St. John Paul II and the “law of gradualness”

October 14, 2014

On Monday, October 13, Fr. Dominic Legge, O.P., published an article on Zenit explaining the teaching of St. John Paul II on “the law of gradualness,” a topic which has recently been discussed at the extraordinary Synod of Bishops presently taking place in Rome. Below is an excerpt from Fr. Legge’s article:

What John Paul called “the law of gradualness” does not refer to a “gradual” turning away from sin, but to the perennial Christian doctrine that we are not yet perfect in the first moment of our conversion.  When we receive a grace of conversion, we break definitively from evil and then gradually advance in holiness.  We may even fall back into grave sin, but, helped by grace, we repent and start anew.  Here, the sacrament of Penance has an important role to play: it calls us to renounce our sins definitively with a firm purpose of amendment.  In effect, he who will not yet repent, will not yet accept God’s mercy, and so is not forgiven.  (CCC no. 1451; DH 1676.)

Fr. Legge is an instructor in Systematic Theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. Earlier this year, Fr. Legge cowrote an article titled “Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried: A Theological Assessment.” To read Fr. Legge’s article on the “law of gradualness,” visit Zenit.

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