The Shrine

Year of Faith

PASTORAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR
THE YEAR OF FAITH

With the Apostolic Letter of 11 October 2011, Porta fidei, Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of Faith. This year will begin on 11 October 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, and will conclude on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King.

This year will be a propitious occasion for the faithful to understand more profoundly that the foundation of Christian faith is “the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”[1] Founded on the encounter with the Risen Christ, faith can be rediscovered in its wholeness and all its splendor. “In our days too faith is a gift to rediscover, to cultivate and to bear witness to” because the Lord “grants each one of us to live the beauty and joy of being Christians.”[2]

The beginning of the Year of Faith coincides with the anniversaries of two great events which have marked the life of the Church in our days: the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, called by Blessed Pope John XXIII (11 October 1962), and the twentieth of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, given to the Church by Blessed Pope John Paul II (11 October 1992).

The Council, according to Pope John XXIII, wanted “to transmit doctrine, pure and whole, without attenuations or misrepresentations,” in such a way that “this sure and immutable teaching, which must be respected faithfully, is elaborated and presented in a way which corresponds to the needs of our time.”[3] In this regard, the opening words of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium remain of primary importance: “Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature, (cfr. Mk 16:15) to bring the light of Christ to all men, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church.”[4] Beginning with the light of Christ, which purifies, illuminates and sanctifies in the celebration of the sacred liturgy (cfr. Constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium) and with His divine word (cfr. Dogmatic Constitution, Dei Verbum), the Counil wanted to elaborate on the intimate nature of the Church (cfr. Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen gentium) and its relationship with the contemporary world (cfr. Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et spes). Around these four Constitutions, the true pillars of the Council, are arranged the Declarations and Decrees which address some of the major challenges of the day.

After the Council the Church – under the sure guidance of the Magisterium and in continuity with the whole Tradition – set about ensuring the reception and application of the teaching of the Council in all its richness. To assist in the correct reception of the Council, the Popes have frequently convoked the Synod of Bishops,[5] first instituted by the Servant of God, Paul VI, in 1965, providing the Church with clear guidance through the various post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations. The next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in October 2012, will have as its theme: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.

Read more on the Year of Faith at www.annusfidei.va.


[1] Benedict XVI, Enc. Letter, Deus caritas est, 25 December 2005, n. 1.

[2] Id., Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 10 January 2010.

[3] John XXIII, Address of the solemn opening of the Ecumenical Vatican Council II, 11 October 1962.

[4] Conc. Ecum. Vat. II, Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen gentium, n. 1.

[5] The Ordinary Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops have treated the following topics: The preservation and strengthening of the Catholic Faith, its integrity, vigor, development, historical and doctrinal coherence (1967), The ministerial priesthood and justice in the world (1971), Evangelization in the modern world (1974), Catechesis in our time (1977), The Christian Family (1980), Penance and reconciliation in the mission of the Church (1983), The vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the world (1987), The formation of priests in actual circumstances (1991), Consecrated life and its mission in the Church and in the world (1994), The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the hope of the world (2001), The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the Church (2005), The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church (2008).