Pope Addresses Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith


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(15 Jan 10 - RV) The Churches teaching is open to all who seek truth, believers and non-believers: this was Pope Benedict XVI's message Friday as he met with participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Pope touched on the contribution that the Christian faith can offer in the field of bioethics and he reiterated that the first commitment of St Peter's Successor is to preserve the unity of the faithful.

He said the Successor of St Peter is "the primary keeper and defender" of faith. However, he said the Pope and the Church want to contribute to the formation of the consciences of every individual, not only of believers. The Pope recalled that his ministry is primarily at the service of unity and that the Bishop of Rome is called to obey the faith, "so Christ's truth continues to shine for all men".

Hence the hope "that outstanding doctrinal issues that remain to be resolved for the fraternity of St. Pius X to achieve full communion with the Church" will be overcome. The Holy Father also welcomed the Dicastery's commitment in favour of "the full integration" of groups and individual Anglican faithful into the Catholic Church.

On this point he stressed that: "The faithful adherence of these groups to the truth received from Christ and proposed by the Magisterium of the Church is not in any way contrary to the ecumenical movement, rather it shows its ultimate goal, which is to achieve full and visible communion of the disciples of the Lord" .

The Pope also recalled the contribution made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the field of bioethics, in particular with the 2008publication of the instruction "Dignitas personae". On the sensitive and topical issues of procreation and the manipulation of embryos, he noted, the "respect due to every human being at every moment of his/her life":

"Church teaching intends to make its own contribution to the formation of conscience" on this issue - he stated - not only of believers but of those who seek the truth and want to listen to arguments that are drawn from faith and at the same time also from reason.

Pope Benedict said this is also in response to the "widespread mentality", that faith "is an obstacle to freedom and scientific research" that it consists of a list of "prejudices that vitiate the objective understanding of reality".

"Faced with this attitude, which tends to replace truth" with a "fragile and easily manipulated" consensus, the Christian faith provides a truthful contribution to the ethical-philosophical sphere.

It does not provide ready-made solutions to specific problems, such as research and biomedical experimentation, instead it proposes "reliable moral perspectives within which human reason can investigate and find viable solutions".

And that, he said, is because "certain content of Christian revelation" sheds light on bioethical issues, on " the person's social and relational dimension," and even "the connection between the unitive and the procreative aspect of sexuality, the centrality of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman ":

All of this Pope Benedict said, written "in the human heart, is also rationally understood as part of the natural moral law and is welcomed even by those who do not identify themselves with the Christian faith".
"Natural moral law - he warned - it is not exclusively or predominantly confessional":

"Founded in human nature itself and accessible to every rational creature, natural moral law is thus the basis for entering into dialogue with all people who seek the truth and, more broadly, with civil and secular society."

"This law, inscribed in the heart of every man - concluded the pope - touches one of the crucial issues of reflection on law itself and thus challenges the conscience and the responsibility of all legislators. "