Pope Benedict XVI has issued a powerful Lenten message for the world’s Catholics in which he calls upon the faithful to remember the Christian tradition of “fraternal correction for eternal life” and not remain silent in the face of evil.
According to Alessandro Speciale, writing for the Vatican Insider, the Pope’s reflection is based on a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews: “We pay attention to each other, to stimulate one another to love and good works.”
For the pope, “paying attention” also means not keeping silent in the face of evil and sin, and being willing to denounce sinners and calling them to account for their actions when necessary. This practice has traditionally been known as “fraternal correction for eternal life.”
“Today we are generally very sensitive when we talk about care and love for the physical and material good of others, but we are almost completely silent on the spiritual responsibility towards our brothers,” the pope writes.
However, communities that are truly mature in faith realize “a brother’s bodily health is not all that we take to heart, but also that of his soul for his ultimate destiny.”
“In our world that is steeped in individualism it is necessary to rediscover the importance of fraternal correction, to walk together towards holiness” and avert the danger of a sort of “spiritual anesthesia,” he wrote.
The Pope then calls upon the faithful not to “remain silent in the face of evil” in spite of the prevailing mentality in today’s society that “accepts any moral choice in the name of individual freedom.”
He warns us against falling into the same trap, of allowing the need for human respect or convenience to stop us from warning our brothers against the ways of thinking and acting that contradict the truth and do not follow the path of good,” he said.
But we must be careful not to let our reproach be motivated “by a spirit of condemnation or recrimination; it is always motivated by love and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for his brother’s welfare,” he adds.
“Our existence is correlated with that of others, both in good and evil,” and therefore “both sin and acts of love have also a social dimension,” he said.
This is why we must “be attentive to one another” and “not show ourselves as distant, indifferent to the fate of pir brothers” while today “the prevailing attitude is just the opposite: indifference and disinterest which arise from selfishness, masked by a semblance of respect for privacy.”
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