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There is no contradiction between faith and works, Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Nov 26, 2008 / 12:12 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict continued his reflections on St.
Paul today, urging the 9,000 people present to consider Paul's teaching on faith and works in the
process of justification. Emphasizing that works do not justify a person, the Pope said that works
necessarily flow from love for Christ.
In his catechesis on St. Pauls teaching on justification, the Pontiff stated that man is unable to
justify himself by his works, but becomes just before God only because God restores us to right
relationship by uniting us with Christ.
He continued, "Man obtains this union with Christ by means of faith." This faith, if it is true and
real, becomes love and expresses itself in charity; without charity faith would be dead.
Pope Benedict then noted that there has been confusion concerning the relevance of man's
actions for salvation.
According to the Pope, the interpretive key can be found in St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians,
which emphasizes the gratuitousness of justification apart from man's works and highlights the
relationship between faith and charity and faith and works.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit "is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control," the Holy Father quoted, pointing out that at the beginning of Paul's list
of virtues is love and at the conclusion self-control.
Referencing both Galatians and Corinthians, Benedict XVI taught that true faith in Christ is what
justifies men, but also that that same faith, if it is genuine, leads him to live no longer for
himself, but for Christ; it makes man a new creation and a member of Christ's Body, the
"The centrality of justification without works, the main object of Paul's preaching, presents no
contradiction to faith working through love; on the contrary it requires that our own faith be
expressed in a life in accordance with the Spirit," Benedict XVI added.
The supposed contradiction between faith and works that was first raised by Luther is an
"unfounded conflict," he remarked.
Although some people see a conflict between what Saint Paul teaches and what Saint James
teaches, the Pope explained that "For both Paul and James, faith working through love bears
witness to the free gift of justification in Christ."
The Holy Father noted that men often fall into misunderstandings that characterized the
community of Corinth: "Those Christians thought that having been gratuitously justified in
Christ by faith, 'all things are lawful for them."

"What we must do," he went on, "is gain a renewed awareness that, because we have been
justified in Christ, we are no longer our own but have become temples of the Spirit and hence are
called to glorify God in our bodies. We would undervalue the priceless value of justification,
bought at a high price by the blood of Christ, if we did not glorify it with our body, with all our
lives." For this reason, St. Paul exhorts the Roman "to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship," he said.
The ethics that Paul proposes to believers retain their importance today because "they are rooted
in the individual and community relationship with Christ." The essential point is that Christian
ethics do not arise from a system of commandments," Benedict XVI indicated, "they are a
consequence of our friendship with Christ.
The Pope concluded, "Nothing and no one can ever separate us from God's love. This
certainty gives us the strength to live the faith that works in love."

For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law
comes knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20).
For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law (Rom 3:28).
Yet we know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so
we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works
of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified (Gal 2:16).
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with
faith? (Gal 3:2)
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law,
or by hearing with faith? (Gal 3:5)
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, Cursed be everyone
who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them (Gal 3:10).
When Saint Paul speaks of the works of the law, he refers to what we know as the six hundred
and thirteen precepts of the Torah, such as Jewish prohibitions against eating pork, the mandate
of circumcision, and the observance of Passover.