Thursday 23 November 2017

Michael Kelly: Pope reaches out beyond the fold but no break with past

Pope Francis’s call on non-believers
Pope Francis’s call on non-believers

Michael Kelly

The first encyclical of Pope Francis offers a deeper insight into his papal priorities, and it's a mixture of reaching out in dialogue to non-believers, serving the vulnerable and asserting traditional Catholic values. At the same time, there is an urgent appeal for secularised societies to return to faith. "Once the flame of faith dies out," the Pope predicts, "all other lights begin to dim."

'Lumen Fidei' (Light of Faith), which was published yesterday at the Vatican, is unique as far as Pontifical teaching documents go. It is being described as a letter "written with four hands", a reference to the fact that the 84-page text was begun by his predecessor Benedict XVI and completed by the Argentine Pontiff.

It's being seen as a sign of Francis's respect for Benedict that he completed the document; normally a new Pope sets aside anything his predecessor was working on.

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