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Pope tells Catholics to follow Church teaching in public life

Pope John Paul II said US bishops need to remind lay Catholics of their duty to follow authoritative church teachings, whether in private life or in social roles.

Catholic News Service reports that the separation between church and state should be respected, but there can be no separation between one's personal faith and one's political and professional participation, he said.

The pope addressed the theme of the laity in a talk on Saturday to a group of US bishops making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican. He began his remarks by saying he appreciated the "outstanding contribution" lay Catholics have made to the growth and expansion of the church in the United States.

But the pope said "serious pastoral problems" have been created by ambiguity over the relationships among personal conscience, truth and the social order.

He said lay men and women should be encouraged to harmonize their rights and duties as members of the church and as members of society. That means recognising that in all worldly affairs they must be "guided by their Christian conscience," he said.

"A clear and authoritative reaffirmation of these fundamental principles of the lay apostolate will help to overcome the serious pastoral problems created by a growing failure to understand the church's binding obligation to remind the faithful of their duty in conscience to act in accordance with her authoritative teaching," he said.

Catholic laity must follow authoritative church teachings, pope says (Catholic News Service 6/12/04)

Text: Papal Address to Bishops of Provinces of Louisville, Mobile and New Orleans (Zenit 5/12/04)

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7 Dec 2004