By Carter Griffin, MercatorNet
The first encyclical of the new Pope — Lumen Fidei, "The Light of Faith" — is an outreach to non-believers and wavering Christians.
The assumption that there is an incompatibility between faith and reason underlies many of the debates between modern mores and traditional morality and between Church and state. Last Friday the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis published his first major position paper on precisely this topic. Here Father Carter Griffin explains the major themes of this controversial essay.
Pope Francis has written an encyclical on faith, Lumen Fidei, not only for those who struggle to believe in Christ, but for those who struggle to believe anything at all. The starting point for this encyclical is that contemporary men and women have painted themselves into a philosophical corner, too confident in their vision of truth to see its inadequacies, too skeptical in their vision of faith to see its possibilities.
Building on the work of his predecessor Benedict XVI, Francis offers a well-timed and well-aimed letter to those yearning for a life of faith built on foundations of objective truth.
The Pope expresses the modern dilemma about faith and truth as follows. “In contemporary culture,” he says, “we often tend to consider the only real truth to be that of technology: truth is what we succeed in building and measuring by our scientific know-how, truth is what works and what makes life easier and more comfortable. Nowadays this appears as the only truth that is certain, the only truth that can be shared.”
Christian faith is then seen as the opposing pole, as the “subjective truths of the individual, which consist in fidelity to his or her deepest convictions, yet these are truths valid only for that individual and not capable of being proposed to others.”
To make matters worse, trying to bridge the two is met with deep suspicion as “the root of fanaticism, which proves oppressive for anyone who does not share the same beliefs.” Truth and faith, then, are torn apart and both suffer the loss. Truth is impoverished and superficial, and faith is reduced to idiosyncratic sympathies and yearnings.