We must be careful for appreciation of conscience also lies at the heart of the
Church, which claims to be the representative of God for man'' good, both
in the moral order as well as on the more specifically religious level, and
so she gives light, formation and service to the human conscience. Her job
is to help human minds and consciences to have access to the truth of God
which is revealed to Christ, who entrusted to His apostles and to His
Church this ministry, this diakonia of preaching the truth in love. Every
conscience, motivated by a sincere love for the truth, cannot fail to want
to know, and so, to hear - at least the latter - what the Gospels preached
by the Church says to human beings for their own good.
But frequently the problem of yes or no to the Church becomes complicated
at this point, because it is the very mediation of Christ and His Gospel
which is rejected: this means a not to Christ, more than to the Church.
This fact must be taken into serious consideration by anyone who claims and
wants to be a Christian. He cannot ignore the mystery of the Incarnation,
by which God Himself granted man the possibility of establishing contact
with Him only through Christ, the Incarnate Word, of whom St. Paul says:
"There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"
(1 Tim 2:5). Since the Church's beginning, the apostles preached that "there is
no other name (besides Christ's) under heaven given to the human race by
which we are to be saved" (Acts 4:12). Christ instituted the Church as a
community of salvation, in which His saving mediation is continued to the
end of time in virtue of the Holy Spirit Whom He sent. The Christian,
therefore, knows that according to God's Will, man - who, because he is a
person, is a social being - is called to be in relationship with God
precisely in the community of the Church. It is impossible to separate
mediation from the Church which participates in Christ's function as
Mediator between God and men.
Finally, we cannot ignore the fact that the "not to the Church" frequently
has deeper roots, both in individual persons and in human groups and
contexts - especially in certain sectors of true or presumed culture -
where today, as before or perhaps more than before, it is not difficult to
find attitudes of rejection or even hostility. At the bottom of this there
is a psychology characterized by the will for total autonomy, originating
in a sense of personal or collective self-sufficiency, by which one
maintains independence from the superhuman Being which is proposed - or
interiorly discovered - as Author and Lord of life, of fundamental law, of
the moral order, and so, as the ground of the distinction between good and
evil. There are those who pretend to establish on their own what is good
or bad, and thus refuse to be directed by another, either by a transcendent
God or by a Church which represents Him on earth.
This position generally results from a great ignorance of reality. God is
conceived as an enemy of human freedom, as a tyrannical master, even though
He is actually the One Who created freedom and is its most authentic
friend. His commandments have no other purpose than to help men to avoid
the worst and most shameful form of slavery, that of immorality, and to
foster the development of true freedom. Without a trusting relationship
with God, it is not possible for the human person to achieve fully his own
We should not be surprised, then, when we see that an attitude of radical
autonomy easily produces a form of subjugation worse than the feared
"heteronomy": i.e., dependence on the opinions of others, on ideological
and political ties, on social pressures, or on one's own inclinations and
passions. Whenever one believes or boasts that this independent, a man
free from all servitude, he thus reveals that he is subject to public
opinion and to other old and new forms of domination over the human spirit!
IT is easy to see that the attempt to do without God, or the claim not to
need the mediation of Christ and His Church comes at a high price.
Today let us say once again: "YES to the Church", precisely because of our
"YES to Christ"!