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Pope Francis

Instead of our usual weekly giveaway, today I’m distributing Pope Francis’ new encyclical. At 6:00am ET this morning (noon Rome time), the Pope released Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith). Described as “the work of four hands,” the document originated with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI before Pope Francis “made it his own.”

An encyclical is simply an open letter from the pope to the entire Church. It comes from the Latin word encyclicus meaning “general” or “encircling” and carries significant authoritative weight. For the pope, encyclicals are second in importance only to Apostolic Constitutions.

Though most popes release several encyclicals during their pontificate, it’s unusual for a pope to release one so quickly. It took Pope Francis only four months, fewer than any pope in modern history.

It’s also unusual for an encyclical to feature two major emphases. Lumen Fidei reflects on the theological virtue of Faith (Pope Benedict devoted encyclicals to Hope and Charity.) But Lumen Fidei also sums up and expands on the recent Synod on the New Evangelization. The Pope typically releases an Apostolic Exhoration after each synod, such as Evangelii Nuntiandi (Paul VI), Christifideles Laici (John Paul II), and Verbum Domini (Benedict XVI). However, Pope Francis didn’t think it was a good idea to release an encyclical and an Apostolic Exhortation so close together, deciding instead to cover both topics in one document.

This morning the Vatican posted the full text of Lumen Fidei online. Yet in case you’re not a fan of parchment background, I’ve converted it to many other popular formats. Enjoy!

(PS. If you’re more of a paper fan, Ignatius Press is taking pre-orders for the hardcover edition.)
 
Lumen Fidei

Update 1:

In the last couple hours, I’ve received a litany of emails from both the USCCB and the Vatican accusing me of “[violating] both civil and moral law” and “stealing from the pope” (actual words used) by making the encyclical available in other formats. They’ve ordered me to remove the documents with full knowledge that this would prevent hundreds of people from reading it who otherwise wouldn’t read the encyclical online or in print.

In my view, this is tragic and unjust. It’s valuing profit over catechesis, and I have to believe Pope Francis (and Pope Benedict) would be extremely perturbed. Their goal and the goal of the Church is to evangelize—to spread the message of Jesus Christ, especially through papal encyclicals—not to make a dime off each copy printed.

I’m heading out the door for a three-day spiritual retreat without access to the Internet, so I’ll save my fuller reaction for another time. But per their request, I’ve removed the documents. Feel free to read the encyclical online or pre-order the Ignatius hardcover version.

Update 2:

I’ve finally had time to process the problem, which has actually frustrated me for months, well before the Lumen Fidei incident, and I’ve published a manifesto in response:

Free the Word: Why the Church Needs to Release Her Teachings to the World (SIGN THE PETITION)
 

  • Jill Rivas

    Good ideas very helpful .I was able to fill out a form
    online yesterday (http://goo.gl/dZ6syN) you might want to try. It was easy and it
    works for me.

  • Rick DeLano

    Thank God the Church has stepped in to mitigate the catastrophic effect of the wide distribution of EG #254, the most ominous case of material heresy taught with the authority- albeit the lowest authority- of the papal magisterium since Pope Liberius.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      Catastrophic? Material heresy? I hope this is just hyperbolic rhetoric.

      Also, I’m curious if you have anything positive to say about the other 50,000 words in the exhortation.

      • Rick DeLano

        I have no problem with any of the 50,000
        words that do not explicitly contradict the dogmatic definitions of the Catholic Church, and the words of Jesus Christ in Scripture.

        Unfortunately, #254 does both.

        • Rick DeLano

          I recant, with complete horror, my rash and presumptuous accusations of late against Pope Francis, specifically, I recant and detest the false claim that heresy was taught in EG #254.

          My bad will led me to this rash presumption. It is absolutely true that sanctifying grace can exist in a non-Christian.

          I know this, because I have lived this, and I would rather be exposed as a fool, than to continue as an hypocrite.

          The Pope does not teach that these people are saved.

          Whether His Holiness has prudently taught is a matter which I ought to have pursued, but instead I rashly accused Him of heresy.

          I will confess this tomorrow, God permitting, and I sincerely apologize to those whom I have offended or incited, and I thank all of those whose patience has finally allowed me to confront the error in my own words and the malice in my own will.

  • Rebecca_A_M

    Sorry to get here too late to download as an iBook for iPad. Much clunkier to highlight text for future reference with the PDF.