In the midst of World War I, Pope Benedict XV issued the papal encyclical, Humani Generis Redemptionem, addressed to Catholic bishops throughout the world. In this encyclical, Benedict addresses the matter of Christian preaching. He quotes extensively from the Bible and draws heavily on the example of Saint Paul.
Benedict emphasizes the momentous place of preaching in the Christian life and redemption by noting that Jesus Christ relied exclusively on the preaching of the apostles to spread his religion throughout the world. “It pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believed” (I Corinthians 1:21). Preaching is the means God chooses not only to spread Christianity but also to preserve and fortify it. However, surveying the situation of the Christian world, Benedict concludes that the state of preaching had declined precipitously, contributing to the misfortunes of the world at that time, and the decay of Christian virtues and popular morals.
To restore the efficacy and the perfection of preaching, Benedict diagnoses three causes for deviation from ideal Christian preaching and the correctives for each. The three causes are that the preaching employs the wrong person, the wrong intention, and the wrong method.
As to the first cause, the wrong person, Benedict notes that the highest duty of a bishop is to preach the Gospel. The apostles embraced preaching as among the powers that they received from Christ and a power that they in turn passed on to the bishops as their successors in church office. To assist in this task, bishops delegate their duty of preaching to others, especially priests. Those not selected and approved by a bishop are not authorized to preach. A bishop should exercise the greatest care...
(The entire section is 727 words.)