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

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’s 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…

Francis

Quote A

The Pope continued: “Thus we arrive at the point in Chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles (22-31) where the waters of Antioch are moved, because a group of Christians, deeply tied to the Jewish law, want to impose the Hebrew ways on new Christians before baptizing them: e.g., circumcision”.But “Paul says no”.This “ignites a fight among them, the waters are moving”. One reads, in fact, that there were lively debates going on. “They debated vigorously, because there was a great deal of movement”, the Pope explained. “How do they resolve the problem? They gather and each gives his own judgment, offers his own opinion; they discuss, but like brothers not enemies: they don’t make any outside deals in order to win; they don’t go to civil authorities to impose themselves; they don’t kill in order to profit: they seek a path of prayer and dialogue”. And those who who were actually on opposing sides dialogue and reach an agreement: this is the work of the Holy Spirit”.
Chapter 15 of Acts, Francis said, tells how “the process ends”, in today’s liturgy, “with the First Ecumenical Council, the Council of Jerusalem”. They send “a letter to those who do not know how to preach to the closed ones: ‘The Apostles and the elders, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia of Gentile origin, greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind”. In effect, “they sowed discord”, the Pope added, proceeding to read the text: “‘we have decided to choose representatives and send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul’ — who were considered heretics — ‘who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth’”. In reading these words the Pontiff inserted that ultimately they came to an agreement and this even though Barnabas and Paul “were deemed heretics”.
Francis then read, also from the Acts, “this formula, which is one formula, one solemn expression: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage’”.
This, Francis said, “is the way of the Holy Spirit, this is the work of the Holy Spirit”. For it is hewho moves the waters, who stirs a little disorder, who seems to throw us into a storm, to torment — think of Pentecost — andthen he brings harmony, unity: he has these two characteristics”. And “a Church where are never such problems,” he added, “makes me think that the Holy Spirit is not very present”. Certainly, “in a Church where there is always discord and where there are factions that betray their brothers, one against another, there is also no Holy Spirit”. Indeed, “The Spirit is what brings newness, moves situations forward, creates new spaces, brings the wisdom that Jesus promised: ‘He will teach you’”. The Spirit, therefore, “moves but in the end creates harmony among all people”. And in continuing the celebration, the Pope asked “the Lord Jesus, who is always present among us, to send always the Holy Spirit among us, to each one of us; to send Him to the Church and enable the Church to be faithful to the movement of the Holy Spirit” (Morning Meditation in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, As the Spirit moves, Friday, May 8, 2015Full text in Spanish)

Quote B

[Francis]: That is why the Spirit is the author of unity among Christians. That is why unity comes about on our journey, because unity is a grace that one should ask for, and that is why I also repeat that all proselytism among Christians is sinful. The Church never grows due to proselytism but rather “by attraction”, as Benedict XVI said. Proselytism among Christians, therefore, is in itself a grave sin.
[Avvenire]: Why?
[Francis]: Because it contradicts the very dynamic of how to become and continue being Christian. The Church is not a soccer team looking for fans.(Interview with “Avvenire”, November 18, 2016English summary)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of Contents


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
– A false notion of the Magisterium – a common mind whose office is to find and determine the formula that corresponds best with common conscience

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

Leo XIII
– 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

Saint Simplicius
– Synods are convoked when novelties arose in distorted minds

Council of Valence
– 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

Leo XIII
– 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

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
– Absolute and immutable value of the precepts of natural law

John Paul II
– The moral prescriptions of the law must be faithfully kept and continually put into practice


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

Leo XIII

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

Saint Simplicius

Synods are convoked when novelties arose in distorted minds

Council of Valence

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

Leo XIII

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

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