VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News)—Pope XVI Benedict says the Church’s Year of Faith, starting October 2012, which he announced yesterday, Oct. 16, comes in response to a “profound crisis of faith that has affected many people” and left them searching for answers.
“Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ,” the Pope wrote in his letter, Porta Fidei (Door of Faith), announcing the yearlong initiative, which was released Oct. 17.
“The ‘door of faith’ is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church,” he reflected. “It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace.”
The Year of Faith will begin Oct. 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. That same date is the 20th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text Pope Benedict said was meant to show “the power and beauty of the faith.”
It will conclude on Nov. 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King.
October 2012 will also be the occasion of the Church’s next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on the theme of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” This event, the Pope noted, “will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith.”
Next year’s celebration is not the Church’s first Year of Faith. In 1967, Pope Paul VI presided over an observance on the same theme, which Pope described as a response to the “disturbance” and “perplexity” surrounding the faith after the Second Vatican Council.
Pope Benedict explained that the new Year of Faith gives an opportunity to show how that council’s documents support the historic traditions of the Church when properly understood. He encouraged believers to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church during the upcoming year, saying the text was “one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.”
By studying their faith, believers can learn to explain it in light of new circumstances driving others to doubt or disbelieve.
“To a greater extent than in the past, faith is now being subjected to a series of questions arising from a changed mentality which, especially today, limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and technological discoveries,” Pope Benedict observed.
“Nevertheless, the Church has never been afraid of demonstrating that there cannot be any conflict between faith and genuine science, because both, albeit via different routes, tend towards the truth.”
The Pope said it would be a matter “of decisive importance” for Catholics to look back on the history of their faith during the 2012-2013 year, to gain an understanding of how the Church continues Christ’s mission of redemption.
“In him who died and rose again for our salvation,” he said, “the examples of faith that have marked these two thousand years of our salvation history are brought into the fullness of light.”
Pope Benedict has asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to draw up more specific guidelines on how to “live this Year of Faith in the most effective and appropriate ways, at the service of belief and evangelization.”
He cited the words of the Virgin Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, on the occasion of their visitation before Christ’s birth, as he asked Catholics to “entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed ‘blessed because she believed.’”