57 – The Council of Jerusalem: Those on opposing sides and sowing discord entered into dialogue and reached an agreement. This formula is the work of the Holy Spirit who creates harmony among all

Immutable and eternal in his divine nature, Jesus Christ himself affirmed that his mission here on earth had as its objective not the abolition of the law and the prophets, but rather, their fulfillment (cf. Mt 5:15-20). However, it is undeniable that this fulfillment was the greatest innovation ever experienced in history. The Redeemer’s preaching signified a complete renewal of human life in every aspect; not only with regards to man’s relationship with God, but also to his interaction with others. It is enough to consider for example, the revelation of the Trinity – three Persons in One God, the invitation to participate in divine life through grace, or the ‘paradigm shift’ that the new commandment of love produced within the sphere of social relations. All the perennial aspects of human life were also put in a new perspective by Jesus Christ. In this way, he offered a much desired peace; not the peace the world gives, but rather ‘his’ peace (cf. Jn 14:27); He promised happiness, but as the reward of the just and those who suffered for his name (cf. Mt 5:3-12).

The same occurs with the union that should prevail among his followers – a union that constitutes one of the distinguishing characteristics of his Church; ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph 4:5) – not the work of the human spirit but rather that of ‘the Spirit of truth’ (Jn 14:17). The widely proclaimed (and frequently misunderstood) expression ‘ut unum sint’ does not include the ‘son of perdition’ nor those who ‘are of the world’, but rather is related to a sanctification ‘in truth’ (cf. Jn 17:12,16,19). That’s why it’s shocking to hear certain affirmations that seem to foment an indiscriminate union, the price of which would unavoidably be an accord between good and evil, truth and error, beauty and ugliness. Is this the unity desired by Christ and produced by the Holy Spirit? Once again, a clarification of certain concepts is in order…


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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study


I – Desire for union justifies concession to error?
II – True unity is achieved only in the truth
III – Do novelties always proceed from the Holy Spirit?
IV –Integrity of faith and morals does not allow for compromise

I –Desire for union justifies concession to error?

John Paul II

The Council of Jerusalem: testimony of how truth should be served without compromise
Facile ‘agreement’ must be absolutely avoided: love for truth is the deepest dimension of any authentic quest for full communion between Christians
A ‘being together’ which betrays the truth is in contradiction with God, who is Truth

Pius X

The primary duty of charity does not lie in the tolerance of false ideas

Pius XII

A serious danger concealed beneath the mask of virtue: to consider an obstacle to fraternal union what is founded on the laws and principles given by Christ
It is not licit to dissimulate the truth with the pretext of promoting unity

Pius X

The primary duty of charity does not lie in the tolerance of false ideas

Paul VI

The desire to come together as brothers must not lead to a watering down of truth
Do not betray truth out of a desire to please men

Pius XI

The divinely revealed truth is not a subject for compromise

II – True Unity is Achieved only in the Truth

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Outside the truth no real union can ever be attained

John Paul II

The mission confided by Christ to his Church is unity in the identity of the faith
Over and above unity in love, unity in truth is always urgent for us


True union between Christians consists in a unity of Faith and of government

Benedict XVI

The unity of the first community of believers was nourished by the teaching of the Apostles
The communion of the baptized is visibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety
The Church: the place of unity and communion in truth

III – Do novelties always proceed from the Holy Spirit?

Sacred Scripture

At the root of the Council of Jerusalem: confusion sown by judaizers


Synods are convoked when novelties arose in distorted minds

Synod of Valence III

Avoid novelties that foment contention and scandal - firmly hold only what is drawn from the maternal womb of the Church

John Paul II

The desire to hear novelties deviates from truth

Pius X

The office divinely committed to the Pope: to guard with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith and to reject profane novelties
Those who despise apostolic traditions and embrace vain doctrines condemned by the Church: blind, leaders of the blind, and moved by blind passion

Benedict XV

Keep yourself from the spirit of Modernism: eager searching after novelties in everything

Pius XII

Novelty is only praiseworthy when it confirms the truth

IV – Integrity of faith and morals does not allow for compromise

Pius X

A Modernist error: evolution in the Church results from two conflicting forces, one tending to progress and the other to conservation

Catechism of Saint Pius X

In the first Council, the Apostles opposed those who perverted the faith

Sacred Scripture

To protect the Gospel, Saint Paul did not admit concessions at the Council of Jerusalem

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The Apostles warned the faithful to hold fast to the traditions and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all

Pius X

The Pope must guard the purity of the Faith and discipline, especially when evil is concealed in ambiguous expressions with emotional high-sounding words

Paul VI

Grave responsibility of bishops to preserve unaltered the deposit of the faith

Saint Vincent of Lerins

Bishops are keepers not authors – they should ‘keep the deposit’: transmit the pure gold of the doctrine confided to them


To suppress any doctrine handed down from the Apostles is to separate Catholics from the Church rather than to bring in those who differ

Pius XII

Let no Christian embrace novelties lightly - the principles of natural and positive law do not change
Absolute and immutable value of the precepts of natural law

Related studies

  • 152 – “The Catholic Church has acted again and again as a mediator in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defense of life, human and civil rights”

  • 150 – “Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it”

  • 140 – “Do we love the Church as we love our mothers, also taking into account her defects? All mothers have defects. The Church also has her defects”

  • 138 – “The Church is woman. Women, in the Church, are more important than bishops and priests”

  • 115 – The Council Fathers strongly perceived a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way

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