Monday, January 30, 2012

A Colossal Dying of the Faith

"As we know, in vast areas of the earth the faith risks being extinguished, like a flame without fuel. We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of a religious sense which represents one of the greatest challenges for the Church today. The renewal of faith must, then, be a priority for the entire Church in our time." Pope Benedict XVI

On January, 27, 2012, the Holy Father met with the members of the Plenary Session of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).  The CDF is a department of the Apostolic See (the Papal Office) which, among other things, has the authority to review and pass judgment upon anything as it corresponds to or contradicts Catholic faith or morals.  In his statement, not only did the Holy Father speak of this crisis of faith and the loss of the religious sense, he also spoke of the connection this has to the search for unity among Christians.  Pope Benedict said,
Today, we see the many good fruits that have emerged from ecumenical dialogue. Yet we must also recognise that the risks of indifference and of false Irenicism, completely alien to the mindset of Vatican Council II, require us to be vigilant. Such indifference is caused by the increasingly widespread opinion that truth is not accessible to man and that, therefore, we must limit ourselves to finding rules to improve this world. In this scenario, faith comes to be replaced by a shallow-rooted moralism. By contrast, the core of true ecumenism is faith, in which man encounters the truth revealed in the Word of God. Without faith the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to a kind of 'social contract' to which we adhere out of shared interests.
The Holy Father's reference to false irenicism in ecumenical dialogue is a reference to Pius XII's encyclical, Humani generis, which states: "But some through enthusiasm for an imprudent "irenicism" seem to consider as an obstacle to the restoration of fraternal union, things founded on the laws and principles given by Christ and likewise on institutions founded by Him, or which are the defense and support of the integrity of the faith, and the removal of which would bring about the union of all, but only to their destruction."

It is very interesting, as well, that Pope Benedict had another point to make that was, again, clearly reminiscent of Pius XII's teaching.  Benedict emphasized a "crucial problem running through all ecumenical dialogue: ... the question of the structure of revelation; that is, the relationship between Holy Scripture, the living tradition of Holy Church and the ministry of the successors of the Apostles as witness of the true faith."  Read Humani generis for more insight on these important points.

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