Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who are currently meeting in their plenary assembly. He encouraged the group to teach and safeguard the entirety of the Catholic faith, saying that love of the truth of Christ is central to real human existence.
Pope Benedict himself, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, headed the Vatican’s teaching and faith-safeguarding office from 1981 until his election as Pope last year.
The Holy Father began his address by encouraging the group to teach “the centrality of the Catholic faith, in its authentic expression,” particularly in their service to individual bishops and the greater world Church.
He highlighted that "when the perception of this centrality diminishes, the fabric of ecclesial life also loses its original vivacity and is damaged, decaying into a form of sterile activism or deteriorating into mere worldly political cunning."
Yet, he pointed out, if the truth of faith holds a central position the life of the Christian, then human existence "is revived by a love that knows neither rest nor limit."
Calling Jesus Christ, "the Truth made Flesh, Who draws the world to Him,” the Pope said that “The light radiated by Christ is splendor of truth. All other truths are fragments of the Truth that He is and that leads back to Him.”
He stressed that “Jesus is the pole star of human freedom, and without Him [that freedom] loses direction, because without knowledge of the truth freedom is distorted and isolated, and is reduced to sterile will."
Pope Benedict stressed the important point that Jesus Christ "attracts to Himself all men's hearts, opening them and filling them with joy.”
“In fact,” he said, “only the truth is capable of occupying the mind and making it fully happy," adding that this happiness frees the soul from "the shackles of egoism, making it capable of authentic love."
The Pope told the delegation that "Love for truth also inspires and guides the Christian approach to the modern world, and the Church's evangelizing commitment."
Faith and Reason
Pointing out that recent advances in the field of scientific knowledge, "have helped us better to understand the mystery of the creation,” he said that this progress "has sometimes been so rapid as to make it very difficult to recognize how it can be compatible with the truths concerning mankind and the world revealed by God.”
“At times,” he noted, “certain scientific assertions have even been opposed to such truths."
On this point, Benedict reaffirmed the need for "deeper knowledge of the truths discovered by reason, in the certainty that there is no cause for competition of any kind between reason and faith."
He stressed that "dialogue between faith and reason, religion and science, offers not only the possibility of demonstrating to modern man, in a more effective and convincing manner, the reasonableness of faith in God, but also that of showing that in Jesus Christ lies the definitive fulfillment of all authentic human aspirations.”
“Thus,” he said, “serious evangelizing efforts cannot overlook the questions arising from modern scientific discoveries and philosophical debate."
Given recent debates over matters such as Intelligent Design, stem cell research and human cloning, many Christians have become deeply entrenched in public scientific wrangling, seeking to build what the late John Paul II called, an authentic Christian humanism.
The Pontiff concluded his address telling members of the Congregation that "your service to the fullness of the faith is a service to truth and, hence, to joy, a joy that comes from the depths of the heart.”
“From this viewpoint,” he said, “your doctrinal ministry can well be defined as 'pastoral.' Your service is, in fact, a service to the full diffusion of the light of God in the world!"