Speeches 1987 - Los Angeles
Tuesday, 15 September 1987
Dear young Friends,
I. think you already know, without my saying it, how happy I am to be with you today. Wherever I travel around the world, I always make it a point to meet young people. A few days ago I was with them in New Orleans and today I enjoy being with you. From my early days as a young priest, I have spent many hours talking with students on university campuses or while hiking along lakes or in the mountains and hills. I have spent many evenings singing with young men and women like yourselves. Even now as Pope, during the summer months, various groups of young people come to Castel Gandolfo for an evening and we sing and talk together.
As you probably know, I often say that you who are young bring hope to the world. The future of the world shines in your eyes. Even now, you are helping to shape the future of society. Since I have always placed high hopes in young people, I would like to speak to you today precisely about hope.
2. We cannot live without hope. We have to have some purpose in life, some meaning to our existence. We have to aspire to something. Without hope, we begin to die.
Why does it sometimes happen that a seemingly healthy person, successful in the eyes of the world, takes an overdose of sleeping pills and commits suicide? Why, on the other hand, do we see a seriously disabled person filled with great zest for life? Is it not because of hope? The one has lost all hope; in the other, hope is alive and overflowing. Clearly, then, hope does not stem from talents and gifts, or from physical health and success! It comes from something else. To be more precise, hope comes from someone else, someone beyond ourselves.
Hope comes from God, from our belief in God. People of hope are those who believe God created them for a purpose and that he will provide for their needs. They believe that God loves them as a faithful Father. Do you remember the advice that Jesus gave his disciples when they seemed to be fearful of the future? He said: "Do not be concerned for your life, what you are to eat, or for your body, what you are to wear. Life is more important than food and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they do no sow, they do not reap, they have neither cellar nor barn - yet God feeds them. How much more important you are than the birds!" (Lc 12,22-24). Yes, God knows all our needs. He is the foundation for our hope.
3. But what about people who do not believe in God? This is indeed a serious problem, one of the greatest problems of our time - atheism, the fact that many of our contemporaries have no faith in God. When I visited Australia last year, I told a group of children: "The hardest thing about being Pope is to see that many people do not accept the love of Jesus, do not know who he really is and how much he loves them... (Jesus) does not force people to accept his love. He offers it to them, and leaves them free to say yes or no. It fills me with joy to see how many people know and love our Lord, how many say yes to him. But it saddens me to see that some people say no" (Ioannis Pauli II, Ad alumnos "Katherine School of the Air" urbis vulgo nuncupatae "Darwin", die 29 nov. 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX/2  1746 e 1747). Without faith in God, there can be no hope, no lasting, authentic hope. To stop believing in God is to start down a path that can lead only to emptiness and despair.
But those who have the gift of faith live with confidence about things to come. They look to the future with anticipation and joy, even in the face of suffering and pain; and the future that they are ultimately looking towards is everlasting life with the Lord. This kind of hope was very prominent in the life of Saint Paul who once wrote: "We are afflicted in every way possible, but we are not crushed; full of doubts, we never despair. We are persecuted but never abandoned; we are struck down but never destroyed... We do not lose heart, because our inner being is renewed each day" (2Co 4,8-9 2Co 4,16). Only God can renew our inner self each day. Only God can give meaning to life, God who has drawn near to each of us in "Christ Jesus our hope" (1Tm 1,1).
In the New Testament there are two letters ascribed to Saint Peter. In the first of these, he said: "Venerate the Lord, that is, Christ, in your hearts. Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply" (1Petr.3, 15). Dear young friends: I pray that your faith in Christ will always be lively and strong. In this way, you will always be ready to tell others the reason for your hope; you will be messengers of hope for the world.
4. I am often asked, especially by young people, why I became a priest. May be some of you would like to ask the same question. Let me try briefly to reply.
I must begin by saying that it is impossible to explain entirely, for it remains a mystery, even to myself. How does one explain the ways of God? Yet, I know that at a certain point in my life, I became convinced that Christ was saying to me what he had said to thousands before me: "Come, follow me"! There was a clear sense that what I heard in my heart was no human voice, nor was it just an idea of my own. Christ was calling me to serve him as a priest.
And you can probably tell, I am deeply grateful to God for my vocation to the priesthood. Nothing means more to me or gives me greater joy than to celebrate Mass each day and to serve God’s people in the Church. That has been true ever since the day of my ordination as a priest. Nothing has ever changed it, not even becoming Pope.
Confiding this to you, I would like to invite each of you to listen carefully to God’s voice in your heart. Every human person is called to communion with God. That is why the Lord made us, to know him and love him and serve him, and - in doing this - to find the secret to lasting joy.
In the past the Church in the United States has been rich in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. And it could be especially true today. At the same time, the Church needs the Gospel witness of holy lay people, in married life and in the single state. Be assured that the Lord knows each of you by name and wishes to speak to your heart in a dialogue of love and salvation. God continues to speak to young people on the banks of the Mississippi River and on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains. God continues to speak in the cities on the West Coast of America and across the rolling hills and plains. God continues to speak to every human person.
Dear young people of America, listen to his voice. Do not be afraid. Open up your hearts to Christ. The deepest joy there is in life is the joy that comes from God and is found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is the hope of the world. Jesus Christ is your hope and mine!
Tuesday, 15 September 1987
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Communications Industry,
1. I am very pleased to be here with you. I would like to be able to greet each one of you personally and to express my regard for you individually. Although this is not possible, I wish to express my sincere respect for all the categories of the media that you represent – the film industry, the music and recording industry, radio, electronic news, television and all those who inform the world through the written word – and for the diverse functions that you perform as workers, writers, editors, managers and executives. I greet you in the full range of your activities, from the very visible to the relatively hidden.
My visit to Los Angeles, and indeed to the United States, would seem incomplete without this meeting, since you represent one of the most important American influences on the world today. You do this in every area of social communications and contribute thereby to the development of a mass popular culture. Humanity is profoundly influenced by what you do. Your activities affect communication itself: supplying information, influencing public opinion, offering entertainment. The consequences of these activities are numerous and diverse. You help your fellow citizens to enjoy leisure, to appreciate art and to profit from culture. You often provide the stories they tell and the songs they sing. You give them news of current events, a vision of humanity and motives for hope. Yours is indeed a profound influence on society. Hundreds of millions of people see your films and television programmes, listen to your voices, sing your songs and reflect your opinions. It is a fact that your smallest decisions can have global impact.
2. Your work can be a force for great good or great evil.You yourselves know the dangers, as well as the splendid opportunities open to you. Communication products can be works of great beauty, revealing what is noble and uplifting in humanity and promoting what is just and fair and true. On the other hand communications can appeal to and promote what is debased in people: dehumanized sex through pornography or through a casual attitude towards sex and human life; greed through materialism and consumerism or irresponsible individualism; anger and vengefulness through violence or self-righteousness. All the media of popular culture which you represent can build or destroy, uplift or cast down. You have untold possibilities for good, ominous possibilities for destruction. It is the difference between death and life – the death or life of the spirit. And it is a matter of choice. The challenge of Moses to the people of Israel is applicable to all of us today: "I set before you life and death... Choose life" (Dt 30,19).
3. There is something of great interest for all of us in the Constitution of the United States. The same amendment that guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press also guarantees freedom of religious practice. The link between the art of human expression and the exercise of religion is profound. Social communications in fact provide an important first step in uniting human beings in mutual love, and this first step is also a step to God, "for God is love" (1Io. 4, 8). Religious practice for its part fosters communication with God. But it also fosters human communication, since human communication is part of that relationship of love for neighbour that is mandated in both the Old and New Testaments.
It is easy to see why the Church has recognized and taught that people have a right to communicate. Linked to this right is the right to information, about which the Second Vatican Council speaks in these words: "Because of the progress of modern society and the increasing interdependence of its members, it is clear that information has become very useful and generally necessary... There exists therefore in human society a right to information on the subjects that are of concern to people" (Inter Mirifica IM 5).
In this way, then, the Church recognizes the need for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, just as does your Constitution. But she goes further. Rights imply corresponding duties. The proper exercise of the right to information demands that the content of what is communicated be true and – within the limits set by justice and charity – complete (Cfr. ibid.). Your very profession invites you to reflect on this obligation to truth and its completeness. Included here is the obligation to avoid any manipulation of truth for any reason. This manipulation in fact takes place when certain issues are deliberately passed over in silence, in order that others may be unduly emphasized. It also occurs when information is altered or withheld so that society will be less able to resist the imposition of a given ideology.
The obligation to truth and its completeness applies not only to the coverage of news, but to all your work. Truth and completeness should characterize the content of artistic expression and entertainment. You find a real meaning in your work when you exercise your role as collaborators of truth – collaborators of truth in the service of justice, fairness and love.
4. Your industry not only speaks to people and for people; it makes communication possible among them. In this we see how your activities transcend the categories of both rights and duties and confer upon you inestimable privileges. Just before joining you this afternoon, I met young people in several cities by using satellite links. For me this is just one example of how your industry can help foster communication and unite people in fraternal love. It is within your power to use technology to promote what is deeply human and to direct it to the work of peace. You have marvellous tools which others lack. They must be employed in the service of people’s right to communicate.
In today’s modern world there is always the danger of communication becoming exclusively one-way, depriving audiences of the opportunity to participate in the communication process. Should that happen with you, you would no longer be communicators in the full, human sense. The people themselves, the general public whom you serve, should not be excluded from having the opportunity for public dialogue.
In order to foster such a dialogue, you yourselves, as communicators, must listen as well as speak. You must seek to communicate with people, and not just speak to them. This involves learning about people’s needs, being aware of their struggles and presenting all forms of communications with the sensitivity that human dignity requires – your human dignity and theirs. This applies especially to all audio-visual programmes.
5. At the basis of all human rights is the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1,27). A recognition of this human dignity is also a part of your civil tradition in the United States, and is expressed in the declaration of your nation’s independence: all people are created equal in their human dignity and are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All other rights too are rooted in human dignity, including the right to maintain one’s privacy and not to be exploited in the intimacy of one’s family.
The fundamental dignity of the human person is still more strongly proclaimed by the Church. She raises her voice on behalf of people everywhere, declaring the dignity of every human being, every man, woman and child. None is excluded because all bear the image of God. Physical and mental handicaps, spiritual weaknesses and human aberrations cannot obliterate the dignity of man. You will understand why the Church attaches such importance to this principle found on the first page of the Bible; it will later become the basis of the teaching of Jesus Christ as he says: "Always treat others as you would like them to treat you" (Mt 7,12).
In particular, social communications must support human dignity because the world is constantly tempted to forget it. Whether in news or in drama, whether in song or in story, you are challenged to respect what is human and to recognize what is good. Human beings must never be despised because of limitations, flaws, disorders, or even sins.
Twenty years ago, my predecessor Pope Paul VI, speaking to a gathering much like this one, told that creative community in Rome: "It is a fact that when, as writers and artists, you are able to reveal in the human condition, however lowly or sad it may be, a spark of goodness, at that very instant a glow of beauty pervades your whole work. We are not asking that you should play the part of moralist, but we are expressing confidence in your mysterious power of opening up the glorious regions of light that lie behind the mystery of human life" (Pauli VI Allocutio, die 6 maii 1967: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, V (1967) 209-215).
As you do precisely this – open up the glorious regions of light that lie behind the mystery of human life – you must ask yourselves if what you communicate is consistent with the full measure of human dignity. How do the weakest and the most defenseless in society appear in your words and images: the most severely handicapped, the very old, foreigners and the undocumented, the unattractive and the lonely, the sick and the infirm? Whom do you depict as having – or not having – human worth?
6. Certainly your profession subjects you to a great measure of accountability – accountability to God, to the community and before the witness of history. And yet at times it seems that everything is left in your hands. Precisely because your responsibility is so great and your accountability to the community is not easily rendered juridically, society relies so much on your good will. In a sense the world is at your mercy. Errors in judgment, mistakes in evaluating the propriety and justice of what is transmitted, and wrong criteria in art can offend and wound consciences and human dignity. They can encroach on sacred fundamental rights. The confidence that the community has in you honours you deeply and challenges you mightily.
7. I would encourage you in yet another way: to respect also your own dignity. All that I have said about the dignity of human beings applies to you.
Daily cares oppress you in ways different from those arising in other kinds of work. Your industry reflects the fast pace of the news and changing tastes. It deals with vast amounts of money that bring with them their own problems. It places you under extreme pressure to be successful, without telling you what "success" really is. Working constantly with images, you face the temptation of seeing them as reality. Seeking to satisfy the dreams of millions, you can become lost in a world of fantasy.
At this point, you must cultivate the integrity consonant with your own human dignity. You are more important than success, more valuable than any budget. Do not let your work drive you blindly, for if work enslaves you, you will soon enslave your art. Who you are and what you do are too important for that to happen. Do not let money be your sole concern, for it too is capable of enslaving art as well as souls. In your life there must also be room for your families and for leisure. You need time to rest and be re-created, for only in quiet can you absorb the peace of God.
You yourselves are called to what is noble and lofty in human living, and you must study the highest expressions of the human spirit. You have a great part in shaping the culture of this nation and other nations. To you is entrusted an important portion of the vast heritage of the human race. In fulfilling your mission you must always be aware of how your activities affect the world community, how they serve the cause of universal solidarity.
8. The Church wishes you to know that she is on your side. For a long time she has been a patron and defender of the arts; she has promoted the media and been in the forefront of the use of new technology. The first book for the printing press of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type, was the inspired word of God, the Bible. Vatican Radio was established under the direction of the inventor of radio, Guglielmo Marconi.
Today, too, the Church stands ready to help you by her encouragement and to support you in all your worthy aims. She offers you her challenge and her praise. I pray that you will welcome that help and never be afraid to accept it.
Ladies and gentlemen of the communications industry: I have set before you the broad outlines of a choice for good within the framework of your profession. I ask you to choose the common good. It means honouring the dignity of every human being.
I am convinced that to a great extent we can share a common hope, rooted in a vision of the human race harmoniously united through communication. I am sure too that all of you, whether Christian or not, will permit me to allude to the great fascination that surrounds the mystery of the communicating word. For Christians, the communicating word is the explanation of all reality as expressed by Saint John: "In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God" (Jn 1,1). And for all those who hold the Judeo-Christian tradition, the nobility of communication is linked to the wisdom of God and expressed in his loving revelation. Thus the Book of Deuteronomy records God’s communication to Israel: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today" (Dt 6,6).
Ladies and gentlemen: as communicators of the human word, you are the stewards and administrators of an immense spiritual power that belongs to the patrimony of mankind and is meant to enrich the whole of the human community. The challenge that opens up before you truly requires generosity, service and love. I am sure that you will strive to meet it. And, as you do, I pray that you will experience in your own lives a deep satisfaction and joy. And may the peace of God dwell in your hearts.
Minor Seminary of Our Lady of the Angels (Los Angeles)
Wednesday, 16 September 1987 Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Before beginning to respond in the context of our fraternal exchanges, I wish to express to you my deep gratitude: gratitude for your many invitations to make this pastoral visit, gratitude for your presence here today, and gratitude for the immense amount of preparation which this visit required. Over and above all this, I thank you for your daily toil, and your partnership with me in the Gospel.In a word, I thank you for "your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Th 1,3).
Cardinal Bernardin has given us an introduction to the extremely important reality of "communio", which is the best framework for our conversation. As bishops, we can never tire of prayerfully reflecting on this subject. Since, as the Extraordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops in 1985 indicated, "the ecclesiology of communion is the central and fundamental idea of the Council’s documents" (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985, Relatio finalis, C, 1), it follows that we must return time and again to those same documents in order to be imbued with the profound theological vision of the Church which the Holy Spirit has placed before us, and which constitutes the basis of all pastoral ministry in the Church’s pilgrimage through human history.
The programme of our collegial ministry cannot be other than to release into the lifestream of ecclesial life all the richness of the Church’s self-understanding, which was given by the Holy Spirit to the community of faith in the celebration of the Second Vatican Council. The renewal of Catholic life which the Council called for is to be measured not primarily in terms of external structures, but in deeper understanding and more effective implementation of the core vision of her true nature and mission which the Council offered to the Church at the close of the second millennium of the Christian era. That renewal depends on the way the Council’s fundamental insights are authentically received in each particular Church and in the universal Church.
At the heart of the Church’s self-understanding is the notion of communio: primarily, a sharing through grace in the life of the Father given us through Christ and in the Holy Spirit. "God chose us in him" - in Christ - "before the world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be full of love" (Ep 1,4). This communion has its origin in a divine call, the eternal decree which predestined us to share the image of the Son (Cfr. Rom Rm 8,28-30). It is realized through sacramental union with Christ and through organic participation in all that constitutes the divine and human reality of the Church, the Body of Christ, which spans the centuries and is sent into the world to embrace all people without distinction.
2. It is clear that in the decades since the Council this "vertical dimension" of ecclesial communion has been less deeply experienced by many who, on the other hand, have a vivid sense of its "horizontal dimension”. Unless, however, the entire Christian community has a keen awareness of the marvellous and utterly gratuitous outpouring of "the kindness and love of God our Saviour" which saved us "not because of any righteous deeds we had done, but because of his mercy" (Tt 3,4-5), the whole ordering of the Church’s life and the exercise of her mission of service to the human family will be radically weakened and never reach the level intended by the Council.
The ecclesial body is healthy in the measure in which Christ’s grace, poured out through the Holy Spirit, is accepted by the members. Our pastoral efforts are fruitful, in the last analysis, when the People of God - we bishops with the clergy, religious and laity - are led to Christ, grow in faith, hope and charity, and become authentic witnesses of God’s love in a world in need of transfiguration.
Cardinal Bernardin has stated very well that just as there is but one faith, one Lord, one baptism, so there can be but one loyalty - to the word of God perennially proclaimed in the Church entrusted to the Episcopal College with the Roman Pontiff as its visible head and perpetual source of unity. The word of God, which is the power of God leading all who believe to salvation (Cfr. Rom Rm 1,16 Dei Verbum DV 17), is fully revealed in the Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Paschal Mystery brings about a salvation that is transcendent and eternal: "He died for us, that all of us . . . together might live with him" (1Th 5,10). It is the Church’s task therefore, while she seeks in every way possible to increase her service to the human family in all its needs, to preach Christ’s call to conversion and to proclaim redemption in his blood.
3. The "vertical dimension" of ecclesial communion is of profound significance in understanding the relationship of the particular Churches to the universal Church. It is important to avoid a merely sociological view of this relationship. "In and from such individual Churches there comes into being the one and only Catholic Church" (Lumen Gentium LG 23), but this universal Church cannot be conceived as the sum of the particular Churches, or as a federation of particular Churches.
In the celebration of the Eucharist these principles come fully to the fore. For, as the Council document on the Liturgy specifies: " the principal manifestation of the Church consists in the full, active participation of all God’s holy people in the same liturgical celebrations, especially in the same Eucharist, in one prayer, at one altar, at which the bishop presides, surrounded by his presbyterate and by his ministers" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 41). Wherever a community gathers around the altar under the ministry of a bishop, there Christ is present and there, because of Christ, the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church gathers together (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 26).
The Catholic Church herself subsists in each particular Church, which can be truly complete only through effective communion in faith, sacraments and unity with the whole Body of Christ. Last November, in my letter to you during your meeting in Washington, I dealt at some length with this aspect of communion. At that time I wrote: "The very mystery of the Church impels us to recognize that the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church is present in each particular Church throughout the world. And since the Successor of Peter has been constituted for the whole Church as Pastor and as Vicar of Christ (Cfr. ibid. 22), all the particular Churches - precisely because they are Catholic, precisely because they embody in themselves the mystery of the universal Church - are called to live in communion with him.
"Our own relationship of ecclesial communion - collegialitas effectiva et affectiva - is discovered in the same mystery of the Church. It is precisely because you are pastors of particular Churches in which there subsists the fullness of the universal Church that you are, and must always be, in full communion with the Successor of Peter. To recognize your ministry as ‘vicars and delegates of Christ’ for your particular Churches (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 27) is to understand all the more clearly the ministry of the Chair of Peter, which ‘presides over the whole assembly of charity, protects legitimate variety, and at the same time sees to it that differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute to it’ (Ibid. 13)" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Epistula ad episcopos Civitatum Foederatarum Americae Septemtrionalis in urbe "Washington" congregatos, 1, die 4 nov. 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX/2  1332).
4. In this perspective too, we must see the ministry of the Successor of Peter, not only as a "global" service, reaching each particular Church from "outside" as it were, but as belonging already to the essence of each particular Church from "within".Precisely because this relationship of ecclesial communion - our collegialitas effectiva et affaectiva - is such an intimate part of the structure of the Church’s life, its exercise calls for each and every one of us to be completely one in mind and heart with the will of Christ regarding our different roles in the College of Bishops. The Council took pains not only to formulate these roles but also to place the exercise of authority in the Church in its proper perspective, which is precisely the perspective of communio. In this respect also the Council was - in the words of the Extraordinary Synod - "a legitimate and valid expression and interpretation of the deposit of faith as it is found in Sacred Scripture and in the living tradition of the Church".
As I also wrote to you last year, I have endeavoured to fulfill my role as Successor of Peter in a spirit of fraternal solidarity with you. I wish only to be of service to all the bishops of the world, and-in obedience to my specific responsibility at the service of the Church’s unity and universality-to confirm them in their own collegial ministry. I have always been greatly encouraged in this task by your fraternal support and your partnership in the Gospel, for which I express to you again my profound gratitude. It is of great importance to the Church that in the full power of the Church’s communion we continue to proclaim together Jesus Christ and his Gospel. In this way we ourselves live fully, as successors of the apostles, the mystery of ecclesial communion. At the same time through our ministry we enable the faithful to enter ever more deeply into the Church’s life of communion with the Most Holy Trinity.
5. Archbishop Quinn has spoken of the Church as a community that wishes to remain faithful to the moral teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. To proclaim a body of moral teaching is in fact an inseparable part of the Church’s mission in the world. From the beginning, the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has striven to apply God’s revelation in Christ to all the many aspects of our living in this world, knowing that we are called to “lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way” (Col 1,10).
It is sometimes reported that a large number of Catholics today do not adhere to the teaching of the Church on a number of questions, notably sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage. Some are reported as not accepting the Church’s clear position on abortion. It has also been noted that there is a tendency on the part of some Catholics to be selective in their adherence to the Church’s moral teachings. It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the Magisterium is totally compatible with being a "good Catholic" and poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching office of the bishops of the United States and elsewhere. I wish to encourage you in the love of Christ to address this situation courageously in your pastoral ministry, relying on the power of God’s truth to attract assent and on the grace of the Holy Spirit which is given both to those who proclaim the message and to those to whom it is addressed.
We must also constantly recall that the teaching of Christ’s Church - like Christ himself - is a "sign of contradiction". It has never been easy to accept the Gospel teaching in its entirety, and it never will be. The Church is committed, both in faith and morals, to make her teaching as clear and understandable as possible, presenting it in all the attractiveness of divine truth. And yet the challenge of the Gospel remains inherent in the Christian message transmitted to each generation. Archbishop Quinn has made reference to a principle with extremely important consequences for every area of the Church’s life: "... the revelation of God par excellence is found in the Cross of Christ which makes God’s folly wiser than human wisdom. Often human wisdom in a given age appears to have the last word. But the Cross brings a perspective that changes judgements radically". Yes, dear brothers, the Cross - in the very act of revealing mercy, compassion and love - changes judgements radically.
6. A number of other general points may be made. First, the Church is a community of faith. To accept faith is to give assent to the word of God as transmitted by the Church’s authentic Magisterium.Such assent constitutes the basic attitude of the believer, and is an act of the will as well as of the mind. It would be altogether out of place to try to model this act of religion on attitudes drawn from secular culture.
Within the ecclesial community, theological discussion takes place within the framework of faith.Dissent from Church doctrine remains what it is, dissent; as such it may not be proposed or received on a equal footing with the Church’s authentic teaching.
Moreover, as bishops we must be especially responsive to our role as authentic teachers of the faith when opinions at variance with the Church’s teaching are proposed as a basis for pastoral practice.
Speeches 1987 - Los Angeles