There is no doubt that the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia is principally surprising in the field of matrimonial morality, in its veiled contradiction to the principles always defended by the Church. But readers may find many other worrisome points for reflection within this document; they perhaps appear inoffensive, at first sight, but are very decisive points, in reality.
Let us analyze number 278, found in the seventh chapter. This part is dedicated to the education of children, and stands out for its lack of true religious spirit. It could easily pass for an ethical manual that circulates in any secular institution. The scriptural passages included appear to be a mere formality, for the text has no theological depth whatsoever, and is irrelevant in face of the aggressive question of sex education, presented further on in numbers 280-286. If someone is able to discover, within these six paragraphs, something that could be taken as an incentive toward the fulfillment of the law of God, please let the writers of the Denzinger-Bergoglio know. Our theologians were unable to find anything after exhaustive evaluation.
But the topic at hand concerns the use of technology in child education. Without ever mentioning the non-negotiable precedence of Catholic education, Francis proposes “creative alternatives” for the utilization of electronic devices and the mass media, considered by him as an important part of modern life. It is supposedly necessary to know how to take due advantage of these assets so that the members of a family may unite, love one another and share experiences. And this would signify a true success story in the field of education.
Have we forgotten the incessant waves of immorality that enter the family circle through the Internet, television and the like? And what about the immorality and satanic practices to with children fall prey under the negligent gaze of parents? Who can convince us that it is impossible to undergo grave danger, but rather auspicious to be an unsullied Christian with navigating on any of these universally touted devices?
As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church which goes out to the streets and a Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first. Those “streets” are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively. The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone. We are called to show that the Church is the home of all. Are we capable of communicating the image of such a Church? Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ. In the area of communications too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts. Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages. (Message for the 48th World Communications Day, June 1, 2014)
Enter the various parts of our study
II – What does God expect from parents within the educative process of their children?
III – The mission of the Church is to influence human society with its doctrine
I – Are parents today conscious of the real risks that new forms of media pose for children and adolescents? Hasn’t the Magisterium already warned against these causes of perdition in souls?
At the same time, however, let them look to the: profound changes which are taking place among nations, and let them exert themselves to keep modern man, intent as he is on the science and technology of today’s world from becoming a stranger to things divine; rather, let them awaken in him a yearning for that truth and: charity which God has revealed. (Vatican Council II. Decree Ad gentes, no. 11, December 7, 1965)
In this connection, it is wise to be alert to the growing influence which the mass media, and especially television, are exercising on the developing minds of the young, particularly as regards their vision of man, of the world and of relationships with others; for the vision furnished them by the media often differs profoundly from that which the family would wish to transmit to them. Parents, in many cases, do not show sufficient concern about this. Generally, they pay vigilant attention to the type of friends with whom their children associate, but do not exercise a similar vigilance regarding the ideas which the radio, the television, records, papers and comics carry into the “protected” and “safe” intimacy of their homes. And so the mass media often enter the lives of the youngest members of the family with no possibility of the necessary explanations or corrections from parents or other educators which could neutralize any harmful elements and which could equally employ the many valuable aspects to assist in the process by which children are gradually transformed into well-adjusted men and women. (John Paul II. Message for the 14th World communications day, May 18, 1980)
In short: it is the duty of parents to educate themselves, and to educate their children, to appreciate the value of communication, to make an intelligent choice between the programmes available to them, and then, having made that choice, to make a reasonable and conscious judgment as to whether the message coming from the program merits to be accepted or rejected. In families where this kind of control is exercised, the media will be less a danger to the well-being and proper functioning of the home, but will, on the contrary, be a valuable aid in preparing the gradually maturing younger members to take their place in society. (John Paul II. Message for the 14th World communications day, May 18, 1980)
Indeed, it is necessary to preserve ourselves from the risks of a science and technology that claim total autonomy from the moral norms inscribed in the nature of the human being. (Benedict XVI. Address to the participants of the 20th International Conference on the human genome, November 19, 2005)
The present time is experiencing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication, bringing about an unheard of convergence among the different media and making interactivity possible. […] The dangers of standardization and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, already clearly recognizable in the erosion of the critical spirit, the subordination of truth to the play of opinions, the multiple forms of degradation and humiliation of the person’s intimacy. We are therefore witnessing a “pollution of the spirit; it makes us smile less, makes our faces gloomier, less likely to greet each other or look each other in the eye” (Address for the Immaculate Conception, Piazza di Spagna, 8 December 2009). (Benedict XVI. Address to the participants of a congress organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference, April 24, 2010)
The new media are powerful tools for education and cultural enrichment, for commercial activity and political participation, for intercultural dialogue and understanding; and, as we point out in the document that accompanies this one,2 they also can serve the cause of religion. Yet this coin has another side. Media of communication that can be used for the good of persons and communities can be used to exploit, manipulate, dominate, and corrupt. The Internet is the latest and in many respects most powerful in a line of media — telegraph, telephone, radio, television — that for many people have progressively eliminated time and space as obstacles to communication during the last century and a half. It has enormous consequences for individuals, nations, and the world. (Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Ethics in Internet, no. 1-2, February 22, 2002)
This year, in harmony with the theme of the coming Synod of Bishops which will be considering the problems confronting the family in the changed circumstances of modern times, we are invited to focus our reflection on the relationship between the mass media and the family. One circumstance which intimately affects all families today is the prevalence of the social communications media: the press, the cinema, the radio, and television. It is a rare home indeed to which entry has not been gained by one or other of these. Where once, not very long ago, the family consisted of parents and children with the addition, perhaps, of a relative or two or a servant, now the circle is, in a sense, extended to admit the more or less permanent “company” of announcers, newsreaders, entertainers, commentators on sport and current affairs, with frequent visits as well from famous and influential people of every nationality, persuasion and profession. It is a state of affairs with very great potential for good, but also with built in risks that may not be disregarded. The family of today suffers its share of the strong tensions and of the growing disorientation which is affecting modern social life in general. Certain of the stabilizing factors which in the past helped to ensure its solid internal cohesion have now been diminished or have altogether disappeared. Formerly, there were compelling reciprocal interests and the demands of tasks in which every member had to take part, to keep the family together in almost uninterrupted community throughout the working hours, thus permitting it to play a decisive part in the training and education of the children. In today’s altered working conditions, however, the members of the family are often widely separated from each other for the greater part of the day. The obvious difficulties of this situation can be seriously aggravated by the communications media. If media programmes frequently present a distorted picture of what a family is, or caricature family life, or if they misrepresent or play down the family’s function as an educator; members of the family, accepting these distortions passively and uncritically, may quite easily begin to imitate the conduct and adopt the attitudes presented to them notwithstanding its deficiencies or superficiality. It may not occur to them to question the values implied, nor may they have the opportunity or the capacity, even if they do, to challenge the producers or to engage in constructive dialogue with them on the issues. There is the further risk, – it is real and great, – that the family may abdicate the responsibility which rightly belongs to it of shaping the children’s attitudes to life and training their sense of values, and may cede it unwittingly to the media. (John Paul II. Message for the 14th World communications day, May 18, 1980)
II –What does God expect from parents within the educative process of their children?
A formation which forgot or, worse still, deliberately neglected to direct the eyes and hearts of youth to the heavenly country would be an injustice to youth, an injustice against the inalienable duties and rights of the Christian family […] The crime of high treason against the ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (1Tim 6:15; cf. Rev 19:6) perpetrated by an education that is either indifferent or opposed to Christianity, the reversal of ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’ (Mt 19:14), would bear most bitter fruits. […] The souls of children given to their parents by God and consecrated in Baptism with the royal character of Christ, are a sacred charge over which watches the jealous love of God. The same Christ Who pronounced the words ‘Suffer little children to come unto me’ has threatened, for all His mercy and goodness, with fearful evils, those who give scandal to those so dear to His heart. Now what scandal is more permanently harmful to generation after generation, than a formation of youth which is misdirected towards a goal that alienates from Christ ‘the Way and the Truth and the Life’ and leads to open or hidden apostasy from Christ? […] Of all that exists on the face of the earth, the soul alone has deathless life. A system of education that should not respect the sacred precincts of the Christian family, protected by God’s holy law, that should attack its foundations, bar to the young the way to Christ, to the Savior’s fountains of life and joy (cf. Is 12:3), that should consider apostasy from Christ and the Church as a proof of fidelity to the people or a particular class’s word: ‘They that depart from thee, shall be written in the earth’ (Jer 17:13). (Pius XII. Encyclical Summi pontificatus, no. 22.214.171.124, October 20, 2010)
Indeed never has there been so much discussion about education as nowadays; never have exponents of new pedagogical theories been so numerous, or so many methods and means devised, proposed and debated, not merely to facilitate education, but to create a new system infallibly efficacious, and capable of preparing the present generations for that earthly happiness which they so ardently desire. The reason is that men, created by God to His image and likeness and destined for Him Who is infinite perfection realize today more than ever amid the most exuberant material progress, the insufficiency of earthly goods to produce true happiness either for the individual or for the nations. And hence they feel more keenly in themselves the impulse towards a perfection that is higher, which impulse is implanted in their rational nature by the Creator Himself. This perfection they seek to acquire by means of education. But many of them with, it would seem, too great insistence on the etymological meaning of the word, pretend to draw education out of human nature itself and evolve it by its own unaided powers. Such easily fall into error, because, instead of fixing their gaze on God, first principle and last end of the whole universe, they fall back upon themselves, becoming attached exclusively to passing things of earth; and thus their restlessness will never cease till they direct their attention and their efforts to God, the goal of all perfection. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divinii illius Magistri, no. 3-4, December 31, 1929)
The scope and aim of Christian education as here described, appears to the worldly as an abstraction, or rather as something that cannot be attained without the suppression or dwarfing of the natural faculties, and without a renunciation of the activities of the present life, and hence inimical to social life and temporal prosperity, and contrary to all progress in letters, arts and sciences, and all the other elements of civilization. […] The true Christian does not renounce the activities of this life, he does not stunt his natural faculties; but he develops and perfects them, by coordinating them with the supernatural. He thus ennobles what is merely natural in life and secures for it new strength in the material and temporal order, no less then in the spiritual and eternal. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divinii illius Magistri, no. 98, December 31, 1929)
‘Folly is bound up in the heart of a child and the rod of correction shall drive it away.’ (Prov 22:15) Disorderly inclinations then must be corrected, good tendencies encouraged and regulated from tender childhood, and above all the mind must be enlightened and the will strengthened by supernatural truth and by the means of grace, without which it is impossible to control evil impulses, impossible to attain to the full and complete perfection of education intended by the Church, which Christ has endowed so richly with divine doctrine and with the Sacraments, the efficacious means of grace. Hence every form of pedagogic naturalism which in any way excludes or weakens supernatural Christian formation in the teaching of youth, is false. […] But alas! it is clear from the obvious meaning of the words and from experience, that what is intended by not a few, is the withdrawal of education from every sort of dependence on the divine law. So today we see, strange sight indeed, educators and philosophers who spend their lives in searching for a universal moral code of education, as if there existed no decalogue, no gospel law, no law even of nature stamped by God on the heart of man, promulgated by right reason, and codified in positive revelation by God Himself in the ten commandments. These innovators are wont to refer contemptuously to Christian education as “heteronomous,” “passive”, “obsolete,” because founded upon the authority of God and His holy law. Such men are miserably deluded in their claim to emancipate, as they say, the child, while in reality they are making him the slave of his own blind pride and of his disorderly affections, which, as a logical consequence of this false system, come to be justified as legitimate demands of a so-called autonomous nature. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divinii illius Magistri, no. 59–60.62–63, December 31, 1929)
It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum educationis, no. 3, October 28, 1965)
A piety which was felt as a child, but not cared for in adolescence, often results unfortunately, in the youth who opens himself to the world, in a veritable shipwreck in the faith. This phenomenon, because of its gravity, attracts the serious analysis of any educator who is conscious of his mission. It is a principle of Catholic pedagogy that the essence consists in collaboration with divine grace for the formation of the true and perfect Christian. […] The adolescent is at the age in which he should make efforts on his own to discover his being and form his personality: it is the duty of his educators, especially his spiritual director to help him in this undertaking. Son of God, member of the Mystical Body of Christ, he has his proper place in the Church. This is how Saint John considers it when he speaks to adolescents: Scribo vobis, adulescentes, quoniam vicistis malignum (1Jn 2:13). The Church does not fail to recognize the riches which youth brings, and to foment their legitimate evolution and development. For this reason, from the most tender age, it puts so much interest in the task of their education in the life of faith, and at the same time in the formation of their conscience, together with learning the upright use of the conscience. (John XXIII. Message to the participants of the VII Inter-American Congress on Catholic Education, January 10, 1960)
It is a common complaint, unfortunately too well founded, that there are large numbers of Christians in our own time who are entirely ignorant of those truths necessary for salvation. And when we mention Christians, We refer not only to the masses or to those in the lower walks of life – for these find some excuse for their ignorance in the fact that the demands of their harsh employers hardly leave them time to take care of themselves or of their dear ones – but We refer to those especially who do not lack culture or talents and, indeed, are possessed of abundant knowledge regarding things of the world but live rashly and imprudently with regard to religion. It is hard to find words to describe how profound is the darkness in which they are engulfed and, what is most deplorable of all, how tranquilly they repose there. (Pius X. Acerbo nimis, no. 2, April 15, 1905)
Oppose then, the pernicious efforts which seek to completely distance religion from education and from schools, or at least to found on a purely naturalistic foundation schools and education itself, that ideal of the task of teaching enriched by the inestimable treasure of a faith which is felt and lived, by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Strive that your children and youth, as they progress in the way of years, also receive a religious formation which is ever more ample and well-based: remembering to take into account that the full and deep awareness of thee religious truths, as well as the doubts and difficulties, normally appear in the last year higher study, especially if the student is in contact, as is practically unavoidable today, with persons contrary to Christian doctrine; and so religious instruction demands, with all right, a place of honor in the programs of the universities and the centers for post-graduate studies. Do this in such a way that this instruction is closely united to the holy fear of God, the habit of recollecting oneself in prayer, and the full and conscious participation in the spirit of the liturgical year of Holy Mother Church, source of innumerable graces; but in this work, proceed with caution and prudence, so that it may always be the young person who is always seeking something more and little by little, working on his own he gradually learns how to live and proceed in his life of faith.(Pius XII. Radio message for the closing of the Inter-American Congress on Catholic Education, October 6, 1948)
From a tender age they should be instructed zealously and deeply on the doctrine of salvation and the Commandments of our holy Religion, and be formed in piety, purity of customs, sense of responsibility and culture. In schools, principally, religious teaching should be the principal and most important part of all teaching and education, in such a way that the knowledge of all things taught in childhood is nothing but an addition. For this reason, when, in the above-mentioned schools, the method of education does not rest on the most intimate union of all of the subjects with religious teaching, the youth are exposed to the greatest dangers. (Pius IX. Letter Quum non sine, July 1864)
Intellectual catechesis will be of little efficacy unless accompanied by an education that considers not only the intelligence, but also the will and the heart of the adolescent: religion embraces the whole man; it is their overall comportment in life that needs to be oriented according to the Christian message by implementing a complete pedagogy of spiritual life so that the youth become aware of the correspondence that exists between the truths that they are taught to believe, and the interior aspirations which spring from their personality towards the ideals of justice, charity and moral rectitude. (John XXIII. Message to the participants of the VII Inter-American Congress on Catholic Education, January 10, 1960)
Childhood, adolescence and youth are times of an extraordinary flourishing of sentiments and affections. The educator should take advantage of this. The heart has sections that are little explored, almost unknown. The center of the heart, so to say, is love. It is necessary to purify love, transform human sentimentality into refined and sublime love; in charity, in charity towards God and towards neighbor. Control anger, help one’s neighbor, subject sensibility to reason, to the teachings of the faith, to the zeal for the glory of God. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 411)
Only religion is capable of beginning and finishing the great work of a true education. Without religion there is no fruit to be had among youth. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, p. 428)
Impurity is the vice that causes most damage in youth. Morality: this is what is most important! […] It is necessary to always keep the boys busy. […] If we do not keep them occupied, they will seek occupation, and certainly with thoughts and things that are not good. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 429)
My sons, detach yourselves from earthly things. Imitate the little birds when they want to leave the nest. They start to leave the edge of the nest, they flap their little wings, they try to lift into the air, they try out their strength. So should you do too: flap your wings a little to rise toward heaven… Begin with little things, with what is necessary for your eternal salvation. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pg. 412)
Young people, accustom yourselves to saying to the devil: I cannot, I have only one soul! This is true Christian logic. Because of this, purity of intention, do that which pleases God, obey God. The benefit is: the world is most ungrateful, it is impossible to keep it happy; the best counsel that can be given is to not expect recompense from the world, but only from God. (Saint John Bosco. Biografía y escritos (Biography and Writings), 2nd edition, Madrid: BAC, 1967, pp. 410–411)
But what sea is crueller than our fickle world? What sea so changeable, so deep, so swiftly stirred by the breath of impure spirits? […] I assure you that there is no danger more hidden than the sweet pleasures of the world. While charming and seducing the soul, they destroy you, and — so to speak — dash to pieces your mind and your intelligence on the rocks of bodily pleasure. (Saint Ambrose of Milan. Commentary of Saint Ambrose of Milan on the Gospel according to Saint Luke, Book Four, no. 3, pg. 91)
Do you see not even the eyes of the body, that when they abide in smoke they are always weeping; but when they are in clear air, and in a meadow, and in fountains and gardens, they become more quick-sighted and more healthy? Like this is the soul’s eye also, for should it feed in the meadow of spiritual oracles, it will be clear and piercing, and quick of sight; but should it depart into the smoke of the things of this life, it will weep without end, and wail both now and hereafter. For indeed the things of this life are like smoke. (Saint John Chrysostom. Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily 2, no.9)
The time of life is short; we should then prepare for death, which is rapidly approaching and to prepare for that awful moment, let us reflect that everything in this world shall soon end. Hence, the Apostle tells those who suffer in this life to be as if they suffered not, because the miseries of this life shall soon pass away, and they who save their souls shall be happy for eternity; and he exhorts those who enjoy the goods of the earth to be as if they enjoyed them not, because they must one day leave all things; and if they lose their souls, they shall be miserable for ever. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Sermons for all the Sundays in the Year, Sermon IX, no. 13, pg. 42)
But be yourselves also in your own way serving Christ, by good lives, by giving alms, by preaching His name and doctrine as you can; and every father of a family also, be acknowledging in this name the affection he owes as a parent to his family. For Christ’s sake, and for the sake of life eternal, let him be warning, and teaching, and exhorting, and correcting all his household; let him show kindliness, and exercise discipline; and so in his own house he will be filling an ecclesiastical and kind of episcopal office, and serving Christ, that he may be with Him for ever. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Tractate 51 on the Gospel of Saint John, no. 13)
Suffering is also part of the truth of our life. So, by seeking to shield the youngest from every difficulty and experience of suffering, we risk raising brittle and ungenerous people, despite our good intentions: indeed, the capacity for loving corresponds to the capacity for suffering and for suffering together. We thus arrive, dear friends of Rome, at what is perhaps the most delicate point in the task of education: finding the right balance between freedom and discipline. If no standard of behaviour and rule of life is applied even in small daily matters, the character is not formed and the person will not be ready to face the trials that will come in the future. The educational relationship, however, is first of all the encounter of two kinds of freedom, and successful education means teaching the correct use of freedom. As the child gradually grows up, he becomes an adolescent and then a young person; we must therefore accept the risk of freedom and be constantly attentive in order to help him to correct wrong ideas and choices. However, what we must never do is to support him when he errs, to pretend we do not see the errors or worse, that we share them as if they were the new boundaries of human progress. (Benedict XVI. Letter to diocese of Rome on the urgent task of educating young people, January 21, 2008)
III – The mission of the Church is to influence human society with its doctrine
We feel We owe no greater debt to Our office and to Our time than to testify to the truth with Apostolic firmness: “to give testimony to the truth.” This duty necessarily entails the exposition and confutation of errors and human faults. (Pius XII. Encyclical Summi pontificatus, no. 19, October 20, 2010)
There is no doubt that human society will always suffer the most sensible damage where the directing authority of the Church and its healthy influence is eliminated from private and public education, because on this education depends, to a great extent, the well-being of spiritual and material matters. By this exclusion, human society will little by little lose that Christian spirit which alone could bear the foundations of public order and tranquility and that alone is capable of giving origin to the true and beneficial progress of civilization and of providing man with all the means needed for the achievement of the goal which is beyond the frontiers of this life, that is to say, the achievement of eternal salvation. Furthermore, an education which not only seeks to communicate strictly the knowledge of natural things, and to teach the purposes of the earthly social life, but also strays from the truths revealed by God, could fall no less into the spirit of error and lies. And an education which, without the help of doctrine and Christian morality, attempts to form the young hearts, forming the souls which are molded as easily, as wax is molded, and become corrupted with the same ease, cannot engender anything but a generation that will only guide itself by sensual desires and its own opinions. It will constitute, in this way, the greatest disgrace for families as well as for public life. (Pius IX. Letter Quum non sine, 14 de julio 1864)
Such are the fruits of Christian education. Their price and value is derived from the supernatural virtue and life in Christ which Christian education forms and develops in man. Of this life and virtue Christ our Lord and Master is the source and dispenser. By His example He is at the same time the universal model accessible to all, especially to the young in the period of His hidden life, a life of labor and obedience, adorned with all virtues, personal, domestic and social, before God and men. Now all this array of priceless educational treasures which We have barely touched upon, is so truly a property of the Church as to form her very substance, since she is the mystical body of Christ, the immaculate spouse of Christ, and consequently a most admirable mother and an incomparable and perfect teacher. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius Magistri, no. 100–101, December 30, 1929)
Nor should the exercise of this right be considered undue interference, but rather maternal care on the part of the Church in protecting her children from the grave danger of all kinds of doctrinal and moral evil. Moreover this watchfulness of the Church not merely can create no real inconvenience, but must on the contrary confer valuable assistance in the right ordering and well-being of families and of civil society; for it keeps far away from youth the moral poison which at that inexperienced and changeable age more easily penetrates the mind and more rapidly spreads its baneful effects. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius Magistri, no. 24, December 30, 1929)
Feeling very keenly the weighty responsibility of diligently caring for the moral and religious education of all her children, the Church must be present with her own special affection and help for the great number who are being trained in schools that are not Catholic. This is possible by the witness of the lives of those who teach and direct them, by the apostolic action of their fellow-students, but especially by the ministry of priests and laymen who give them the doctrine of salvation in a way suited to their age and circumstances and provide spiritual aid in every way the times and conditions allow. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum educationis, no. 7 October 28, 1965)
People today need to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of their lives. They need to recognize that implanted within them is a deep thirst for God. They need to be given opportunities to drink from the wells of his infinite love. It is easy to be entranced by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and technology place before us; it is easy to make the mistake of thinking we can obtain by our own efforts the fulfillment of our deepest needs. This is an illusion. Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain (cf. Spe Salvi, 31), our lives are ultimately empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). The goal of all our pastoral and catechetical work, the object of our preaching, and the focus of our sacramental ministry should be to help people establish and nurture that living relationship with “Christ Jesus, our hope” (1 Tim 1:1). (Benedict XVI. Address for the celebration of Vespers and meeting with the bishops of the United States of America, April 16, 2008)
Every disciple of Christ has the right to receive the word of the faith neither amputated, nor falsified, nor reduced, but rather complete and integral, in all its rigor and in all its vigor. (John Paul II. Address to teachers and students of the Massimo and Santa Maria Institutes in Rome, no.3. February 9, 1980)
Amidst all the aberrations of human thought, infatuated by a false emancipation from every law and curb; and amidst the awful corruptions of human malice, the Church rises up like a bright lighthouse warning by the clearness of its beam every deviation to right or left from the way of truth, and pointing out to one and all the right course that they should follow. Woe if ever this beacon should be — We do not say extinguished, for that is impossible owing to the unfailing promises on which it is founded — but if it should be hindered from shedding far and wide its beneficent light! We see already with Our own eyes whither the world has been brought by its arrogant rejection of divine revelation, and its pursuit of false philosophical and moral theories that bear the specious name of “science.” That it has not fallen still lower down the slope of error and vice is due to the guidance of the light of Christian truth that always shines in the world. (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad catholici sacerdotii, no. 19, December 20, 1935)