16 October 2008
Intervention of Archbishop Burke at the Synod of Bishops
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Raymond Leo BURKE, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (VATICAN CITY)
1. Regarding no. 58 of the Instrumentum laboris, the Holy Scriptures teach that God has written His law upon every human heart. The divine natural law, inscribed upon the human heart, can be discovered by reason but is clearly announced to all through the inspired Word of God (cf. Rom 2:15).
2. In the context of pervasive materialism, relativism and radical individualism, it is especially urgent that the Scriptural teaching on the natural moral law be presented as the common heritage of every man.
3. Also urgently needed is the proclamation of the divinely inspired teaching on the discipline which disposes man to do what is good and to avoid what is evil. Holy Scripture teaches us that the observance of the law is not the height of man' s self-expression, but it is the irreplaceable foundation of the highest expressions of human goodness.
4. Proclaiming the Scriptural teaching on the place of discipline in the lives of individuals and of society is a challenge in a culture which is either antinomian or has made law a tool in the hands of the most powerful.
5. Regarding the relationship of the Word of God and law, it is important to underline the service of canon law in the Church, by which the life of Christ can grow and develop in the whole Church. In his Apostolic Constitution Sacrae disciplinae leges, Pope John Paul II, describing the service of Canon Law in the Church, referred to "that long heritage of law, which is contained in the books of the Old and New Testament and from which the whole juridical and legislative tradition of the Church takes its origin, as from its first source."
6. In the Church, as in society, the understanding of the law has been obscured and, in some cases, lost, leading to gravely harmful effects, for example, the widespread disregard of liturgical laws and the failure to follow the procedural laws by which the faithful vindicate their rights and ecclesiastical delicts are duly sanctioned.
7. The deeper appreciation of the service of law in the Church, through the study of the Word of God, not only helps the Church to understand and treasure the gift of its canonical discipline for the attainment of its divine mission, but also assists society, in general, to understand and treasure the irreplaceable service of law for the attainment of the common good.