VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church must guide young men and women toward a healthy discernment that not only distinguishes between good and evil, but does not judge those who fall into sin, said the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Addressing the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that whenever a judgment is pronounced in the light of faith in Jesus, it must be “expressed through closeness to a brother or sister.”

“Truth and mercy are inseparable. Without one, the other falls,” Cardinal Ladaria said Oct. 15.

In his speech, the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office reflected on the section of the synod’s working document that focused on the importance of education in discovering one’s vocation “to be witnesses to human maturity.”

Cardinal Ladaria said that the importance of forming consciences as well as the acceptance of correction is crucial in helping young people mature, especially in their ability to discern between good and evil or truth and lies.

“If I follow the wrong path, someone has to tell me, otherwise a catastrophe occurs,” he explained. “If we take away from education this aspect of ‘paternal’ correction, we are faced with generations that are increasingly fragile, defenseless against the powers of the moment.”

For Christians, he continued, truth and goodness are based on the teachings of Jesus, and only a discernment “carried out without ambiguity that is geared toward truth and goodness, can strengthen” a young person’s spiritual path.

Additionally, Cardinal Ladaria said, love plays a fundamental role in “healing the wounds that each person carries, and it can make a healthy love toward the human person arise.”

“The paschal dimension of the entire Christian path can be discovered here,” he said. “God takes us as we are, but he doesn’t leave us as we were.”