DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     June 1, 1998     vol. 9, no. 105


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          In these trying times, when Modernists claim the Pope is out of touch with the 20th century, the Holy Father answers his critics with a logical explanation that Christ's Church has not changed and when one rejects His Church they are also rejecting Mary's Divine Son. For as Christ was human and divine, so also are the dimensions of the Church. This is the essence of a discourse His Holiness gave in Italian in Rome on July 24, 1991 which is even more relevant today. We are grateful to Father Ken Tietjen, O.S.C.O. of New Melleray Abbey for providing the Pontiff's discourse in answer to the critics who, more than ever, reject his teachings and ultimately Christ's teachings - the Word (Parola) of God. Below is the third and final part of this discourse by Pope John Paul II.


Part Three

          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 spiritual growth.

          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"!

June 1, 1998       volume 9, no. 105


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