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Benedict XVI Catecheses on Faith
17 Oct. 2012 Introducing the new catechesis series on faith
"Today I would like to introduce the new series of Catecheses that will develop throughout the Year of Faith that has just begun and will interrupt — during this period — the series on the school of prayer. I announced this special Year in the Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, precisely so that the Church might renew the enthusiasm of believing in Jesus Christ the one Saviour of the world, revive the joy of walking on the path he pointed out to us and bear a tangible witness to the transforming power of faith."
Access the Pope's Audiences by following the link Faith (see Quick Links on the right, under Benedict XVI Catecheses)
24 Oct. 2012 On the nature of faith
31 Oct. 2012 On the Ecclesial Nature of Faith
07 Nov. 2012 On the desire for God
14 Nov. 2012 On the Knowledge of God
21 Nov. 2012 On the Splendour of God's Truth
28 Nov. 2012 On Bearing Witness to the Christian Faith
05 Dec. 2012 On the Beauty of God's Plan of Salvation
12 Dec. 2012 On the Unfolding of God's self revelation
19 Dec. 2012 On the Faith of Mary, the Virgin Mother of Christ
02 Jan. 2013 On the Identity of Jesus
09 Jan. 2013 On the Incarnation
16 Jan. 2013 On Christ as Madiator between God and Man
23 Jan. 2013 On Abraham's Faith
30 Jan. 2013 On God the Almighty Father
06 Feb. 2013 On God as Creator of Heaven and Earth
13 Feb. 2013 On Ash Wednesday
The following is an extract from the Apostolic Letter:
I have decided to announce a Year of Faith. It will begin on 11 October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and it will end on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on 24 November 2013. The starting date of 11 October 2012 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text promulgated by my Predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, with a view to illustrating for all the faithful the power and beauty of the faith. This document, an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council, was requested by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 as an instrument at the service of catechesis  and it was produced in collaboration with all the bishops of the Catholic Church. Moreover, the theme of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that I have convoked for October 2012 is “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”. This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith. It is not the first time that the Church has been called to celebrate a Year of Faith. My venerable Predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI announced one in 1967, to commemorate the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul on the 19th centenary of their supreme act of witness. He thought of it as a solemn moment for the whole Church to make “an authentic and sincere profession of the same faith”; moreover, he wanted this to be confirmed in a way that was “individual and collective, free and conscious, inward and outward, humble and frank”. He thought that in this way the whole Church could reappropriate “exact knowledge of the faith, so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it, and confess it”. The great upheavals of that year made even more evident the need for a celebration of this kind. It concluded with the Credo of the People of God, intended to show how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past. (Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, 4)
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The following Recommendations for the Year of Faith are taken from the 'Note', promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
On the level of the Universal Church
1. The main ecclesial event at the beginning of the Year of Faith will be the XIII General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops, convoked by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2012, dedicated to The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. During this Synod, on 11 October 2012, there will be a solemn celebration of the beginning of the Year of Faith, in remembrance of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
2. In the Year of Faith pilgrimages of the faithful to the See of Peter are to be encouraged, to profess faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in unity with him who today is called to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith (cfr. Lk 22:32). It is also important to promote pilgrimages to the Holy Land, the place which first saw the presence of Jesus, the Savior, and Mary, his Mother.
3. During this Year, it will be helpful to invite the faithful to turn with particular devotion to Mary, model of the Church, who “shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues.” Therefore, every initiative that helps the faithful to recognize the special role of Mary in the mystery of salvation, love her and follow her as a model of faith and virtue is to be encouraged. To this end it would be proper to organize pilgrimages, celebrations and gatherings at the major Marian shrines.
4. The next World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013, will offer a special occasion for the young to experience the joy which comes from faith in the Lord Jesus and communion with the Holy Father, in the greater family of the Church.
5. It is hoped that many symposia, conferences and large gatherings will be held, even at the international level, to encourage encounters with authentic witness to the faith and to promote understanding of the contents of Catholic doctrine. Noting how, still today, the Word of God continues to grow and spread, it will be important to give witness that “all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfilment” in Christ Jesus and that faith “becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life.” Some conferences should be particularly dedicated to the rediscovery of the teachings of Vatican Council II.
6. The Year of Faith will offer a special opportunity for all believers to deepen their knowledge of the primary documents of the Second Vatican Council and their study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is especially true for candidates for priesthood, particularly during the propeduetic year or in their first years of theological studies, for novices in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as well as for those in a period of discernment for joining an Ecclesial Association or Movement.
7. This Year will provide an auspicious time for a more attentive reception of the homilies, catechesis, addresses and other speeches and documents of the Holy Father. Pastors, consecrated persons and the lay faithful are invited to renew their efforts in effective and heart-felt adherence to the teaching of the Successor of Peter.
8. During the Year of Faith, in cooperation with the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, various ecumenical initiatives are to be planned, aimed at “the restoration of unity among all Christians” which “is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council.” In particular, there will be a solemn ecumenical celebration in which all of the baptized will reaffirm their faith in Christ.
9. A Secretariat to coordinate all of the different initiatives promoted by various Dicasteries of the Holy See, or other events relevant to the Universal Church, will be established within the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. This Secretariat should be informed timely of the main events and can also suggest appropriate initiatives. The Secretariat will open a dedicated website with the goal of making available useful information regarding living out the Year of Faith more effectively.
10. At the conclusion of this Year, on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, there will be a Eucharist celebrated by the Holy Father, in which a solemn renewal of the profession of faith will take place.
II. On the level of Episcopal Conferences
1. Episcopal Conferences, in light of the specific mission of the Bishops as teachers and “heralds of the faith,” can dedicate a day of study to the topic of faith, its personal witness and its transmission to new generations.
2. The republication in paperback and economical editions of the Documents of Vatican Council II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium is to be promoted, as is the wider distribution of these texts through electronic means and modern technologies.
3. A renewed effort to translate the documents of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church into languages which lack a translation is desirable. Initiatives of charitable support to enable translations into the local languages of mission countries, where the local Churches cannot afford the expense, are to be encouraged. This should be done under the guidance of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
4. Pastors should work to promote television and radio transmissions, films and publications focusing on the faith, its principles and content, as well as on the ecclesial significance of the Second Vatican Council. This should be done using the new styles of communication, especially on the popular level, making these things available to a wider public.
5. The Saints and the Blessed are the authentic witnesses of the faith. It is, therefore, opportune that Episcopal Conferences work toward the dissemination of a knowledge of the local Saints of their territory, also by modern means of social communication.
6. The contemporary world is sensitive to the relationship between faith and art. It is, therefore, recommended that Episcopal Conferences maximize the catechetical potential – possibly with ecumenical cooperation – of the artistic patrimony of the region entrusted to their pastoral care.
7. Educators in centers of theological studies, seminaries and Catholic universities should be encouraged in their teaching to demonstrate the relevance within their various disciplines of the contents of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and of the implications derived from them.
8. It would be useful to arrange for the preparation of pamphlets and leaflets of an apologetic nature (cfr. 1 Pt 3:15), which should be done with the help of theologians and authors. Every member of the faithful would then be enabled to respond better to the questions which arise in difficult contexts – whether to do with sects, or the problems related to secularism and relativism, or to questions “arising from a changed mentality which, especially today, limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and technological discoveries,” or to other specific issues.
9. It is hoped that local catechisms and various catechetical supplements in use in the particular Churches would be examined to ensure their complete conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Should a catechism or supplement be found to be not totally in accord with the Catechism, or should some lacunae be discovered, new ones should be developed, following the example of those Conferences which have already done so.
10. The Year of Faith will also be an appropriate time to examine, in collaboration with the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Ratio of formation for future priests, ensuring that the contents of the Catechism for the Catholic Church are present in their theological studies.
III. At the Diocesan level
1. It is hoped that each particular Church would have a celebration of the opening of the Year of Faith and a solemn conclusion to it, in which to “profess our faith in the Risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world.”
2. It would be desirable that each Diocese in the world organize a study day on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, particularly for its priests, consecrated persons and catechists. On this occasion, for example, the Eastern Catholic Eparchies could hold a meeting with their priests to give witness to their specific experience and liturgical tradition in the one faith in Christ. Also, in this way, young particular Churches in mission territories would be able to give renewed witness to that joy of faith which is so often particular to them.
3. Each Bishop could devote a pastoral letter of his own to the topic of faith, keeping in mind the specific pastoral circumstances of the portion of the faithful entrusted to him, reminding them of the importance of the Second Vatican Council and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
4. It is hoped that in each Diocese, under the leadership of the Bishop, catechetical events will be organized, especially for the youth and those searching for a sense of life, helping them to discover the beauty of ecclesial faith, promoting encounters with meaningful witnesses to the faith.
5. It would be appropriate for each particular Church to review the reception of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its own life and mission, particularly in the realm of catechesis. This would provide the opportunity for a renewal of commitment on the part of the catechetical offices of the Dioceses which - supported by the Commissions for Catechesis of the Episcopal Conferences – have the duty to care for the theological formation of catechists.
6. The continuing education of the clergy can be focused during this Year of Faith on the documents of Vatican Council II and on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, treating such themes as “the proclamation of the Risen Christ”, “the Church - sacrament of salvation”, “the mission of evangelization in the world today”, “faith and disbelief”, “faith, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue”, “faith and eternal life”, “the hermeneutic of reform in continuity” and “the Catechism in ordinary pastoral care.”
7. Bishops are invited to organize penitential celebrations, particularly during Lent, in which all can ask for God’s forgiveness, especially for sins against faith. This Year also provides an appropriate occasion in which all can approach the Sacrament of Penance with greater faith and more frequently.
8. It is hoped that there will be a renewed creative dialogue between faith and reason in the academic and artistic communities, through symposia, meetings and days of study, especially at Catholic universities, in order to demonstrate that “there cannot be any conflict between faith and genuine science, because both, albeit via different routes, tend towards the truth.”
9. It is also important to promote encounters with those persons who, “while not claiming to have the gift of faith, are nevertheless sincerely searching for the ultimate meaning and definitive truth of their lives and of the world,” taking as an example the dialogues of the Courtyard of the Gentiles, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
10. The Year of Faith can be an opportunity to pay greater attention to Catholic schools, which are a perfect place to offer to students a living witness to the Lord and to nurture their faith. This can be done by making use of good catechetical tools, like the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Youcat.
IV. At the level of the parish/community/association/movement
1. In preparation for the Year of Faith, all of the faithful are invited to read closely and meditate upon Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, Porta fidei.
2. The Year of Faith “will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist.” In the Eucharist, mystery of faith and source of the new evangelization, the faith of the Church is proclaimed, celebrated and strengthened. All of the faithful are invited to participate in the Eucharist actively, fruitfully and with awareness, in order to be authentic witnesses of the Lord.
3. Priests should devote greater attention to the study of the documents of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, drawing from them resources for the pastoral care of their parishes – catechesis, preaching, Sacramental preparation. They should also offer cycles of homilies on the faith or on certain specific aspects such as, for example, “the encounter with Christ”, “the fundamental contents of the Creed”, and “faith and the Church.”
4. Catechists should hold more firmly to the doctrinal richness of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and, under the direction of their pastors, offer guidance in reading this precious document to groups of faithful, working toward a deeper common understanding thereof, with the goal of creating small communities of faith, and of giving witness to the Lord Jesus.
5. It is hoped that there will be a renewed commitment in parishes to the distribution of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and of other resources appropriate for families, which are true domestic churches and the primary setting for the transmission of the faith. This might be done, for example, during the blessing of homes, the Baptism of adults, Confirmations and Marriages. This can contribute to the deepening of Catholic teaching “in our homes and among our families, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times.”
6. The promotion of missions and other popular programs in parishes and in the workplace can help the faithful to rediscover the gift of Baptismal faith and the task of giving witness, knowing that the Christian vocation “by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate.”
7. During this time, members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life are asked to work towards the new evangelization with a renewed union to the Lord Jesus, each according to their proper charism, in fidelity to the Holy Father and to sound doctrine.
8. Contemplative communities, during the Year of Faith, should pray specifically for the renewal of the faith among the People of God and for a new impulse for its transmission to the young.
9. Associations and Ecclesial Movements are invited to promote specific initiatives which, through the contribution of their proper charism and in collaboration with their local Pastors, will contribute to the wider experience of the Year of Faith. The new Communities and Ecclesial Movements, in a creative and generous way, will be able to find the most appropriate ways in which to offer their witness to the faith in service to the Church.
10. All of the faithful, called to renew the gift of faith, should try to communicate their own experience of faith and charity to their brothers and sisters of other religions, with those who do not believe, and with those who are just indifferent. In this way, it is hoped that the entire Christian people will begin a kind of mission toward those with whom they live and work, knowing that they “have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man.”
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Decree Granting Plenary Indulgence for the Year of Faith - 05 October 2012
the following is an extract from the Decree (see link below for full text, accessible at www.Zenit.org):
During the whole span of the Year of Faith, proclaimed from October 11, 2012 to the whole of November 24, 2013, all individual faithful truly repentant, duly confessed, communing sacramentally, and who pray according to the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, will be able to acquire a Plenary Indulgence from the temporal punishment for their sins imparted by God’s mercy, applicable in suffrage to the souls of the deceased faithful.
a.- Every time they take part in at least three instances of preaching during the Sacred Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of Vatican Council II and on the Articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in any church or ideal place;
b.- Every time they visit by way of pilgrimage a Papal Basilica, a Christian catacomb, a Cathedral; Church, a sacred place designated by the Ordinary of the place for the Year of Faith (for example between the Minor Basilicas and the Shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the Holy Apostles and to Patron Saints) and take part there in some sacred function or at least pause for an apt time of recollection with pious meditations, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, according to the case, to Holy Apostles or Patrons;
c.- Every time, in days determined by the Ordinary of the place for the Year of Faith (for example on the solemnities of the Lord, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the feast s of the Holy Apostles and Patrons, on the Chair of Saint Peter), in any sacred place they participate in a solemn Eucharistic celebration or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form;
d.- A day freely chosen, during the Year of Faith, for the pious visit of the baptistery or other place, in which they received the sacrament of Baptism, renewing the baptismal promises in any legitimate formula.
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Statement on the Year of Faith - extracts
Issued by the International Theological Commission, 16 October 2012
The theologian works to "inculturate" in human intelligence, in the form of an authentic science, the intelligible content of "the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3). But the theologian also pays particular attention to the act of faith itself. It is the theologian’s task to "understand more profoundly not only the content of the faith, but also the act by which we choose to entrust ourselves fully to God, in complete freedom. In fact, there exists a profound unity between the act by which we believe and the content to which we give our assent" (Pope Benedict XVI, Porta fidei, 10). The theologian highlights the great human significance of that act (cf. Pope John Paul II, Fides et ratio, 31-33), investigating how God’s prevenient grace draws out from the very heart of human freedom the "yes" of faith, and showing how faith is the "foundation of the entire spiritual edifice" [fundamentum totius spiritualis aedificii] (St. Thomas Aquinas, In III Sent., d. 23, q. 2, q.1, a.1, ad 1; Cf. Summa theologiae, IIa-IIae, q. 4, a.7), in that it informs all the various dimensions of Christian life, personal, familial and communitarian.
Not only is the work of the theologian dependant on the living faith of the Christian people, attentive to "what the Spirit is saying to the churches" (Rev. 2:7), but its whole purpose is to foster the growth in faith of the people of God and the evangelising mission of the Church. Theology "begets, nourishes, defends, and strengthens that most wholesome faith" (St. Augustine, De Trinitate, XIV, 1,3). Indeed, the vocation of the theologian, in responsible collaboration with the Magisterium, is to serve the faith of God’s people (cf. Instruction Donum veritatis of May 24, 1990).
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Pope Benedict XVI
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
International Theological Commission
Catecheses by Pope Benedict XVI
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