Globally and locally, pastors and faithful proclaim reconciliation through the truth of the Gospel

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

The church is aware of the extreme seriousness of the situation created by the forces of division and war, which today constitute a grave threat not only to the balance and harmony of nations but to the very survival of humanity, and she feels it her duty to offer and suggest her own unique collaboration for the overcoming of conflicts and the restoration of concord.

It is a complex and delicate dialogue of reconciliation in which the church is engaged, especially through the work of the Holy See and its different organisms. The Holy See already endeavors to intervene with the leaders of nations and the heads of the various international bodies or seeks to associate itself with them, conduct a dialogue with them and encourage them to dialogue with one another for the sake of reconciliation in the midst of the many conflicts. It does this not for ulterior motives or hidden interests, since it has none—but “out of a humanitarian concern,”129 placing its institutional structure and moral authority, which are altogether unique, at the service of concord and peace. It does this in the conviction that as “in war two parties rise against one another” so “in the question of peace there are also necessarily two parties which must know how to commit themselves,” and in this “one finds the true meaning of a dialogue for peace.”130

The church engages in dialogue for reconciliation also through the bishops in the competency and responsibility proper to them, either individually in the direction of their respective local churches or united in their episcopal conferences, with the collaboration of the priests and of all those who make up the Christian communities. They truly fulfill their task when they promote this indispensable dialogue and proclaim the human and Christian need for reconciliation and peace. In communion with their pastors, the laity who have as “their own field of evangelizing activity . . . the vast and complicated world of politics, society . . . economics . . . (and) international life,”131 are called upon to engage directly in dialogue or to work for dialogue aimed at reconciliation. Through them too the church carries out her reconciling activity. Thus the fundamental presupposition and secure basis for any lasting renewal of society and for peace between nations lies in the regeneration of hearts through conversion and penance.

It should be repeated that, on the part of the church and her members, dialogue, whatever form it takes (and these forms can be and are very diverse since the very concept of dialogue has an analogical value) can never begin from an attitude of indifference to the truth. On the contrary, it must begin from a presentation of the truth, offered in a calm way, with respect for the intelligence and consciences of others. The dialogue of reconciliation can never replace or attenuate the proclamation of the truth of the Gospel, the precise goal of which is conversion from sin and communion with Christ and the church. It must be at the service of the transmission and realization of that truth through the means left by Christ to the church for the pastoral activity of reconciliation, namely catechesis and penance.

129 Pope John Paul II, Speech to Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See January 15, 1983), 4, 6, 1 1: Acta Apostolicæ Sedis [AAS] 75 (1983), 376, 378f, 381.
130 Pope John Paul II, Homily at the Mass for the 16th World Day of Peace (January 1, 1983), 6: Insegnamenti VI, 1 (1983), 7.
131 Pope Paul VI, apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 70: AAS 68 (1976), 59f.

Reconciliatio et Pænitentia 25

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