BANGKOK — The archbishop of Bombay, India, has praised Pope Francis’ encyclical Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) for exploring the “valuable richness” of faith and giving an “answer to the present challenges to faith.”
“Lumen Fidei,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias told Catholic News Agency July 22, is a “challenge to us not to take our faith for granted, but to understand our faith, to live it ethically and proclaim it confidently.”
Cardinal Gracias said he appreciated Pope Francis' “down-to-earth, direct approach,” pointing to the Pope's statement that the encyclical was “written by four hands.”
The encyclical has the “theological depth” and insights of Benedict XVI, as well as the “direct approach” of Pope Francis, making concrete examples to form direct appeals to the people of God.
“I think the combination has been excellent (in) the depth, clarity and appeal” of the document, he said.
While the encyclical is addressed to all the faithful, Cardinal Gracias examined it in the light of his Asian context. He linked it to Blessed John Paul II's 1999 apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Asia (The Church in Asia), which promoted a “great harvest of faith” on that continent.
Lumen Fidei is addressed to the universal Church, Cardinal Gracias said. But he explained that each diocese is called to pastorally apply the teaching of the Bishop of Rome to its particular situation.
The cardinal indicated that the years between Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation to Asian Catholics and the present Holy Father's encyclical letter have been the occasion of a reawakening, a call to rediscover the richness of the faith in Asian cultures.
“I think everything links up beautifully with Ecclesia in Asia, which speaks of the richness of faith in the Asian context and the challenges to us to make an Asian response,” he said.
Cardinal Gracias said that Benedict XVI's call for a deepening of Catholic faith has been served by his successor's encyclical. He said Lumen Fidei has helped in really understanding the richness of the light of faith in the midst of darkness and in showing how the values of the Gospel can be the “answers to our problems.”
There is a “cry against corruption,” a cry for “good governance” and an “attitude of servant leadership” all over the world, Cardinal Gracias reflected. He added that Lumen Fidei is an effort to inculturate the light of faith, so as to let the Gospel form better societies.
“This is evangelization,” he said, “understanding the faith, living the faith and proclaiming the faith.