Before we get to the meat of the next document we’ll examine here, a bit of set-up. Before Pope John Paul II wrote Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, there was a synod.
Some criticized the synods under this pope and his successor for being rubber-stamp affairs, just confirming the pope’s and curia’s ideas. I might see the truth in that, but I also believe the Holy Spirit works in spite of human designs and plans.
My own memories of 1983-84 was the Holy Year of Redemption as declared by the pope. I have a fond recollection of working with other Catholics in my area for a Holy Year celebration of liturgical arts–my first foray beyond a parish and into a wider effort of regional ministry. We explored the theme of reconciliation through music and other expressions. What a time of rich optimism and possibilities.
More faint in my awareness was a Fall 1983 synod of bishops–where the meat of the topic was pondered by assembled prelates in Rome.
I tried to lay out Pope John Paul II’s outline for his post-synod apostolic exhortation. Here’s my attempt, though the formatting on older Vatican documents can be a bit dicey:
INTRODUCTION: ORIGIN AND MEANING OF THE DOCUMENT
– A Shattered World
– Longing for Reconciliation
– The Synod’s View
PART ONE: CONVERSION AND RECONCILIATION
(The Church’s Task and Commitment)
CHAPTER 1-1 A PARABLE OF RECONCILIATION
… To the Brother Who Stayed at Home
CHAPTER 1-2 AT THE SOURCES OF RECONCILIATION
– In the Light of Christ the Reconciler
– The Reconciling Church
– The Reconciled Church
CHAPTER 1-3 GOD’S INITIATIVE AND THE CHURCH’S MINISTRY
– Reconciliation Comes from God
– The Church, the Great Sacrament of Reconciliation
– Other Means of Reconciliation
PART TWO: THE LOVE THAT IS GREATER THAN SIN
(The Tragedy of (Humankind))
CHAPTER 2-1 THE MYSTERY OF SIN
– Disobedience to God
– Division Between Brothers (and Sisters)
– Personal Sin and Social Sin
– Mortal and Venial
– The Loss of the Sense of Sin
CHAPTER 2-2 “MYSTERIUM PIETATIS”
– It Is Christ Himself
– The Effort of the Christian
– Toward a Reconciled Life
PART THREE: THE PASTORAL MINISTRY OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION
(Promoting Penance and Reconciliation)
CHAPTER 3-1 THE PROMOTION OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION: WAYS AND MEANS
– The Sacraments
CHAPTER 3-2 THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION
– “Whose Sins You Shall Forgive”
– The Sacrament of Forgiveness
– Some Fundamental Convictions
– Forms of Celebration
– Celebration of the Sacrament with General Absolution
– Some More Delicate Cases
CONCLUDING EXPRESSION OF HOPE
As you can see, a logical and structured progression that covers the gamut of philosophy, Scripture, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, liturgy, and all the interfaces between these. I think this will be one of our more fruitful explorations of Church teaching on this website.
This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican.