Ratzinger: The pastoral approach to marriage must be founded on truth


Not sure in what sub-forum this topic would be best. Please move if need be.

I just came upon this letter of written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he was a cardinal. It is very interesting and I thought I share it here.

The pastoral approach to marriage
must be founded on truth

“A series of critical objections against the doctrine and praxis of the Church pertain to questions of a pastoral nature. Some say, for example, that the language used in the ecclesial documents is too legalistic, that the rigidity of law prevails over an understanding of dramatic human situations. They claim that the human person of today is no longer able to The Seven Sacraments Altarpiece (1445-1450, detail) by Rogier Van der Weydenunderstand such language, that Jesus would have had an open ear for the needs of people, particularly for those on the margins of society. They say that the Church, on the other hand, presents herself like a judge who excludes wounded people from the sacraments and from certain public responsibilities.
One can readily admit that the Magisterium’s manner of expression does not seem very easy to understand at times. It needs to be translated by preachers and catechists into a language which relates to people and to their respective cultural environments. The essential content of the Church’s teaching, however, must be upheld in this process. It must not be watered down on allegedly pastoral grounds, because it communicates the revealed truth.
Certainly, it is difficult to make the demands of the Gospel understandable to secularized people. But this pastoral difficulty must not lead to compromises with the truth. In his Encyclical Veritatis splendor, John Paul II clearly rejected so-called pastoral solutions which stand in opposition to the statements of the Magisterium (cf. ibid. 56).”


My understanding is that Pope Francis understand and agrees with all of this and is simply trying to make some bridges for some Catholics to return to the Church and to give them pastoral care in their situations.


Agree. It can be very difficult to return Home especially with all the baggage of secular thinking and propaganda and I doubt that many reverts are in accord with, or immediately willing to accept the Church’s teachings. I certainly wasn’t, however, 13 years on, I am still learning. It can be hard to take in things you don’t like, or that need extra effort, but I believe we travel further with a soft guiding light and gentle touch.

I would rather a full church of Catholics who didn’t know much but were open minded enough to really learn, than one full of people who simply repeated the Church’s teachings without questions or thought. To me the latter seem to have a shaky foundation, whilst the former, with good spiritual guidance will set forth deep roots in faith through rationale, reason and a deep desire to please God.

God-willing more damaged and broken souls will return for healing.


The approach to God and to His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, must be founded on truth. Otherwise you have the cacophony of many different religions, as well as many thousands of Christian sects, with only Christ’s Church having the fullness of truth.

It is up to the bishops and priests to enthuse the laity to live and to spread these truths, and the failure is evident in the fact that so many “Catholics” “feel” that there should be women “priests” and same-sex “marriage” – both oxymoronic.

Poll: majority of Catholics who attend Mass weekly support same-sex marriage, women’s ordination
CWN - October 07, 2013


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