VATICAN CITY, MARCH 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The uniqueness of Christ means that there will be novelties and renewal within the Church in every period of history, Benedict XVI says.
The Pope explained this today during the general audience, in which he considered for a second week the saint about whom he did his second doctoral dissertation: Bonaventure.
The Holy Father centered on Bonaventure’s teaching regarding history, which arose in response to a misunderstanding spreading among the Franciscans of his time.
Bonaventure’s assertion, which the Pope explained, was that the works of Christ do not go backward or fail, but progress.
The Church is not immobile, Benedict XVI said, fixed in the past such that novelties can not arise in her.
“St. Bonaventure formulates explicitly the idea of progress, and this is a novelty in comparison with the Fathers of the Church and a great part of his contemporaries,” the Pope explained. “For St. Bonaventure, Christ is no longer, as he was for the Fathers of the Church, the end, but the center of history; history does not end with Christ, but a new period begins.”
One consequence of this regards the understanding of the Fathers of the Church.
“Prevailing up to that moment was the idea that the Fathers of the Church were at the absolute summit of theology, all the following generations could only be their disciples,” the Holy Father noted. “Even St. Bonaventure recognizes the Fathers as teachers for ever, but the phenomenon of St. Francis gave him the certainty that the richness of the word of Christ is inexhaustible and that also new lights can appear in the new generations.
“The uniqueness of Christ also guarantees novelties and renewal in all the periods of history.”
Benedict XVI said that today as well there are those that hold the idea that the Church is in a permanent decline, some even seeing this decline as beginning immediately after the New Testament.
But the Pope said that in reality, the works of Christ do not go backward, but progress.
“What would the Church be without the new spirituality of the Cistercians, of the Franciscans and Dominicans, of the spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and so on?” he said. “This affirmation is also valid today: ‘Opera Christi non deficiunt, sed proficiunt,’ they go forward.”
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