The Holy Spirit and the Church
The Catholic Church responds to new moral dilemmas not by applying age-old rules and standards, but by giving fresh responses in light of the Gospel, said the preacher of the papal household.
“The difficulty that is encountered on this path – and which must be taken seriously – is the fear of compromising the authority of the magisterium by admitting changes in its pronouncements,” Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa told Pope Francis and top Vatican officials.
Father Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, gave the second of his 2016 Advent reflections to the pope and his closest aides, focusing on understanding how the Holy Spirit works in the process of discernment.
The gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit, he said, allows assembled members of the Church and individuals to distinguish “true doctrines from false one, orthodoxy from heresy” and God’s will from personal desires.
One important point, “which may be helpful in the discussion taking place today on certain moral problems,” he said, is reading the “signs of the times” in order to answer the questions people ask. Father Cantalamessa did not specify the moral dilemmas, although he was preaching at a time when some media were focused on differing opinions on proper ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.
“It is clear that if Church has to discern the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel, it does not do so by applying long-standing measures and rules to the ‘times,’ that is, the problems and situations that emerge in society, but rather by giving new responses, ‘intelligible to every generation’ starting each time from the Gospel,” he said.
The Holy Spirit guides the Church either directly through revelations and prophetic inspirations, or “in a collegial way, through the painstaking and difficult confrontation, and even compromise, between the different parties and points of view.”
Whenever members of the Church have to gather to discern or make important decisions, they need “to have confidence in the ability of the Spirit to achieve that accord in the end, even if at times it can seem as if the whole process is getting out of hand,” he said. By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service