Relativism Demands Credible Witness of Church, Says Pope

"Word of God Must Not Be Chained," He Tells a Group of U.S. Bishops

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II called for a "forthright and credible" witness of the faith in the face of the spread of agnosticism and relativism in Western societies.



The Pope made this appeal today when receiving in audience U.S. bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee, at the close of their five-yearly visit to Rome.

"An effective proclamation of the Gospel in contemporary Western society will need to confront directly the widespread spirit of agnosticism and relativism which has cast doubt on reason's ability to know the truth which alone satisfies the human heart's restless quest for meaning," the Holy Father said.

"At the same time, it must firmly defend the Church as being, in Christ, the authentic minister of the Gospel and the 'pillar and bulwark' of its saving truth," he added.

He acknowledged that this "responsibility for the truth demands of the Church a forthright and credible witness to the deposit of faith."

"For this reason, the new evangelization calls for an unambiguous presentation of faith as a supernatural virtue by which we are united to God and become sharers in his own knowledge, in response to his revealed word," John Paul II said in his address delivered in English.

"The presentation of an authentically biblical understanding of the act of faith, one which emphasizes both its cognitive and its fiducial dimensions, will help to overcome purely subjective approaches and facilitate a deeper appreciation of the Church's role in authoritatively proposing the faith which is to be believed and put into practice," the Pope said.

"An essential element of the Church's dialogue with contemporary society must also be a correct presentation, in catechesis and preaching, of the relationship between faith and reason," he observed.

"The word of God must not be chained; instead, it must resound before the world in all its liberating truth as a word of grace and salvation," the Holy Father said.

He added: "This will require a profound renewal of the missionary and prophetic sense of the whole People of God, and the conscious mobilization of the Church's resources in the work of an evangelization which enables individual Christians to give an account of the hope that is within them and the Church as a whole to speak courageously and with a united voice in addressing the great moral and spiritual issues confronting the men and women of our time."