Josemaría Escrivá Obras

The Second Vatican Council has often used the expression 'People of God' to designate the Church. It has thus shown clearly the common responsibility of all Christians in the single mission of this People of God. What, in your opinion, should be the characteristics of the 'necessary public opinion in the Church,' of which Pius XII already spoke, in order to reflect effectively this common responsibility? How is the phenomenon of 'public opinion in the Church' affected by the particular relationships of authority and obedience which exist in the heart of the Christian community?

I do not think there can be such a thing as truly Christian obedience unless that obedience is voluntary and responsible. The children of God are not made of stone. Nor are they corpses. They are intelligent and free beings. And they all have been raised to the same supernatural order as those who hold authority. But no one can use his intelligence and freedom properly, whether it be to obey or to give an opinion, unless he has acquired an adequate Christian education. The problem of 'necessary public opinion in the Church' is fundamentally the same as the problem of the doctrinal training of the faithful. Certainly the Holy Spirit distributes his abundant gifts among the members of the People of God, all of whom are responsible for the mission of the Church. But far from exempting anyone from the obligation of acquiring adequate doctrinal training his action makes it more pressing.

By 'doctrine' I mean the knowledge which each person should have of the mission of the Church as a whole and of his particular role, his specific responsibilities, in that mission. This, as the Holy Father has frequently reminded us, is the colossal task of education which the Church must undertake in the post-conciliar period. The solution to the problem which you mention, as well as to other yearnings which are felt today in the heart of the Church, depends directly, I feel, on how well this task is done. Certainly, more or less 'prophetic' intuitions of some uninstructed 'charismatics' cannot guarantee the necessary public opinion among the People of God.

Regarding the forms of expression of this public opinion, I don't think it is a question of organs and institutions. A diocesan pastoral council, the columns of a newspaper, even though it isn't officially Catholic, or even a personal letter from one of the faithful to his bishop, can all be equally effective. There are many legitimate ways in which the faithful can express their opinion. They neither can nor should be strait-jacketed by creating a new body or institution. And much less if it meant having an institution which ran the risk of being monopolized or made use of, as could so easily happen, by a group or clique of official Catholics, regardless of their tendencies or orientation. That would endanger the prestige of the hierarchy itself and it would seem a mockery to the other members of the People of God.

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