Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Pope to U.S. "No Separation Between Faith and Practice"

From the Vatican Information Service:

"Lay men and women," said the Holy Father, "must be encouraged, through sound catechesis and continuing formation, to recognize the distinctive dignity and mission which they have received in Baptism and to embody in all their daily activities an integrated approach to life which finds its inspiration and strength from the Gospel. This means that the laity must be trained to distinguish clearly between their rights and duties as members of the Church and those which they have as members of human society, and encouraged to combine the two harmoniously, recognizing (as stated in "Lumen Gentium) that 'in every temporal affair they are to be guided by their Christian conscience, since there is no human activity - even of the temporal order - that can be withdrawn from God's dominion'."

The Pope underscored that "a clear and authoritative reaffirmation of these fundamental principles of the lay apostolate will help to overcome the serious pastoral problems created by a growing failure to understand the Church's binding obligation to remind the faithful of their duty in conscience to act in accordance with her authoritative teaching. There is urgent need for a comprehensive catechesis on the lay apostolate which will necessarily highlight the importance of a properly formed conscience, the intrinsic relationship between freedom and moral truth, and the grave duty incumbent upon each Christian to work to renew and perfect the temporal order in accordance with the values of God's Kingdom. While fully respecting the legitimate separation of Church and State in American life, such a catechesis must also make clear that for the faithful Christian there can be no separation between the faith which is to be believed and put into practice and a commitment to full and responsible participation in professional, political and cultural life."

He encouraged the bishops "to foster among the laity a shared sense of responsibility for the life and mission of the Church" which, when "rooted in the principles of a sound ecclesiology," will ensure genuine collaboration "without the danger of distorting this relationship by the uncritical importation of categories and structures drawn from secular life."