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Pope reflects on instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful

November 23, 2016

Continuing his series of Wednesday catechetical addresses on mercy, Pope Francis devoted November 23 general audience to two spiritual works of mercy: instructing the ignorant and counseling the doubtful.

“These two works are related and both can be practiced daily in our families and communities,” the Pope said to those gathered in Paul VI Audience Hall, according to the official English-language synthesis of his remarks.

“The Church’s mission of evangelization has always been accompanied by teaching and the founding of schools, since education promotes the dignity of the person and provides for the full development of his or her God-given gifts,” he continued. “Illiteracy and lack of access to education are in fact a form of poverty and injustice.”

After praising education for developing the ability to think critically – “by raising questions,” he said, “it also helps us to find satisfying answers” – the Pope turned to the importance of counseling the doubtful:

It is a true work of mercy to counsel those troubled by doubts about the meaning of life or shaken in their faith. Let us be grateful to all who devote themselves to this work through catechesis and religious education.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Catholic in Seattle - Nov. 24, 2016 12:00 AM ET USA

    Is there not a really sad note of irony in the Poe's advice? If counseling the doubtful is such a tremendous good, why can't he bring himself to answer the dubia sent to him by his four cardinals? The faithful are holding their breath in suspense of his reply, yet he gives none.

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Nov. 23, 2016 9:00 PM ET USA

    Instructing the ignorant is not only in our families and community but also our Church. Many priests and bishops continue their ignorance when it comes to abortion and so called social issues.

  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 23, 2016 12:48 PM ET USA

    The Church already has very solid and extensive teachings of St. John Paul II regarding family, marriage, and sexuality that are referenced to the challenges of current culture. No need to reinvent the wheel.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 23, 2016 8:48 AM ET USA

    The line between instructing the ignorant/counseling the doubtful and proselytizing used to be clear. This is no longer the case. Now we hear loose talk about admitting to Holy Communion those who reject transubstantiation and those who may be living in mortal sin. We are subject to as many apologies for being Catholic as the current Administration apologizes for our being Americans. If we wish to give reasons for hope to inquirers, we are committing the greatest evil imaginable: proselytizing.