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On August 6th, the Feast of the Transfiguration, the Church marked the 25th anniversary of Pope St John Paul II’s landmark encyclical, Veritatis splendor. St John Paul himself explained the reason for the encyclical: Although the Church has “at all times developed and proposed a moral teaching regarding the many different spheres of human life,” in our times, “it seems necessary to reflect on the whole of the Church’s moral teaching” which “risk being distorted or denied.”
To understand the main themes of Veritatis splendor, we spoke with Moral Theologian Dr Matthew Tsakanikas, the head of the Theology Department at Christendom College in the United States. Pope John Paul touches on many themes in the encyclical, he said, but went on to point out three of particular importance.
Point - Dr - Tsakanikas - Beginning - Veritatis
The first main point, Dr Tsakanikas said, can be seen at the very beginning of Veritatis splendor: All of us are called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. In particular, he said “That means that we are loved by God, that faith in Christ enables us to live a moral life, because we believe in God’s love for us.”
God’s love for us indicates a second main point, that “God only wants our good, God wants our happiness.” That naturally leads to the question, “What is our true happiness?” Quoting Saint Augustine, Dr Tsakanikas says “Happiness is joy in the truth.” True happiness, he explains can be found in healthy relationships, relationships of love and friendship with God and others. “This desire for truth and goodness is what leads us to recognize that the moral life is about loving others, and not using [them].”
Point - Dr - Tsakanikas
The final point emphasized by Dr Tsakanikas (“although there are many more”) is that “there are freely chosen...
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