VATICAN CITY, 15 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Participants in the annual plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the president of which is Cardinal William Joseph Levada, were received this morning by the Holy Father. In his address to them he highlighted the fact that their dicastery "participates in the ministry of unity" which is primarily entrusted to the Pope through his "commitment to doctrinal fidelity.
"Unity", he added, "is first and foremost unity of faith, upheld by the sacred tradition of which Peter's Successor is the primary custodian and defender. ... This is an indispensable service upon which depends the effectiveness of the Church's evangelising activity unto the end of time.
"The Bishop of Rome", the Pope explained, "must constantly proclaim that ... Jesus is Lord". The Roman Pontiff's "potestas docendi" requires "obedience to the faith, so that the Truth that is Christ may continue to shine forth in all its grandeur, ... and that there may be a single flock gathered around a single Shepherd".
The goal of a shared witness of faith among all Christians "represents, then, a priority for the Church in all periods of history. ... In this spirit, I trust particularly in your dicastery's commitment to overcoming the doctrinal problems that still persist in achieving the full communion of the Society of St. Pius X with the Church".
Benedict XVI then went on to thank the members of the congregation for their efforts towards "the full integration of groups and individuals of former Anglican faithful into the life of the Catholic Church, in accordance with the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution 'Anglicanorum coetibus'. The faithful adherence of these groups to the truth received from Christ and presented in the Magisterium of the Church is in no way contrary to the ecumenical movement", he said, "rather, it reveals the ultimate aim thereof, which is the realisation of the full and visible communion of the disciples of the Lord".
The Pope then turned his attention to the Instruction "Dignitas Personae" concerning certain bioethical questions, which was published by the congregation in 2008. "It represents", he said, "a new milestone in the announcement of the Gospel, in full continuity with the Instruction 'Donum vitae' published by the dicastery in 1987. In such delicate and pressing questions as those that concern procreation and the new therapeutic advances involving the manipulation of the embryo and the human genetic patrimony, ... the Magisterium of the Church seeks to offer its own contribution to the formation of consciences, not only the consciences of believers but of everyone who seeks the truth and is willing to listen to arguments that arise not only from the faith, but also from reason itself".
"Christian faith also makes its truthful contribution in the field of ethics and philosophy, not supplying prefabricated solutions to real problems such as biomedical research and experimentation, put presenting moral standpoints within which human reason can seek and find appropriate solutions", said the Pope.
And he went on: "There are, in fact, certain aspects of Christian revelation that throw light on the problems of bioethics. ... These aspects, inscribed in the heart of man, are also understandable in rational terms as elements of natural moral law, and may find acceptance even among people who do not recognise themselves in the Christian faith".
"Rooted in human nature and accessible to all creatures possessing reason, natural moral law constitutes the foundation for opening a dialogue with all men and women who seek the truth and, more generally, with civil and secular society", said Pope Benedict. And he concluded: "This law, inscribed in the heart of all human beings, touches an essential aspect of legal theory and appeals to legislators' consciences and sense of responsibility".
Address to the Plenary Session of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
(Full address, in Italian)
Taken from Rorate Caeli