Christian Freedom and Liberation

CONCLUSION The Canticle of the Magnificat 97.Blessed is she who believed (Lk. 1:45). At Elizabeth's greeting, the heart of the Mother of God burst into the song of the Magnificat. It tells us that it is by faith and in faith like that of Mary that the People of God express in words and translate into life the mysterious plan of salvation with its liberating effects upon individual and social existence. It is really in the light of faith that one comes to understand how salvation history is the history of liberation from evil in its most radical form and of the introduction of humanity into the true freedom of the children of God. Mary is totally dependent on her Son and completely directed towards Him by the impulse of her faith; and, at His side, she is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission. It is altogether remarkable that the sense of faith found in the poor leads not only to an acute perception of the mystery of the redeeming cross but also to a love and unshakable trust in the Mother of the Son of God, who is venerated in so many shrines. The sensus fidei of the people of God 98. Pastors and all those who, as priests, laity or men and women religious, often work under very difficult conditions for evangelization and integral human advancement, should be filled with hope when they think of the amazing resources of holiness contained in the living faith of the People of God. These riches of the sensus fidei must be given the chance to come to full flowering and bear abundant fruit. To help the faith of the poor to express itself clearly and to be translated into life, through a profound meditation on the plan of salvation as it unfolds itself in the Virgin of the Magnificat--this is a noble ecclesial task which awaits the theologian. Thus a theology of freedom and liberation which faithfully echoes Mary's Magnificat preserved in the Church's memory is something needed by the times in which we are living. But it would be criminal to take the energies of popular piety and misdirect them towards a purely earthly plan of liberation, which would very soon be revealed as nothing more than an illusion and a cause of new forms of slavery. Those who in this way surrender to the ideologies of the world and to the alleged necessity of violence are no longer being faithful to hope, to hope's boldness and courage, as they are extolled in the hymn of the God of mercy which the Virgin teaches us. Dimensions of an authentic liberation 99. The sensus fidei grasps the very core of the liberation accomplished by the Redeemer. It is from the most radical evil, from sin and the power of death, that He has delivered us in order to restore freedom to itself and to show it the right path. This path is marked out by the supreme commandment, which is the commandment of love. Liberation, in its primary meaning which is salvific, thus extends into a liberating task, as an ethical requirement. Here is to be found the social doctrine of the Church, which illustrates Christian practice on the level of society. The Christian is called to act according to the truth,[144] and thus to work for the establishment of that civilization of love of which Pope Paul VI spoke.[145] The present document, without claiming to be complete, has indicated some of the directions in which it is urgently necessary to undertake in-depth reforms. The primary task, which is a condition for the success of all the others, is an educational one. The love which guides commitment must henceforth bring into being new forms of solidarity. To the accomplishment of these tasks urgently facing the Christian conscience, all people of good will are called. It is the truth of the mystery of salvation at work today in order to lead redeemed humanity towards the perfection of the kingdom which gives the true meaning to the necessary efforts for liberation in the economic, social and political orders and which keeps them from falling into new forms of slavery. The task that lies ahead 100. It is true that before the immensity and the complexity of the task, which can require the gift of self even to an heroic degree, many are tempted to discouragement, skepticism or the recklessness of despair. A formidable challenge is made to hope, both theological and human. The loving Virgin of the Magnificat, who enfolds the Church and humanity in her prayer, is the firm support of hope. For in her we contemplate the victory of divine love which no obstacle can hold back, and we discover to what sublime freedom God raises up the lowly. Along the path which she shows us, the faith which works through love must go forward with great resolve.[146] During an audience granted to the undersigned Prefect, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, approved this instruction, adopted in an ordinary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and ordered it to be published. Given at Rome, from the Congregation, March 22, 1986, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord. JOSEPH CARDINAL RATZINGER Prefect ALBERTO BOVONE Titular Archbishop of Caesarea in Numidia Secretary

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