DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     May 4, 1998     vol. 9, no. 86

THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    INTRODUCTION
          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 was 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 first part of this discourse by Pope John Paul II.

SAY "YES" TO THE CHURCH...
AND YOU SAY "YES" TO JESUS

Part One

          The profession of the truth in the Creed has a specific character, inasmuch as the Church is not only an object of faith, but also its subject: we ourselves are the Church in which we profess our faith; we believe in the Church, while at the same time being the Church which believes and prays. We are the Church in her visible dimension, which expresses her faith in her own reality as Church, a reality which is divine and human: two dimensions that are so inseparable that, if one is missing, the entire reality of the Church, as willed and founded by Christ, is canceled.

          This divine and human reality of the Church is organically joined to the divine and human reality of Christ Himself. The Church is in a certain sense the continuation of the mystery of the Incarnation. The Apostle Paul actually spoke of the Church as the Body of Christ, (Cor 12:27; Eph 1:23; Col 1:24), just as Jesus compared the Christic-ecclesial "whole" to the unity of a vine with its branches (John 15: 1-5).

          From this premise it follows that believing in the Church, stating in regard to her the "yes" of acceptance in faith, is a logical consequence of the entire Creed, and particularly of our profession of faith in Christ, the God-man. It is a demand resulting from the internal logic of the Creed and should be kept in mind, especially in our time, when we feel that many are separating, and even opposing the Church and Christ, when they say, for example, "Christ - yes, the Church- no!" This opposition is not entirely new, but has been proposed again in certain parts of the contemporary world. And so it is good to devote today's catechesis to a calm and accurate examination of the meaning of our yes to the Church even in reference to the opposition just mentioned.

          We can admit that this opposition to the Church originates within the particular complexity belonging to our act of faith, by which we say: "I believe in the Church." One could ask whether it is legitimate to include among the divine truths to be believed a human, historical, visible reality such as the Church; a reality which like any human thing, has limitations, imperfections, sinfulness on the part of the persons who belong to every level of her institutional structure: lay people as well as ecclesiastics, even among us Pastors of the Church, without anyone being excluded from this sad inheritance of Adam.

          We must note, however, that Jesus Christ Himself wanted our faith in the Church to face and overcome this difficulty, when he chose Peter as "the rock upon which I will build My Church" (Mt. 16:18). We know from the Gospel, which reports the very words of Jesus, how humanly imperfect and weak the chosen rock was, as Peter demonstrated at the time of his great test. The Gospel itself, nevertheless, testifies that Peter's triple denial, shortly after he had assured the Master of his fidelity, did not cancel his selection by Christ (Luke 22:23; John 21: 15-17). Rather, one notices that peter acquires a new maturity through contrition for his sin, so that after Christ's resurrection he can balance his triple denial with a triple confession: "Yes, Lord, you know that I love You" (John 21: 15), and he is able to receive from the risen Christ the triple confirmation of his mandate as pastor of the Church: "Feed my lambs" (John 21: 15-17). Peter then proved that he loved Christ "more than these" (John 21: 15), by serving in the Church, according to his mandate of apostleship and governance, until his death by martyrdom, his definitive witness for building the Church.

    Next installment: part two.


May 4, 1998       volume 9, no. 86
THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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