ON HOW TO PREACH
Taken from the Fifth Lateran CouncilLeo, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting record. Under the protection of the supreme majesty by whose ineffable providence things in heaven and on earth are guided, as we carry out
the office of watchman over the Lord's flock
committed to us, insofar as this is granted to our weakness, we reflect within ourselves in great depth that, among many other importantmatters, the office of preaching is also our concern.
Preaching is of the firstimportance, very necessary and of great effect and utility in the church, so long as itis being exercised rightly, from genuine charity towards God and our neighbour,and according to the precepts and examples of the holy fathers, who contributed agreat deal to the church by publicly professing such things at the time of theestablishment and propagation of the faith.
For, our redeemer first did and taught, and by his command and example, the college of twelve apostles -- the heavens alike proclaiming the glory of the true God through all the earth --
led back from darknessthe whole human race, which was held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin,and guided it to the light of eternal salvation.
The apostles and then their successors propagated far and wide and rooted deeply the word itself through all the earth and untothe ends of the world.
Therefore those who are now carrying this burden ought toremember and frequently reflect that they in turn, with respect to this office of preaching, are entering into and maintaining that succession of the author andfounder of this office, Jesus Christ our most holy redeemer, of Peter and Paul, andof the other apostles and disciples of the Lord.
We have learnt from trustworthy sources that some preachers in our times (werecord this with sorrow) do not attend to the fact that they are carrying out theoffice of those we have named, of the holy doctors of the church and of othersprofessing sacred theology, who, ever standing by Christians and confronting falseprophets striving to overturn the faith, have shown that the church militant remainsunimpaired by her very nature; and that they ought to adopt only what the peoplewho flock to their sermons will find useful, by means of reflection and practicalapplication, for rooting out vices, praising virtues and saving the souls of thefaithful.
Reliable report has it, rather, that they are preaching many and variousthings contrary to the teachings and examples which we have mentioned, sometimeswith scandal to the people.
This fact influences our attitude very deeply when wereflect within ourself that these preachers, unmindful of their duty, are striving intheir sermons not for the benefit of the hearers but rather for their own self-display.They flatter the idle ears of some people who seem to have already reached a statethat would make true the words of the Apostle writing to Timothy: For, a time iscoming when people will not endure sound teaching but, having itching ears, theywill accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn awayfrom listening to the truth and wander into myths.
These preachers make noattempt whatever to lead back the deceived and empty minds of such people to thepath of right and truth. Indeed, they involve them in even greater errors. Without