The Church proclaims the message and offers the means of reconciliation

From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):

In intimate connection with Christ’s mission, one can therefore sum up the church’s mission, rich and complex as it is, as being her central task of reconciling people: with God, with themselves, with neighbor, with the whole of creation; and this in a permanent manner since, as I said on another occasion, “the church is also by her nature always reconciling.”35

The church is reconciling inasmuch as she proclaims the message of reconciliation as she has always done throughout her history, from the apostolic Council of Jerusalem36 down to the latest synod and the recent jubilee of the redemption. The originality of this proclamation is in the fact that for the church reconciliation is closely linked with conversion of heart: This is the necessary path to understanding among human beings.

The church is also reconciling inasmuch as she shows man the paths and offers the means for reaching this fourfold reconciliation. The paths are precisely those of conversion of heart and victory over sin, whether this latter is selfishness or injustice, arrogance or exploitation of others, attachment to material goods or the unrestrained quest for pleasure. The means are those of faithful and loving attention to God’s word; personal and community prayer; and in particular the sacraments, true signs and instruments of reconciliation, among which there excels, precisely under this aspect, the one which we are rightly accustomed to call the sacrament of reconciliation or penance and to which we shall return later on.

35 “The church is also by her nature always reconciling, handing on to others the gift that she herself has received, the gift of having been forgiven and made one with God”: Pope John Paul II, Homily at Liverpool, May 30, 1982: Insegnamenti, V, 2 (1982), 1992.
36 Cf Acts 15:2-33.

Reconciliatio et Pænitentia 8

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