|Reconciliatio et paenitentia|
Latin for 'Reconciliation and Penance'
Apostolic exhortation of Pope John Paul II
|Signature date||2 December 1984|
|Number||4 of 15 of the pontificate|
|Part of a series on|
| Penance and Reconciliation |
in the Catholic Church
Reconciliatio et paenitentia (English: Reconciliation and Penance) is an apostolic exhortation by Pope John Paul II, delivered on 2 December 1984 in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, which grew out of the Sixth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in 1983. The fourth of John Paul II's apostolic exhortations, it presents Jesus as the Reconciler of a shattered world.
John Paul II began the exhortation by recalling from the Gospel of Mark 1:15, the very words with which Jesus began his preaching: "Repent, and believe in the Gospel". Building on that theme, the pope addressed "reconciliation and penance in the mission of the Church today". Continuing his teaching on the mystery of Redemption, the pope presented Jesus as the Reconciler of a shattered world and urged the Church and the world to rediscover the path of penance, the only path that can lead to full reconciliation.
The exhortation has three parts, as well as an introduction and conclusions. The introduction discusses the modern world's divisions and difficulties. It stresses the inherent desire of humanity for reconciliation. The first chapter discusses the fact that the mission of the Church remains the conversion of hearts.
The second part is titled: "The Love That is Greater than Sin" and singles out sin as the cause of the wounds that individuals inflict on themselves, on God and their neighbors. It discusses the personal and social dimensions of sin. The third chapter discusses the means by which the Church fosters penance, reconciliation and healing, returning to the theme of Mark 1:15: "Repent, and believe in the Gospel".
The final part includes a call for unity and conversion of hearts. The teachings on structural sin in this exhortation were also later discussed in the pope's 1987 encyclical Sollicitudo rei socialis.
The pope used the parable of the prodigal son to explain the process of conversion and reconciliation, and that God the Father is "rich in mercy" and always ready to forgive. "Reconciliation is principally a gift of the heavenly Father,"and an initiative on his part. He observes that the older brother also needs to be converted from his selfishness and jealousy. Each person is both the prodigal son and the older brother, both in need of reconciliation.
John Paul describes sin as "...the disobedience of a person who, by a free act, does not acknowledge God's sovereignty over his or her life, at least at that particular moment in which he or she transgresses God's law,"and it is sin which is ultimately the cause of all divisions and conflicts within human society. The exhortation also discussed John Paul II's view of "structural sin". The pope insists on sin as a free personal act. He views "social sin" in three ways: first that personal sin has social effects, second, that some sins directly affect the neighbor, and third that social sin refers to relationships between human communities. The pope rejected the separation and contrasting of personal and social sin in a way that leads to the dilution and eventual abolition of personal sin, and the substitution of social guilt and responsibility in its place.
He concurs with Pope Pius XII's statement that "the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin,"and reaffirms the Church's teaching on the distinction between mortal and venial sins. He deplores a view that all failings are blamed upon society, and the individual is declared innocent of them, or which so emphasizes environmental and historical conditioning and their influences that it reduces man's responsibility to the point of not acknowledging his ability to perform truly human acts and therefore his ability to sin.
Penance is repentance of sins as well as an alternate name for the Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. It also plays a part in confession among Anglicans and Methodists, in which it is a rite, as well as among other Protestants. The word penance derives from Old French and Latin paenitentia, both of which derive from the same root meaning repentance, the desire to be forgiven. Penance and repentance, similar in their derivation and original sense, have come to symbolize conflicting views of the essence of repentance, arising from the controversy as to the respective merits of "faith" and "good works". Word derivations occur in many languages.
Impeccability is the absence of sin. Christianity teaches this to be an attribute of God and therefore it is also attributed to Christ.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the parables of Jesus in the Bible, appearing in Luke 15:11–32. Jesus shares the parable with his disciples, the Pharisees and others.
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Repentance is a stage in Christian salvation where the believer turns away from sin. As a distinct stage in the ordo salutis its position is disputed, with some theological traditions arguing it occurs prior to faith and the Reformed theological tradition arguing it occurs after faith. In Roman Catholic theology repentance is part of the larger theological concept of penance.
Misericordia Dei is the title of an apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II to foster and reemphasize the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The letter is subtitled "On Certain Aspects of the Sacrament of Penance" and was promulgated on 7 April 2002 in Rome, issued as Motu proprio and was signed by him.
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