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Finding Balance: Pope Francis Explores the Virtue of Temperance

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In a continuation of his insightful catechetical series on virtues and vices, Pope Francis delved into the profound significance of temperance, the fourth cardinal virtue, emphasizing its pivotal role in achieving a contented and harmonious life.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


By Catholic Online
4/18/2024 (1 month ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, Temperance

Addressing the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, the Pope underscored the rarity and preciousness of balance, the hallmark of temperance, in a world often inclined towards excess. He highlighted the compatibility of temperance with Gospel principles such as humility, discretion, and meekness, contrasting it with the prevalent culture of impulsivity and boastful speech.

"In a world where many people boast about saying what they think, the temperate person instead prefers to think about what he says," the Pope remarked, encapsulating the essence of temperance.

Emphasizing the virtue's capacity to reconcile extremes, Pope Francis stressed the importance of temperance in upholding absolute principles while demonstrating understanding and empathy towards others. Drawing inspiration from Aristotle's "The Nicomachean Ethics," he underscored the ancient wisdom that self-mastery is fundamental to human flourishing and happiness.

"Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods," the Pope quoted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, elucidating the virtue's foundational role in ethical living.

Temperance, as elucidated by both classical philosophy and Church teaching, was defined by the Pope as the virtue of moderation, essential for maintaining balance in the pursuit of earthly pleasures. He cautioned against the unreliability of those driven solely by impulse, contrasting them with the steadfastness of the temperate individual.

"The temperate person succeeds in holding extremes together: He affirms absolute principles, asserts nonnegotiable values, but also knows how to understand people and shows empathy for them," Pope Francis emphasized, elucidating the virtue's capacity to harmonize moral steadfastness with compassionate understanding.

Concluding his address, Pope Francis reiterated his call for peace in troubled regions such as Ukraine and Gaza, advocating for the liberation of prisoners of war and an end to inhumane treatment.

"The torture of prisoners is a very bad thing; it is not humane," the Pope stated passionately, underscoring the imperative of compassion and justice in the pursuit of peace.

In exploring the virtue of temperance, Pope Francis offered timeless wisdom for navigating the complexities of modern life, reminding believers of the enduring relevance of moral virtues in fostering individual well-being and societal harmony.

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