Lumen fidei – New Encyclical from Pope Francis

I am reading Lumen fidei, the new, first encyclical from Pope Francis.

From what I can tell, it is nearly entirely Benedict.

If, as Pope, you have to have a ghost writer, why not another Pope?  Talk about “Reading Francis through Benedict”!

Nay rather,

“Reading Benedict Through Francis”!

I will write more about this later, but from the onset I was happy to see that it is “of the Supreme Pontiff Francis” and not from “Francis, Bishop of Rome”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Some of the commentary I’ve seen (no chance to read yet— 88 pages must wait until the kids have clean laundry!) mentions a part near the end about marriage and family that sounds more like Francis than like Benedict. Not that Benedict was pro-gay marriage, but more that he didn’t TALK about marriage as often as Francis does. This is probably a result of Francis really being in the thick of the marriage wars when he was in Argentina.

    So, to me, it sounds like more of Benedict outlining the theology and principles of the matter, and Francis showing us how to translate that into concrete action in the world. There’s a reason the Church desperately needs BOTH of these popes.

    (Actually, I wonder in BXVI saw this need for someone who could translate theology into action, and if this contributed to his retirement….)

  2. Stumbler but trying says:

    It is a wonderful thing indeed to have Papa Benedict behind you, a pillar of supreme support on which Papa Francis can rely on. I read the news about the two of them in the Vatican Gardens dedicating Vatican City to St. Michael. Wonderful! Now, with the release of this encyclical, I will learn more and be encouraged in my walk of faith after so much bads news of late.

    The work of “four Hands” is truly a blessing for the Church and for all peoples. Thank you Holy Spirit for such a gift!

    “I am reading Lumen fidei, the new, first encyclical from Pope Francis.”
    Look forward to your take on the encyclical, Fr. Z.

  3. chantgirl says:

    This doesn’t really fit into the media’s Pope vs. Pope narrative. What beautiful cooperation, and what wisdom and grace of Pope Francis to give us such a gift, even if it did not originate from him!

  4. anna 6 says:

    It’s wonderful to see a photo of Papa’s Francesco and Emerito together on this important day. Just wondering why they would release the encyclical on the same day they announce the big news about the J23 and JP2 canonizations. It seems that the news of the latter took away attention from the encyclical. But I can’t wait to read this. The Charity and Hope encyclicals were extraordinary.
    It’s funny, because I thought just the opposite…that B16 was more likely to mention marriage, and the way the Church defines the institution.

  5. JacobWall says:

    It seems that Pope Francis has openly acknowledged that this is mostly the work of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

    ‘Titled Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), the encyclical is known to have been authored mainly by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was still working on it at the time of his abdication and it strongly reflects the theological style of Francis’ predecessor. In his introduction, Pope Francis wrote that he merely “added a few contributions of my own.” ‘


  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “My dear T.S. Eliot, Nietzsche, and Bueber — Bet you never thought you’d be quoted in an encyclical! Please let me know what velocity you reach while rolling over in your graves, so I can pass it on to my bro Benedict! Yours in Christ, FRANCISCUS.”

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I probably should add that the encyclical deals with Nietzsche and Dostoevsky’s Prince Myshkin comment as modern arguments that get taken apart. Same thing with the ancient pagan, Celsus. Buber’s is a story taken from a Jewish source, and Eliot just gets quoted for poetry that says something sensible.

    Benedict’s quotes always crack me up. Either he’s got a commonplace book of quotes somewhere (or a big index card file) or he’s really good at looking up bits he remembers.

  8. kmcgrathop says:

    Well the footnotes from Nietzsche, Buber, Wittgenstein, et al. are a bit of a dead giveaway as to the author of those sections. But this paragraph almost sounded like a stringing together of Pope Francis’ tweets for the last two months:

    “In union with faith and charity, hope propels us towards a sure future, set against a different horizon with regard to the illusory enticements of the idols of this world yet granting new momentum and strength to our daily lives. Let us refuse to be robbed of hope, or to allow our hope to be dimmed by facile answers and solutions which block our progress, “fragmenting” time and changing it into space. Time is always much greater than space. Space hardens processes, whereas time propels towards the future and encourages us to go forward in hope.”

  9. Priam1184 says:

    The Holy Father states in paragraph 7 that this encyclical was based on a first draft done by Benedict to which he added his own thoughts and that he felt it important to finish out Benedict’s two encyclicals on the theological virtues (Caritas in veritate and Spe salvi) with Lumen fidei. Francis seems largely to be putting out Benedict’s encyclical and I am grateful to him for not just putting it in a drawer someplace as he very well could have.

  10. MikeM says:

    Anna, I think that that was quite deliberate. The encyclical on Faith which emphasizes the constant unchanging relevance of the Light of Christ, written in cooperation by a Pope and his predecessor and the announcement of the canonizations of two Popes of the Vatican II era (who are sometimes erroneously put in opposition to each other)…

    Together, they make a clear statement about the nature of the Catholic Faith… It’s continuity and harmony.

  11. marcpuckett says:

    The encyclical is addressed to the bishops, priests, deacons, to consecrated persons, and to all the lay faithful de fide, sulla fede. What is that about? I mean, I don’t recall ever seeing that in an encyclical’s address….

  12. Lin says:

    I, too, am relieved it was not from Francic, Bishop of Rome. Our progressive pastor adds “Bishop of Rome” to the Eucharistic Prayer at every mass. I will be interested to get Father Z’s review.

  13. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:


    It’s not so unusual, in that some encyclicals (perhaps many) are addressed, finally, to “and to all men of good will”.

    I’m going to hazard a guess about why Eliot, Nietzsche, Wittegenstein and company are in this — aside from the obvious that Papa Ratzinger does this sort of thing, so it is logical in an encyclical written mostly by him. I heard a rational defense of this practice the other evening, before the release of the encyclical: he’s responding to the vocabulary of those for whom Nietzche and company are required reading.

  14. inara says:

    Any word on the How to Properly Celebrate the Mass document that was supposed to be forthcoming this summer?

  15. Lin says:

    inara……there is really such a document to be issued? Any info on this would be greatly appreciated!!

  16. JamesA says:

    Has anyone else noticed that he didn’t sign it “Franciscus, PP” ?

  17. JamesA, I think Pope Francis dropped the PP, amongst other things.

  18. Gus Barbarigo says:

    @ Joe of St. Therese

    I did notice the missing PP.

    With all the mayhem in the world now, I wish we had a PONT MAX !!!

  19. inara says:

    Lin, last fall there was talk that a new instruction detailing the proper celebration of Mass was to be released this July. I was a bit nervous, but very much hoping that ad orientem, receiving Communion kneeling & on the tongue, proper liturgical music, etc. would be clarified in favor of tradition. Now with Pope Francis at the helm, it seems this project may have been shelved.

  20. PostCatholic says:

    I read the introduction and it seems to outline straw man argument against Nietzsche.

  21. jameeka says:

    My reading so far: the Encyclical needs a better corpus callosum

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  24. Andrew says:

    Finished reading. Starting to digest. My first impression: this is a huge call to Ecclesiastical unity of all Christians.

  25. Gratias says:

    This suggests that Pope Franciscus is an effective administrator. Have an unfinished business, finish it and get it out of your desk. The picture of the two popes inaugurating a statue of St. Michael Archangel in the beautiful Vatican gardens was also very encouraging. It suggests Franciscus will not invalidate Benedictus’ Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

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