Pope Benedict XVI, “Porta Fidei”
Apostolic Letter, October 11, 2011
Establishing the “Year Of Faith,”
from October 11, 2012 through November 24, 2013
1. The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, offering us the life of communion with God and offering entry into His Church when the Word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be transformed by grace. It begins with Baptism (cf. Rom. 6:4); it is then that we can address God as Father. The end comes with the passage to eternal life.
2. Ever since the start of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith. At the Mass inaugurating my pontificate, I said: “The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must lead people out of the desert towards the place of life”. However, because so many think that faith is self-evident and its meaning and values have little appeal, a profound crisis of faith has affected many people.
3. We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless and the light be kept hidden (Cf. Mt 5:13-16). We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God and on the Bread of Life.
4. In light of all this, I have decided to announce a Year of Faith. It will begin on 11 October and it will end on the Solemnity of Christ our King on 24 November 2013. The starting date of October 11 2012 also marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.…Moreover, I have convoked for October 12, 2012 the General Assembly of Bishops to consider the theme, “THE NEW EVANGELIZATION FOR THE TRANSMISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH”. This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time for the rediscovery of the Faith.
6. The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers. Christians are called to radiate the word of truth. That requires conversion. Hence, the Year of Faith is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5:31). To the extent that he/she freely cooperates, one’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed.
7. It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Through His love, Jesus attracts to himself the people of every generation. Today, there is need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful and enables us to give life-bearing witness. Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger.
8. On this happy occasion, I wish to invite my brother bishops from all over the world to join the Successor of Peter in recalling the precious gift of faith. We will have the opportunity to profess our faith in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world; in our homes and among our families. Religious communities as well as parish communities are to find a way to make public profession of the Credo.
10. At this point I would like to sketch a path intended to help us understand more profoundly not only the content of the faith but also the act of entrusting ourselves fully to God. Knowing the content to be believed is not sufficient unless the heart which is the authentic sacred space within the person is opened by grace so as to see below the surface and understand the word of God. Moreover, a Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him. Precisely because it is a free act, faith also demands social responsibility for what one believes. Finally, profession of faith is both personal and communitarian. As we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “‘I believe’ is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during baptism. ‘We believe’ is the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers.” That said, we must not forget that very many people are sincerely searching for the definitive truth of their lives and of the world.
11. To arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church an indispensable tool. Blessed John Paul II called it a “valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith.”
14. The Year of faith will also be a good time to intensify the witness of charity. Faith without charity bears no fruit. Without faith charity would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Did not James write: “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (Jas 2:14-18). Therefore faith and charity require each other.
15. May this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ increasingly firm, because only He guarantees an authentic and lasting love. We believe with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death. With confidence we entrust ourselves to him: he, present in our midst overcomes the power of the evil one (cf. Lk 11:20); and the Church, the visible community of his mercy, abides in him as a sign of definitive reconciliation with the Father. Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed “blessed because she believed” (Lk 1:45).