Pope says the Church should promote the dignity of every person and render justice to the victims of abuse

Discernment is also needed in dissolving the marriage bond "in favorem fidei" and when confronted by “alleged supernatural phenomena”. The synodal path is not about “listening to everyone, undertaking an inquiry and providing results. So many vows, so many vows, so many vows... No.” It is necessary "to continually discern opinions, points of view, reflections.”


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met today with members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the occasion of their Plenary Assembly.

In his address, the pontiff focused on the need to promote the dignity of the person, from birth to natural death, fighting abuses committed within the Church, providing “concrete and solid” indications on “alleged supernatural phenomena,” and promoting discernment even in the dissolution of a marriage and the synodal process.

Francis centred his reflection on three themes: dignity, discernment and faith.

“If brotherhood is the destination the Creator has drawn for the journey of humanity, the main path remains that of recognising the dignity of every human person. In our age, however, marked by so many social, political and even health tensions, the temptation to consider others as strangers or enemies, denying him a real dignity, is growing.

“Therefore, especially at this time, we are called to remember – ‘whether it is convenient or inconvenient’ (2 Tim 4:2), faithfully following a two-thousand-year-old ecclesial teaching –  that the dignity of every human being has an intrinsic character and is valid from the moment of conception until natural death. 

“Precisely, the affirmation of such dignity is the indispensable prerequisite for the protection of a personal and social existence, and also the necessary condition for brotherhood and social friendship to be realised among all the peoples of the earth.”

With respect to discernment, Francis calls it “an art”, increasingly in demand among believers today. “In the changing times that we are going through, on the one hand, believers are faced with unprecedented and complex issues; on the other hand, there is an increase in a need for spirituality that does not always find its point of reference in the Gospel. It so happens that we have to deal not infrequently with alleged supernatural phenomena, for which the people of God must receive certain and solid indications.”

“The exercise of discernment finds an area of necessary application in the fight against abuses of all kinds. With God's help, the Church is implementing with steady determination the commitment to render justice to the victims of the abuses carried out by her members, applying with particular attention and rigour existing canonical legislation.

“In this light I have recently updated the Norms of Delicts (crimes) reserved for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in order to make judicial action more incisive. This alone cannot be enough to stem the problem, but it does constitute a necessary step towards restoring justice, repairing the scandal and reforming the offender.”

"A similar commitment to discernment is also expressed in another area that you deal with daily: the dissolution of the marriage bond in favorem fidei.

"When, by virtue of the Petrine power, the Church grants dissolution to a non-sacramental marriage bond, it is not only a question of putting a canonical end to a marriage, which has already de facto failed; in reality, through this eminently pastoral act, my intention is to always favour the Catholic faith – in favorem fidei! – in the new union and in the family, of which this new marriage will be the centre.”

For Francis, discernment is needed in the synodal path as well. This is not just “listening to everyone, undertaking an inquiry and providing results. So many votes, so many votes, so many votes... No.” It is necessary “to continually discern opinions, points of view, reflections.”

“The last word is faith.” Without it, “the presence of believers in the world would be reduced to that of a humanitarian agency. Faith must be the heart of the life and action of every baptised person. Not a generic or vague faith, as if it were watered down wine that loses value, but a genuine, frank faith, as the Lord wants it.”

"Let us not be satisfied with a lukewarm, habitual, textbook faith. Let us collaborate with the Holy Spirit and collaborate among ourselves so that the fire that Jesus came to bring to the world can continue to burn and inflame the hearts of all.”