Saturday, 6 July 2013

Lumen Fidei

'Today more than ever, we need to be reminded of this bond between faith and truth, given the crisis of truth in our age. 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. Nowadays this appears as the only truth that is certain, the only truth that can be shared, the only truth that can serve as a basis for discussion or for common undertakings. Yet at the other end of the scale we are willing to allow for subjective truths of the individual, which consist in fidelity to his or her deepest convictions, yet these are truths valid only for that individual and not capable of being proposed to others in an effort to serve the common good.

But Truth itself, the truth which would comprehensively explain our life as individuals and in society, is regarded with suspicion. Surely this kind of truth — we hear it said — is what was claimed by the great totalitarian movements of the last century, a truth that imposed its own world view in order to crush the actual lives of individuals. In the end, what we are left with is relativism, in which the question of universal truth — and ultimately this means the question of God — is no longer relevant. It would be logical, from this point of view, to attempt to sever the bond between religion and truth, because it seems to lie at the root of fanaticism, which proves oppressive for anyone who does not share the same beliefs. In this regard, though, we can speak of a massive amnesia in our contemporary world. The question of truth is really a question of memory, deep memory, for it deals with something prior to ourselves and can succeed in uniting us in a way that transcends our petty and limited individual consciousness. It is a question about the origin of all that is, in whose light we can glimpse the goal and thus the meaning of our common path.'

Lumen Fidei, the Papal Enclyclical began by Benedictus XVI and completed by Franciscus is now available to read on the Vatican website. One reason why I love to read new Papal Encylicals is because they nearly always reveal the depths of the Church's wisdom drawn from centuries of thought and writing from Popes, Saints and Doctors of the Church. Papal Encyclicals almost always chime in continuity with what the Church has in its theological treasury. It is a wonderful and noble gesture of Pope Francis to complete that which His Holiness's predecessor has begun. Canterbury Tales has a good little breakdown of the content here.

1 comment:

pelerin said...

I'm afraid I found this encyclical heavy-going and very difficult to understand. I am hoping there will be a summary somewhere.

On the other hand I have just watched the homily given by Pope Francis on the island of Lampedusa this morning and have been deeply moved by his words. He talks about the 'globalisation of indifference' and that we as a society have forgotten how to weep for others. His words are particularly poignant as he is celebrating the Mass on the first landing point for refugees from North Africa - many have perished at sea before they reach land.

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