, help them in their needs, provide for their education and promote an integral liberation from everything that hinders the development of individuals. The Church desires the good of man in all his dimensions, first of all as a member of the city of God, and then as a member of the earthly city. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Libertatis conscientia, no. 63, March 22, 1986)

…judges Francis’ idea on Communism

  • Formal prohibition to join or favor Communist Parties – latae sententiae excommunication

Questions:
1. Whether it is lawful to join Communist Parties or to favour them;
2. whether it is lawful to publish, disseminate, or read books, periodicals, newspapers or leaflets which support the teaching or action of Communists, or to write in them;
3. whether the faithful who knowingly and freely perform the acts specified in questions 1 and 2 may be admitted to the Sacraments;
4. whether the faithful who profess the materialistic and anti-Christian doctrine of the Communists, and particularly those who defend or propagate this doctrine, contract ipso facto excommunication specially reserved to the Apostolic See as apostates from the Catholic faith.

The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Fathers entrusted with the supervision of matters concerning the safeguarding of Faith and morals, having previously heard the opinion of the Reverend Lords Consultors, decreed in the plenary session held on Tuesday (instead of Wednesday), June 28, 1949, that the answers should be as follows:
To 1. in the negative: because Communism is materialistic and anti-Christian; and the leaders of the Communists, although they sometimes profess in words that they do not oppose religion, do in fact show themselves, both in their teaching and in their actions, to be the enemies of God, of the true religion and of the Church of Christ;
to
2. in the negative: they are prohibited ipso iure (cf. Can. 1399 of the Codex Iuris Canonici);
to 3. in the negative, in accordance with the ordinary principles concerning the refusal of the Sacraments to those who are not disposed;
to 4. in the affirmative. (Replies confirmed by Pius XII on June 30) (Denzinger-Hünermann 3865. Decree of the Holy Office, July 1, 1949)

  • Communism: shame of our time – while claiming to bring them freedom keeps whole nations in servitude

Millions of our own contemporaries legitimately yearn to recover those basic freedoms of which they were deprived by totalitarian and atheistic regimes which came to power by violent and revolutionary means, precisely in the name of the liberation of the people. This shame of our time cannot be ignored: while claiming to bring them freedom, these regimes keep whole nations in conditions of servitude which are unworthy of mankind. Those who, perhaps inadvertently, make themselves accomplices of similar enslavements betray the very poor they mean to help. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instruction on certain aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation,’ ch. XI, no. 10, August 6, 1984)

…judges Francis’ idea on the immortality of the soul

  • The soul subsists after death

The Sacred Congregation, whose task is to advance and protect the doctrine of the faith, here wishes to recall what the Church teaches in the name of Christ, especially concerning what happens between the death of the Christian and the general resurrection. […] The Church affirms that a spiritual element survives and subsists after death, an element endowed with consciousness and will, so that the ‘human self’ subsists. To designate this element, the Church uses the word ‘soul’, the accepted term in the usage of Scripture and Tradition. Although not unaware that this term has various meanings in the Bible, the Church thinks that there is no valid reason for rejecting it; moreover, she considers that the use of some word as a vehicle is absolutely indispensable in order to support the faith of Christians. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on certain questions containing eschatology – Recentiores episcoporum Synodi, May 17, 1979)

  • The Church believes in both the happiness of the just and in eternal punishment for the sinner

In fidelity to the New Testament and Tradition, the Church believes in the happiness of the just who will one day be with Christ. She believes that there will be eternal punishment for the sinner, who will be deprived of the sight of God, and that this punishment will have a repercussion on the whole being of the sinner. […] Christians must firmly hold the two following essential points: on the one hand they must believe in the fundamental continuity, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, between our present life in Christ and the future life (charity is the law of the Kingdom of God and our charity on earth will be the measure of our sharing in God’s glory in heaven); on the other hand they must be clearly aware of the radical break between the present life and the future one, due to the fact that the economy of faith will be replaced by the economy of fullness of life: we shall be with Christ and ‘we shall see God’ (cf. 1Jn 3:2), and it is in these promises and marvellous mysteries that our hope essentially consists. Our imagination may be incapable of reaching these heights, but our heart does so instinctively and completely. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on certain questions containing eschatology – Recentiores episcoporum synodi, May 17, 1979)

…judges Francis’ idea on the role of non-christian religions

  • Theological faith must be differentiated from belief in the other religions

For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions, must be firmly held. […] This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, no. 7, August 6, 2000)

  • Other rituals contain superstitions and errors -they constitute an obstacle to salvation

Indeed, some prayers and rituals of the other religions may assume a role of preparation for the Gospel, in that they are occasions or pedagogical helps in which the human heart is prompted to be open to the action of God (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 843.) One cannot attribute to these, however, a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments (cf. Council of Trent, Decretum de sacramentis, can. 8, de sacramentis in genere). Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they depend on superstitions or other errors (cf. 1Cor 10:20-21), constitute an obstacle to salvation (cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris missio, 55). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, no. 21 August 6, 2000)

  • Relativistic theories deny the salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church

The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, […] the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, […] On the basis of such presuppositions, which may evince different nuances, certain theological proposals are developed — at times presented as assertions, and at times as hypotheses — in which Christian revelation and the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church lose their character of absolute truth and salvific universality, or at least shadows of doubt and uncertainty are cast upon them. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, no. 4, August 6, 2000)

  • Non-Christians are in a gravely deficient situation regarding salvation

This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism ‘characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another’ (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 36). If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation (cf. Pius XII. Encyclical Letter Mystici corporis). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, no. 22, August 6, 2000)

  • Men are not saved equally in every religion

Therefore, no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth. […] [Pius XII] mentions those who ‘are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire,’ and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation, but on the other hand states that they are in a condition ‘in which they cannot be sure of their salvation’ since ‘they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church’ With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally well in every religion (cf. Pius IX, Allocution Singulari quadam, in Denzinger, n.1641 ff.; also Pius IX in the encyclical letter Quanto conficiamur moerore, in Denzinger n.1677). (Denzinger-Hünermann 3867.3871-3872. Letter of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Boston, August 8, 1949)

…judges Francis’ idea on religious liberty

  • The only Church of Christ is the Catholic Church

The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1 ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). […] The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: ‘This is the single Church of Christ… which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth’ (1 Tim 3:15). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church, IV, 16)

…judges Francis’ idea on knowing God’s will from the people

  • Not all ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith

Actually, the opinions of the faithful cannot be purely and simply identified with the sensus fidei (Cc. John Paul. II, Familiaris consortio, n. 5). The sense of the faith is a property of theological faith; and, as God’s gift which enables one to adhere personally to the Truth, it cannot err. This personal faith is also the faith of the Church since God has given guardianship of the Word to the Church. Consequently, what the believer believes is what the Church believes. The sensus fidei implies then by its nature a profound agreement of spirit and heart with the Church, sentire cum Ecclesia.

Although theological faith as such then cannot err, the believer can still have erroneous opinions since all his thoughts do not spring from faith (cf. Council of Trent, sess. VI, cap. 9: fides cui non potest subesse falsum; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh, II-II, q.1, a.3, ad 3). Not all the ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith. This is all the more so given that people can be swayed by a public opinion influenced by modern communications media. Not without reason did the Second Vatican Council emphasize the indissoluble bond between the sensus fidei and the guidance of God’s People by the magisterium of the Pastors. These two realities cannot be separated (cf. Lumen gentium, 12). Magisterial interventions serve to guarantee the Church’s unity in the truth of the Lord. They aid her to ‘abide in the truth’ in face of the arbitrary character of changeable opinions and are an expression of obedience to the Word of God (cf. Dei Verbum, 10). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on the ecclesial vocation of the theologian Donum veritatis, no. 35, May 24, 1990)

…judges Francis’ idea on the essence of divinity

  • The Church proclaims the true mystery of God

The Church’s universal mission is born from the command of Jesus Christ and is fulfilled in the course of the centuries in the proclamation of the mystery of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the mystery of the incarnation of the Son, as saving event for all humanity. The fundamental contents of the profession of the Christian faith are expressed thus:I believe in one God, the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made (I Council of Constantinople, symbolum constantinopolitanum: DS 150).” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 1)

…judges Francis’ idea on the flesh of Christ and poverty as a theological category

  • Jesus came to call to conversion including the rich – the poverty He declared blessed is made up of detachment

But he also wished to be near to those who, though rich in the goods of this world, were excluded from the community as ‘publicans and sinners’, for he had come to call them to conversion (cf. Lk 19:1-10; Mk 2:13-17). It is this sort of poverty, made up of detachment, trust in God, sobriety and a readiness to share, that Jesus declared blessed. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Instruction Libertatis Conscientia, no. 66, March 22, 1986)

  • Preference given to the poor, without exclusion

In its positive meaning the ‘Church of the poor’ signifies the preference given to the poor, without exclusion, whatever the form of their poverty, because they are preferred by God. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Libertatis nuntius, on certain aspects of the ‘Liberation Theology’, no. 9)

  • The temptation to reduce the Gospel to an earthly gospel

The different theologies of liberation are situated between the ‘preferential option for the poor’, forcefully reaffirmed without ambiguity after Medellin at the Conference of ‘Puebla’ (cf. ‘Gaudium et Spes’, n.39; Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno) on the one hand, and the temptation to reduce the Gospel to an earthly gospel on the other. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Libertatis nuntius, on certain aspects of the ‘Theology Liberation’, no. 5)

  • Option for the poor: far from being a sign of particularism – cannot be expressed by reductive sociological and ideological categories

The special option for the poor, far from being a sign of particularism or sectarianism, manifests the universality of the Church’s being and mission. This option excludes no one. This is the reason why the Church cannot express this option by means of reductive sociological and ideological categories which would make this preference a partisan choice and a source of conflict. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, Libertatis Conscientia, no. 68)

…judges Francis’ idea on the faith in God

  • The differences between Christianity and the other religions cannot be minimized

For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions, must be firmly held. If faith is the acceptance in grace of revealed truth, which “makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently”, then belief, in the other religions, is that sum of experience and thought that constitutes the human treasury of wisdom and religious aspiration, which man in his search for truth has conceived and acted upon in his relationship to God and the Absolute. This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, August 6, 2000)

…judges the act of seeking blessings from heretics and schismatics

  • In no way to be tolerated: that the clergy or faithful pray for Christian unity under the leadership of heretics

Surely nothing should be preferable to a Catholic man than that schisms and dissensions among Christians be torn out by the roots and that all Christians be ‘careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Eph 4:3)… But, that the faithful of Christ and the clergy should pray for Christian unity under the leadership of heretics, and, what is worse, according to an intention, polluted and infected as much as possible with heresy, can in no way be tolerated. (Denzinger-Hünermann 2887. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the bishops of England, September 16, 1864)

…judges Francis’ idea on communion to divorced in second union

  • Communion for divorced persons in second union openly contradicts the Church’s teaching

Members of the faithful who live together as husband and wife with persons other than their legitimate spouses may not receive Holy Communion. Should they judge it possible to do so, pastors and confessors, given the gravity of the matter and the spiritual good of these persons (cf. 1Cor 11:27-29) as well as the common good of the Church, have the serious duty to admonish them that such a judgment of conscience openly contradicts the Church’s teaching (cf. Code of Canon Law, 978 §2). (Joseph Ratzinger. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried members of the faithful, September 14, 1994)

…judges Francis’ idea on the incapacity of the Church to resolve the crisis of the family

  • However great the difficulties, Bishops must instruct the faithful in the moral teaching

It is up to the Bishops to instruct the faithful in the moral teaching concerning sexual morality, however great may be the difficulties in carrying out this work in the face of ideas and practices generally prevailing today. This traditional doctrine must be studied more deeply. It must be handed on in a way capable of properly enlightening the consciences of those confronted with new situations. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Persona Humana, no. 13, December 29, 1975)

…judges Francis’ idea on the harmony among good and evil

  • Outside the truth no real union can ever be attained

Therefore the whole and entire Catholic doctrine is to be presented and explained: by no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth regarding the nature and way of justification, […] because outside the truth no true union can ever be attained. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Ecclesia Catholica, December 20, 1949)

…judges Francis’ idea on the evils in our times

  • Anguish at the urgency of problems cannot blur what is essential: man does not live on bread alone, but on God’s Word

The feeling of anguish at the urgency of the problems cannot make us lose sight of what is essential nor forget the reply of Jesus to the Tempter: ‘It is not on bread alone that man lives, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Deut 8:3). Faced with the urgency of sharing bread, some are tempted to put evangelization into parentheses, as it were, and postpone it until tomorrow: first the bread, then the Word of the Lord. It is a fatal error to separate these two and even worse to oppose the one to the other. In fact, the Christian perspective naturally shows they have a great deal to do with one another (cf. GS, 39; Pius XI, Quad. Anno). To some it even seems that the necessary struggle for human justice and freedom in the economic and political sense constitutes the whole essence of salvation. For them, the Gospel is reduced to a purely earthly gospel. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Certain Aspects of the Liberation Theology, August 6, 1984)

…judges Francis’ idea on absolute truth

  • One should not avoid placing emphasis on the absolute character of the Christian Truth

The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). […] On the basis of such presuppositions, which may evince different nuances, certain theological proposals are developed — at times presented as assertions, and at times as hypotheses — in which Christian revelation and the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church lose their character of absolute truth and salvific universality, or at least shadows of doubt and uncertainty are cast upon them. […] Not infrequently it is proposed that theology should avoid the use of terms like ‘unicity’, ‘universality’, and ‘absoluteness’, which give the impression of excessive emphasis on the significance and value of the salvific event of Jesus Christ in relation to other religions. In reality, however, such language is simply being faithful to revelation, since it represents a development of the sources of the faith themselves. From the beginning, the community of believers has recognized in Jesus a salvific value such that he alone, as Son of God made man, crucified and risen, by the mission received from the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit, bestows revelation (cf. Mt 11:27) and divine life (cf. Jn 1:12; 5:25-26; 17:2) to all humanity and to every person.

In this sense, one can and must say that Jesus Christ has a significance and a value for the human race and its history, which are unique and singular, proper to him alone, exclusive, universal, and absolute. Jesus is, in fact, the Word of God made man for the salvation of all. In expressing this consciousness of faith, the Second Vatican Council teaches: ‘The Word of God, through whom all things were made, was made flesh, so that as perfect man he could save all men and sum up all things in himself. The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the desires of history and civilization, the centre of mankind, the joy of all hearts, and the fulfilment of all aspirations. It is he whom the Father raised from the dead, exalted and placed at his right hand, constituting him judge of the living and the dead’.45 ‘It is precisely this uniqueness of Christ which gives him an absolute and universal significance whereby, while belonging to history, he remains history’s centre and goal: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’ (Rev 22:13)’ (John Paul II, Redemptoris missio, 6).
[Note 45: Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 45. The necessary and absolute singularity of Christ in human history is well expressed by Saint Irenaeus in contemplating the preeminence of Jesus as firstborn Son: ‘In the heavens, as firstborn of the Father’s counsel, the perfect Word governs and legislates all things; on the earth, as firstborn of the Virgin, a man just and holy, reverencing God and pleasing to God, good and perfect in every way, he saves from hell all those who follow him since he is the firstborn from the dead and Author of the life of God’ (Demonstratio apostolica, 39: SC 406, 138)] (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, August 6, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea on God

  • Consequences of denying the plenitude of the Catholic Religion

The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, no. 4, August 6, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea on the harmony of all christian faiths

  • The true Church of Christ is not a kind of collection of churches and ecclesial communities

But at the same time Catholics are bound to profess that through the gift of God’s mercy they belong to that Church which Christ founded and which is governed by the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, who are the depositories of the original Apostolic tradition, living and intact, which is the permanent heritage of doctrine and holiness of that same Church (cf. Paul VI – Ecclesiam Suam, AAS 56 (1964): 629). The followers of Christ are therefore not permitted to imagine that Christ’s Church is nothing more than a collection (divided, but still possessing a certain unity) of Churches and ecclesial communities. Nor are they free to hold that Christ’s Church nowhere really exists today and that it is to be considered only as an end which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, June 24, 1973)

…judges Francis’ idea on clarity and doctrinal security

  • The People of God should deepen their faith by means of reflection

In order to exercise the prophetic function in the world, the People of God must continually reawaken or ‘rekindle’ its own life of faith (cf. 2Tim 1:6). It does this particularly by contemplating ever more deeply, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the contents of the faith itself and by dutifully presenting the reasonableness of the faith to those who ask for an account of it (cf. 1Pet 3:15). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Veritatis,  no. 5, March 24, 1990)

  • Faith invites reason to penetrate more profoundly

By its nature, faith appeals to reason because it reveals to man the truth of his destiny and the way to attain it. Revealed truth, to be sure, surpasses our telling. All our concepts fall short of its ultimately unfathomable grandeur (cf. Eph 3:19). Nonetheless, revealed truth beckons reason – God’s gift fashioned for the assimilation of truth – to enter into its light and thereby come to understand in a certain measure what it has believed. Theological science responds to the invitation of truth as it seeks to understand the faith. It thereby aids the People of God in fulfilling the Apostle’s command (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) to give an accounting for their hope to those who ask it. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Veritatis, no. 5, March 24, 1990)

…judges Francis’ relations with  ‘ordained’ women of the christian churches

  • Excommunication latae sententiae for the attempt of feminine ‘priestly ordination’

In order to protect the nature and validity of the sacrament of order, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in virtue of the special faculty given by the supreme authority of the Church (cf. can. 30, Code of Canon Law), in the Ordinary Session of 19 December 2007, has decreed: Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, both the one who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive a sacred order, incur an excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See. If, in fact, the one who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, or the woman who attempts to receive a sacred order, is one of Christ’s faithful subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, that person, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1443 of the same Code, is to be punished with a major excommunication, the remission of which is also reserved to the Apostolic See (cf. can. 1423, Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, General Decree regarding the delict attempted sacred ordination of a woman, December 19, 2007)

  • The Church does not consider Herself authorized to accept women through priestly ordination

For some years now various Christian communities stemming from the sixteenth-century Reformation or of later origin have been admitting women to the pastoral office on a par with men. This initiative has led to petitions and writings by members of these communities and similar groups, directed towards making this admission a general thing; it has also led to contrary reactions. This therefore constitutes an ecumenical problem, and the Catholic Church must make her thinking known on it, all the more because in various sectors of opinion the question has been asked whether she too could not modify her discipline and admit women to priestly ordination. A number of Catholic theologians have even posed this question publicly, evoking studies not only in the sphere of exegesis, patrology and Church history but also in the field of the history of institutions and customs, of sociology and of psychology. The various arguments capable of clarifying this important problem have been submitted to a critical examination. As we are dealing with a debate which classical theology scarcely touched upon, the current argumentation runs the risk of neglecting essential elements. For these reasons, in execution of a mandate received from the Holy Father and echoing the declaration which he himself made in his letter of 30 November 1975, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges it necessary to recall that the Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Inter Insigniores, Introduction, October 15, 1976)

  • The Church has never accepted the priestly or episcopal ordination of women

The Catholic Church has never felt that priestly or episcopal ordination can be validly conferred on women. A few heretical sects in the first centuries, especially Gnostic ones, entrusted the exercise of the priestly ministry to women: This innovation was immediately noted and condemned by the Fathers, who considered it as unacceptable in the Church. It is true that in the writings of the Fathers, one will find the undeniable influence of prejudices unfavourable to woman, but nevertheless, it should be noted that these prejudices had hardly any influences on their pastoral activity, and still less on their spiritual direction. But over and above these considerations inspired by the spirit of the times, one finds expressed – especially in the canonical documents of the Antiochan and Egyptian traditions – this essential reason, namely, that by calling only men to the priestly Order and ministry in its true sense, the Church intends to remain faithful to the type of ordained ministry willed by the Lord Jesus Christ and carefully maintained by the Apostles. The same conviction animates medieval theology, even if the Scholastic doctors, in their desire to clarify by reason the data of faith, often present arguments on this point that modern thought would have difficulty in admitting, or would even rightly reject. Since that period and up till our own time, it can be said that the question has not been raised again for the practice has enjoyed peaceful and universal acceptance. The Church’s tradition in the matter has thus been so firm in the course of the centuries that the Magisterium has not felt the need to intervene in order to formulate a principle which was not attacked, or to defend a law which was not challenged. But each time that this tradition had the occasion to manifest itself, it witnessed to the Church’s desire to conform to the model left her by the Lord. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Inter Insigniores, no. 1, October 15, 1976)

  • Could the Church today depart from the attitude of Jesus and the Apostles?

Jesus Christ did not call any women to become part of the Twelve. If he acted in this way, it was not in order to conform to the customs of his time, for his attitude towards women was quite different from that of his milieu, and he deliberately and courageously broke with it. […] Could the Church today depart from this attitude of Jesus and the Apostles, which has been considered as normative by the whole of tradition up to our own day? Various arguments have been put forward in favour of a positive reply to this question, and these must now be examined. It has been claimed in particular that the attitude of Jesus and the Apostles is explained by the influence of their milieu and their times. It is said that, if Jesus did not entrust to women and not even to his Mother a ministry assimilating them to the Twelve, this was because historical circumstances did not permit him to do so. No one however has ever proved- and it is clearly impossible to prove- that this attitude is inspired only by social and cultural reasons. As we have seen, and examination of the Gospels shows on the contrary that Jesus broke with the prejudices of his time, by widely contravening the discriminations practiced with regard to women. One therefore cannot maintain that, by not calling women to enter the group of the Apostles, Jesus was simply letting himself be guided by reasons of expediency. For all the more reason, social and cultural conditioning did not hold back the Apostles working in the Greek milieu, where the same forms of discrimination did not exist. Another objection is based upon the transitory character that one claims to see today in some of the prescriptions of Saint Paul concerning women, and upon the difficulties that some aspects of his teaching raise in this regard. But it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1Cor 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value. However, the Apostle’s forbidding of women to speak in the assemblies (1Cor 14:34-35; 1Ti 2:12) is of a different nature, and exegetes define its meaning in this way: Paul in no way opposes the right, which he elsewhere recognizes as possessed by women, to prophesy in the assembly (1Cor 11:15); the prohibition solely concerns the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly. For Saint Paul this prescription is bound up with the divine plan of creation (1Cor 11:7; Gen 2:18-24): it would be difficult to see in it the expression of a cultural fact. Nor should it be forgotten that we owe to Saint Paul one of the most vigorous texts in the New Testament on the fundamental equality of men and women, as children of God in Christ (Gal 3:28). Therefore there is no reason for accusing him of prejudices against women, when we note the trust that he shows towards them and the collaboration that he asks of them in his apostolate. […] Adaptations to civilizations and times therefore cannot abolish on essential points, the sacramental reference to constitutive events of Christianity and to Christ himself. In the final analysis it is the Church through the voice of the Magisterium, that, in these various domains, decides what can change and what must remain immutable. When she judges she cannot accept certain changes, it is because she knows she is bound by Christ’s manner of acting. Her attitude, despite appearances, is therefore not one of archaism but of fidelity: it can be truly understood only in this light. The Church makes pronouncements in virtue of the Lord’s promise and the presence of the Holy Spirit, in order to proclaim better the mystery of Christ and to safeguard and manifest the whole of its rich content. The practice of the Church therefore has a normative character: in the fact of conferring priestly ordination only on men, it is a question of unbroken tradition throughout the history of the Church, universal in the East and in the West, and alert to repress abuses immediately. This norm, based on Christ’s example, has been and is still observed because it is considered to conform to God’s plan for his Church. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Inter Insigniores, no. 2/4, October 15, 1976)

  • Women can play a role within ecclesial life without being priests

In entrusting his mother to the Apostle John, Jesus on the Cross invites his Church to learn from Mary the secret of the love that is victorious. Far from giving the Church an identity based on an historically conditioned model of femininity, the reference to Mary, with her dispositions of listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting, places the Church in continuity with the spiritual history of Israel. In Jesus and through him, these attributes become the vocation of every baptized Christian. […] In this way, women play a role of maximum importance in the Church’s life by recalling these dispositions to all the baptized and contributing in a unique way to showing the true face of the Church, spouse of Christ and mother of believers. In this perspective one understands how the reservation of priestly ordination solely to men does not hamper in any way women’s access to the heart of Christian life. Women are called to be unique examples and witnesses for all Christians of how the Bride is to respond in love to the love of the Bridegroom. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops on the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world, July 31, 2004)

  • That the Church may not ordain women belongs to the deposit of the faith

Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.

Responsum: Affirmative.

This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responsum ad propositum dubium concerning the teaching contained in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, October 28, 1995)

  • There is no contradiction between the dignity of women and exclusively masculine priesthood

But in any case it cannot be forgotten that the Church teaches, as an absolutely fundamental truth of Christian anthropology, the equal personal dignity of men and women, and the necessity of overcoming and doing away with ‘every type of discrimination regarding fundamental rights’ (Gaudium et Spes, 29). It is in the light of this truth that one can seek to understand better the teaching that women cannot receive priestly ordination. A correct theology can prescind neither from one nor from the other of these doctrines, but must hold the two together; only thus will it be able to deepen our comprehension of God’s plan regarding woman and regarding the priesthood – and hence, regarding the mission of woman in the Church. If however, perhaps by allowing oneself to be conditioned too much by the ways and spirit of the age, one should assert that a contradiction exists between these two truths, the way of progress in the intelligence of the faith would be lost. […] Furthermore, to understand that this teaching implies no injustice or discrimination against women, one has to consider the nature of the ministerial priesthood itself, which is a service and not a position of privilege or human power over others. Whoever, man or woman, conceives of the priesthood in terms of personal affirmation, as a goal or point of departure in a career of human success, is profoundly mistaken, for the true meaning of Christian priesthood, whether it be the common priesthood of the faithful or, in a most special way, the ministerial priesthood, can only be found in the sacrifice of one’s own being in union with Christ, in service of the brethren. Priestly ministry constitutes neither the universal ideal nor, even less, the goal of Christian life. In this connection, it is helpful to recall once again that ‘the only higher gift, which can and must be desired, is charity (cf. 1Cor 12-13)’ (Inter Insigniores, VI). […] Here, however, we find ourselves before the essential interdependence of Holy Scripture and Tradition, an interdependence which makes of these two forms of the transmission of the Gospel an unbreakable unity with the Magisterium, which is an integral part of Tradition and is entrusted with the authentic interpretation of the Word of God, written and handed down (Dei Verbum, 9 and 10). In the specific case of priestly ordination, the successors of the Apostles have always observed the norm of conferring it only on men, and the Magisterium, assisted by the Holy Spirit, teaches us that this did not occur by chance, habitual repetition, subjection to sociological conditioning, or even less because of some imaginary inferiority of women; but rather because ‘the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial norm her Lord’s way of acting in choosing the twelve men whom he made the foundation of his Church’ (Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis n. 2). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Concerning the reply of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the teaching contained in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, October 28, 1995)

  • The pastoral attitude of the bishops in relating with members of Christian Churches

As regards the manner and method of proceeding in this work, the Bishops themselves will make regulations as to what is to be done and what is to be avoided, and shall see that these are observed by all. They shall also be on guard lest, on the false pretext that more attention should be paid to the points on which we agree than to those on which we differ, a dangerous indifferentism be encouraged, especially among persons whose training in theology is not deep and whose practice of their faith is not very strong. For care must be taken lest, in the so-called ‘irenic’ spirit of today, through comparative study and the vain desire for a progressively closer mutual approach among the various professions of faith, Catholic doctrine-either in its; dogmas or in the truths which are connected with them-be so conformed or in a way adapted to the doctrines of dissident sects, that the purity of Catholic doctrine be impaired, or its genuine and certain meaning be obscured. Also they must restrain that dangerous manner of speaking which generates false opinions and fallacious hopes incapable of realization; for example, to the effect that the teachings of the Encyclicals of the Roman Pontiffs on the return of dissidents to the Church, on the constitution of the Church, on the Mystical Body of Christ, should not be given too much importance seeing that they are not all matters of faith, or, what is worse, that in matters of dogma even the Catholic Church has not yet attained the fullness of Christ, but can still be perfected from outside. They shall take particular care and shall firmly insist that, in going over the history of the Reformation and the Reformers the defects of Catholics be not so exaggerated and the faults of the Reformers be so dissimulated, or that things which are rather accidental be not so emphasized, that what is most essential, namely the defection from the Catholic faith, be scarcely any longer seen or felt. Finally, they shall take precautions lest, through an excessive and false external activity, or through imprudence and an excited manner of proceeding, the end in view be rather harmed than served. Therefore the whole and entire Catholic doctrine is to be presented and explained: by no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth regarding the nature and way of justification, the constitution of the Church, the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, and the only true union by the return of the dissidents to the one true Church of Christ. It should be made clear to them that, in returning to the Church, they will lose nothing of that good which by the grace of God has hitherto been implanted in them, but that it will rather be supplemented and completed by their return. However, one should not speak of this in such a way that they will imagine that in returning to the Church they are bringing to it something substantial which it has hitherto lacked. It will be necessary to say these things clearly and openly, first because it is the truth that they themselves are seeking, and moreover because outside the truth no true union can ever be attained. (Instruction Ecclesia Catholica of the Holy Office, December 20, 1949)

  • The authentic ecumenical task requires complete clarity in the presentation of the faith

Finally, there have been some commentaries on the Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis which have suggested that the document constitutes an additional and inopportune obstacle on the already difficult path of ecumenism. In this regard, it should not be forgotten that according to both the letter and the spirit of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio , 11), the authentic ecumenical task, to which the Catholic Church is unequivocally and permanently committed, requires complete sincerity and clarity in the presentation of one’s own faith. Furthermore, it should be noted that the doctrine reaffirmed by the Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis cannot but further the pursuit of full communion with the Orthodox Churches which, in fidelity to Tradition, have maintained and continue to maintain the same teaching. The singular originality of the Church and of the priestly ministry within the Church requires a precise clarity of criteria. 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 labors, 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, Concerning the reply of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the teaching contained in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, October 28, 1995)

  • Relativistic theories seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure

The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church. The roots of these problems are to be found in certain presuppositions of both a philosophical and theological nature, which hinder the understanding and acceptance of the revealed truth. Some of these can be mentioned: the conviction of the elusiveness and inexpressibility of divine truth, even by Christian revelation; relativistic attitudes toward truth itself, according to which what is true for some would not be true for others; the radical opposition posited between the logical mentality of the West and the symbolic mentality of the East; the subjectivism which, by regarding reason as the only source of knowledge, becomes incapable of raising its ‘gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being;  the difficulty in understanding and accepting the presence of definitive and eschatological events in history; the metaphysical emptying of the historical incarnation of the Eternal Logos, reduced to a mere appearing of God in history; the eclecticism of those who, in theological research, uncritically absorb ideas from a variety of philosophical and theological contexts without regard for consistency, systematic connection, or compatibility with Christian truth; finally, the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 4, August 6, 2000)

  • A truth of faith that must be firmly believed: the unicity of the Church founded by Christ

The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5).  Therefore, the fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27), which is his body (cf. 1Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18).And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single ‘whole Christ’. This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9). Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: ‘a single Catholic and apostolic Church.’ Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church — like everything that belongs to the Church’s integrity — will never be lacking. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 16, August 6, 2000)

  • Ecclesial Christian Communities that have not conserved the valid Episcopate may not be truly considered a Church

Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church. On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 17, August 6, 2000)

…judges Francis’ idea on the teaching of moral issues

  • Silence is neither caring nor pastoral

But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons, no. 15, October 1, 1986)

…judges Francis’ idea that the Church should not be a Point of Reference

  • Christ and the Church are inseparable

The Lord Jesus, the only Savior, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5).  Therefore, the fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27), which is his body (cf. 1Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18). And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single ‘whole Christ’. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Jesus, no. 16, August 6, 2000)

  • The people of God must be informed regarding true doctrine

But by divine institution it is the exclusive task of these pastors alone, the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, to teach the faithful authentically, that is with the authority of Christ shared in different ways; […] The People of God has particular need of the intervention and assistance of the Magisterium when internal disagreements arise and spread concerning a doctrine that must be believed or held, lest it lose the communion of the one faith in the one Body of the Lord (cf. Eph 4:4, 5). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, no. 2, June 24, 1973)

 …judges Francis’ idea on the access to the sacraments

  • Concrete application of the prohibition of Communion for divorced persons in second union

If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1650).This norm is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion: ‘They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and his Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage’ (Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, n. 84: AAS 74 (1982) 185-186).  (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops concerning the reception of the Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried members of the faithful, no.4, September 14, 1994)

…judges Francis’ idea on Ascetism and silence in the Spiritual Exercises

  • A positive form of liberty is not possible without asceticism

The seeking of God through prayer has to be preceded and accompanied by an ascetical struggle and a purification from one’s own sins and errors, since Jesus has said that only ‘the pure of heart shall see God’ (Mt 5:8). […] The passions are not negative in themselves (as the Stoics and Neo-Platonist thought), but their tendency is to selfishness. It is from this that the Christian has to free himself in order to arrive at that state of positive freedom which in classical Christian times was called ‘apatheia,’ in the Middle Ages ‘impassibilitas’ and in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises ‘indiferencia.’ This is impossible without a radical self-denial, as can also be seen in Saint Paul who openly uses the word ‘mortification’ (of sinful tendencies).Only this self-denial renders man free to carry out the will of God and to share in the freedom of the Holy Spirit. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, October 15, 1989)

…judges Francis’ idea on proselytism

  • The relativism of our days is not a motive to cease the Church’s evangelizing activity

The Church’s commitment to evangelization can never be lacking, since according to his own promise, the presence of the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit will never be absent from her: ‘I am with you always, even until the end of the world’ (Mt 28:20). The relativism and irenicism prevalent today in the area of religion are not valid reasons for failing to respond to the difficult, but awe-inspiring commitment which belongs to the nature of the Church herself and is indeed the Church’s ‘primary task’ (cf. Benedict XVI, Homily during the visit to the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls (25 April 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 745) ‘Caritas Christi urget nos – the love of Christ impels us’ (2 Cor 5:14): the lives of innumerable Catholics bear witness to this truth. Throughout the entire history of the Church, people motivated by the love of Jesus have undertaken initiatives and works of every kind in order to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world and in all sectors of society, as a perennial reminder and invitation to every Christian generation to fulfill with generosity the mandate of Christ. Therefore, as Pope Benedict XVI recalls, ‘the proclamation of and witness to the Gospel are the first service that Christians can render to every person and to the entire human race, called as they are to communicate to all God’s love, which was fully manifested in Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of the world’ (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the participants in the International Conference on the 40th anniversary of the conciliar Decree ‘Ad gentes’ – 11 March 2006: AAS 98 (2006), 334). The love which comes from God unites us to him and ‘makes us a ‘we’ which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is ‘all in all’’ (1Cor 15:28). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of the Evangelization, no. 13, October 6, 2007)

…judges Francis’ idea on Peace

  • Relativistic Theories Consider the Missionary Proclamation of the Church to be Dangerous to Peace

However, the Church’s “missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle)” (cf. Dominus Jesus, no.4). For a long time, the reason for evangelization has not been clear to many among the Catholic faithful (Evangelii Nuntiadi, no. 80). It is even stated that the claim to have received the gift of the fullness of God’s revelation masks an attitude of intolerance and a danger to peace. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization, December 3, 2007)

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