Fraternal relations between believers, authority as service, sharing with the poor: all of these features, which have characterized the life of the Church from her earliest days, can and must constitute a living and attractive model for the various human communities, from the family to civil society.
This witness belongs to the entire People of God, who are a People of prophets. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the members of the Church possess the “sense of the faith”. It is a kind of “spiritual instinct” which allows them to sentire cum Ecclesia and to discern what conforms to the Apostolic faith and to the spirit of the Gospel. Of course, it is clear that the sensus fidelium must not be confused with the sociological reality of majority opinion. It is something else. It is therefore important — and it is your task — to develop criteria for discerning authentic expressions of the sensus fidelium. For its part, the Magisterium has the duty to be attentive to what the Spirit says to the Churches through the authentic manifestations of the sensus fidelium. Numbers 8 and 12 of Lumen Gentium come to mind, which are so strong on this point. This attention is of the utmost importance for theologians. Pope Benedict XVI emphasized numerous times that the theologian must continually listen to the faith which is lived out by the humble and the little ones, to whom it has pleased the Father to reveal what he has hidden from the learned and the wise. – Address to the International Theological Commission December 6, 2013