What is the role of the Church related to morality?
God assists us in living the moral life through the Church, who is our mother and teacher. The faith of the Church is found in its Creed and in its ordinary teaching, as articulated by its shepherds, the pope, and the bishops in communion with him.
Jesus said to the Apostles, “Whoever listens to you listens to me” (Lk 10:16). In the Church, when we deal with matters of faith and morals, the authoritative voice of Christ is exercised by the pope and bishops, successors of Peter and the Apostles who form the Magisterium. They are guided by the Holy Spirit, who abides with the Church to lead us into all truth.
The Church hears the perennial questions that each person asks at some point: “How shall I live?” “What values or principles shall I accept?” “What norms shall I make my own?” “What gives meaning to my life?” To answer questions such as these, we turn to a wise teacher. Christ is the ultimate teacher, and he continues to be heard in and through the Church today. The Catechism notes that “the Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors” (CCC, no. 2033). In the task of teaching and applying the vision and practice of Christian morality, the Church relies on the dedication of pastors and the studies of theologians, as well as the contributions of all people of goodwill (cf. CCC, no. 2038).
The response based on faith that Catholics must give to the Church’s teaching authority—the Magisterium—extends also to moral principles:
The Church, the “pillar and bulwark of the truth,” “has received this solemn command of Christ from the apostles to announce the saving truth.” “To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls.” (CCC, no. 2032, citing 1 Tm 3:15; LG, no. 17; CIC, can. 747 §2)
You can read more from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, order your own copy, or read questions about it at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
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