Monday, November 25, 2013

The light of faith by Pope Francis

I was sent Pope Francis' "The light of faith" (Lumen Fidei) Ignatius Press, 2013, this summer to review. I pick it up occasionally and think, I really need to get into this. But I've found it not terribly readable--but then it's the first encyclical I've ever read. Beginning Oct. 2012, it was the year of faith for Roman Catholics. Pope Benedict had already written on charity and hope (Deus Caritas Est (2005) and Spe Salvi (2007) , and this was outlined as part of that trilogy, when he resigned in February. Francis calls it a work of 4 hands, and that it is, with Benedict's scholarly references to giants of the past, and Francis' sweetness in reaching out to the ordinary person in faith. I'll continue to dip in--and it's a small book about 5 x 7 with 110 pages. It still feels a little like an outline, but both of these great men know far more on the subject than I do, so it won't be wasted effort. I’ll keep working at it.

Pope Benedict “had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical on faith” before his retirement in February 2013, Pope Francis writes, adding that “I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own.”

Commentators are likely to differ in attributing specific passages, but the document clearly recalls the writings of Benedict XVI in its extensive treatment of the dialogue between faith and reason and its many citations of St Augustine, not to mention references to Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

On other hand, warnings of the dangers of idolatry, Gnosticism and Pharisaism, a closing prayer to Mary as the “perfect icon of faith”, and an entire section on the relevance of faith to earthly justice and peace echo themes that Pope Francis has already made signatures of his young pontificate.

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