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Safeguarding doctrine is a work of mercy, Pope says in address to CDF

January 29, 2016

In a January 29 meeting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Pope Francis remarked that the Congregation’s work involves spiritual works of mercy, which are closely related to corporal works of mercy.

The Pope’s address to the CDF was centered on the theme of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. He opened by saying: “Mercy is the foundation of the life of the Church: the first truth of the Church, indeed, is Christ's love.”

The CDF, in its work to protect the integrity of Christian doctrine, is primarily involved in spiritual works of mercy (such as counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, and admonishing sinners), the Pope noted. These works, he continued, are naturally connected with material aid to the poor and needy, through the ties of Christian charity. He observed: “Christian faith, indeed, is not only knowledge to be committed to memory, but also truth to live in love.”

To safeguard the faith, the Pope continued, the CDF should work to ensure doctrinal purity but also “to safeguard the integrity of customs.” Faith in Christ, he said, involves both an intellectual assent and a moral response. In this context Pope Francis thanked the CDF for its work on cases involving sexual abuse: work that upholds the Church’s commitment to moral norms.

The Pope went on to praise the CDF for working cooperatively with episcopal conferences. Especially in Europe, he said, this cooperative approach should help to build “a new missionary élan and a greater openness to the transcendent dimension of life, without which Europe risks losing that humanistic spirit which she loves and defends.”

The Pope also expressed his satisfaction with the CDF’s study on the complementary relationship between the hierarchical structure of the Church and the charismatic gifts of her members, a relationship that allows for unity within diversity.

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