The Personalist Project

Paragraphs 77 - 79 fill me with fresh admiration for the Church. So much deep truth offered with such clarity and simplicity, nuance and delicacy! I don't quite understand how it is that the super-human character of her teaching isn't obvious to all. I sympathize less and less with the anxiety so many Catholics have about this Pope. 

Therefore, while clearly stating the Church’s teaching, pastors are to avoid judgements that do not take into account the complexity of various situations, and they are to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition.

Amen. The liberal and the conservative temptations both vanquished in a single line.

Paragraphs 80-82, on "the transmission of life" are likewise rich and profound, telling of  the nature and dignity of a child as coming from the heart of a mutually self-giving love. Much food for personalist thought here.

In 83 comes a forceful denunciation of the "horrendous contradiction" of abortion and (by extension) all rejection and mistreatment of persons that occur within the family, designed by God to be a source and sanctuary for human life. In the same paragraph, the Pope declares that the Church "firmly rejects" the death penalty, confirming the development begun (I think) under John Paul II in the Gospel of Life. I don't read him as drawing a moral equivalence between abortion and death penalty. But he does show that the evil of both has everything to do with the dignity and preciousness of each and every human life.

Numbers 84 - 85 focus on the role of parents as the primary educators of their children, noting the tension that obtains currently, because of aggressiveness of mass media and the tendency of the state to usurp the parents' role. To myself I'm thinking that part of the problem is down to longstanding habits of paternalism and clericalism in the Church. Someday I want to write more about this.

The feeling increases as I read the subsequent paragraphs. I know it's true, but can't say I really experience the Church as "a family of families." I don't really experience the reciprocity between family and Church that these paragraphs extol—at least not in anything like the fulness that seems called for. I think we are still far too much in a clericalist mode: priests govern, laity comply. 

Up next: Chapter four, on love in marriage.

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