2 popes craft Francis' 1st encyclical on faith
By The Associated Press
Published: Friday, July 5, 2013, 9:09 p.m.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued his first encyclical on Friday, a meditation on faith that is unique because it was written with someone else: Benedict XVI.
Benedict's hand is evident throughout much of the first three chapters of “The Light of Faith,” with his theological style, concerns and reference points clear.
Francis' priorities shine through strongest in the final chapter, where the Argentine Jesuit insists on the role of faith in serving the common good and giving hope to those who suffer. It includes his first clear statement as pope on marriage being a union between man and woman with the aim of creating children.
“This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God's own love, and of the acknowledge and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh and are enabled to give birth to a new life,” the encyclical reads.
The encyclical didn't appear to break any new ground in church teaching; its novelty was in the dual authorship, signed and unsigned, and that it was the first of Francis' nascent pontificate.
Francis acknowledged in the introduction that he merely “added a few contributions of my own” to Benedict's “fine” first draft, which the German theologian left unfinished when he retired in February. Together, the two popes crafted the final installment of Benedict's conceived trio of encyclicals on the three Christian theological virtues: charity, hope and faith.
Francis, however, gets publishing rights and he alone signed the short, 82-page encyclical, which is the most authoritative teaching document a pope can issue. It was signed on June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a feast day important for the unity of the church that was perhaps appropriate given the document's combined authorship by the two successors of Peter.
As though to underscore the shared message, Francis and Benedict were together Friday morning for the inauguration of a monument inside the Vatican gardens — the first time they have been seen together since May 2, when Francis welcomed Benedict back to the Vatican after his initial retirement getaway.
At a news conference about the document, Vatican officials stressed that it was Francis' encyclical, even though it contained issues dear to Benedict, was drafted by him and completed a triptych that he set out to write at the start of his pontificate.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Vatican's evangelization office, said Francis' style, citations and “peculiarities” come through and represent “a true introduction to his magisterium and allow us to understand better the pastoral style that distinguishes him.”
In the document, the two popes go back to the Old Testament for the origins of the Christian faith in God and then explore one of the major concerns of Benedict's papacy, the interplay of faith and reason and the dangers of relativizing truth.
“In contemporary culture, we often tend to consider the only real truth to be that of technology: Truth is what we succeed in building and measuring by our scientific know-how, truth is what works and what makes life easier and more comfortable,” they write, rejecting that view.
By the final chapter, the discussion comes around to more tangible concerns, the need for Christian faith to be at the service of justice, law and peace, and for the family to be at the forefront of imparting the faith to the young. These are clear concerns to Francis, who heads to Brazil in a few weeks for the church's youth fest, World Youth Day.
“Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey,” he writes. “To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- North Korea releases American captive
- 11-year-old pummels toddler
- 6 held in theft of radioactive material
- German court releases Nazi suspect, 94
- U.S. tells airlines to comply with China’s air-defense zone rule
- Canadian arrested in bid to pass ship info to China
- Vatican’s centuries-old almoner role continues with modern twist
- Automakers drool over Iran’s nuclear deal, eased sanctions
- Rebels raid Christian village
- Anti-government mass rally in Ukraine turns violent
- Egyptian panel likely to include women, Christians