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The Guardian of Freedom

5/17/2005 - 4:03 AM PST

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By: Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Catholic Online

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“Since man's true freedom is not found in everything that the various systems and individuals see and propagate as freedom, the Church, because of her divine mission, becomes all the more the guardian of this freedom, which is the condition and basis for the human person's true dignity. Jesus Christ meets the man of every age, including our own, with the same words: "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free". These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world.” Pope John Paul II ( Redemptor hominis (12), Encyclical Letter “The Redeemer of Man, March 4, 1979)

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One of the great themes of the pontificate of Pope John Paul the Great was his teaching concerning - and his insistence upon- a true and authentic definition of human freedom to guide the lives of individuals, communities, Nations and the international community. John Paul was a true freedom fighter. Whether it was in his unashamed opposition to State tyrannies, both left and right, or his insistence upon the existence of absolute moral truths that are intended to guide all human behavior, he proclaimed, in both word and in deed, that the struggle for freedom is the struggle of our age. Now, his friend and successor, Pope Benedict XVI has taken up this important mission.

In a recent homily in Rome, Pope Benedict spoke of his Petrine mission. He reminded those gathered that "Peter expressed in the first place, on behalf of the apostles, the profession of faith: 'You are the Christ, the son of the living God.' This is the task of all the Successors of Peter -- to be the guide in the profession of faith in Christ, the son of the living God… this teaching authority frightens many men within and outside the Church. They wonder if it is not a threat to the freedom of conscience, if it is not a presumption that is opposed to freedom of thought. It is not so….The power conferred by Christ to Peter and his Successors is, in the absolute sense, a mandate to serve. The authority to teach, in the Church, entails a commitment to the service of obedience to the faith. The Pope is not an absolute monarch, whose thought and will are law. On the contrary, the Pope's ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his word… He must not proclaim his own ideas, but constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to the word of God, in face of attempts to adapt and water down, as well as of all opportunism."

The Catholic Church exists to proclaim to every age the truth concerning authentic human freedom. According to Pope Benedict , this was Pope John Paul II's mission, "…when, in face of all attempts, apparently benevolent, in the face of erroneous interpretations of freedom, he underlined in an unequivocal way the inviolability of the human being, the inviolability of human life, from its conception until natural death." Clearly, this work of exposing the “erroneous interpretations of freedom” and proclaiming the full truth concerning its constitutive nature, now continues under the inspired, intelligent, profoundly spiritual and deeply theologically leadership of Pope Benedict XVI. In one of his seminal works entitled “Introduction to Christianity” he wrote “…one could very well describe Christianity as a philosophy of freedom.”

And, so it is.

Philosophy deals with the existential questions. We hear the men and women of this age asking these fundamental questions. Central to them all is the nature of freedom and how it is to be exercised. This contemporary neo-pagan and post modernist age has become intoxicated on the wine of a false notion of freedom as a raw power over others who are weaker and the “right” to do whatever one wills.In this same homily, the Pontiff exclaimed "The freedom to kill is not true freedom, but a tyranny that reduces the human being to slavery." While calling what is wrong a “right”, contemporary men and women are bound in the chains of their own self delusion, materialism and nihilism.

Yet, more and more people are beginning to see the real horror of the “culture of death” and the deceptions of materialism. The new slavery of this age treats persons as property to be used and disposed at will, even for convenience. The real task of this hour, and the one for which the Catholic Church exists, is to proclaim a different way, the “more excellent way” that St Paul writes of in his letter to the Corinthians, the way of love.(I Cor. 12 and 13) That is also the way of authentic human freedom. It now falls upon ...

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