Popes Benedict and FrancisPope Benedict had started drafting an encyclical on faith to complete the trilogy, on the three theological virtues, Deus Caritas Est (2005) on charity and Spe Salvi (2007) on hope.

On July 5 Pope Francis released Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith). He writes, “[Pope Benedict XVI] himself had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical on faith. For this I am deeply grateful to him, and as his brother in Christ I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own.”

I want to encourage you to read the actual encyclical.

I am conscious that people will be looking for differences with Pope Benedict’s style, approach, theology, etc. But be conscious, also, that this is Pope Francis’ completing Pope Benedict’s draft. Good luck to those of you trying to spot the seams – where Pope Benedict stops and Pope Francis starts.

I would be interested in any reactions of readers so far (put this in the comments if you like).

I would have liked to have seen, in an encyclical on faith, the place of doubt, the positive value of doubt. I would have liked to have seen the positive place of darkness (à la John of the Cross, for example). It is for this reason that I appreciate sections such as,

The sight which faith would give to Abraham would always be linked to the need to take this step forward: faith “sees” to the extent that it journeys, to the extent that it chooses to enter into the horizons opened up by God’s word. (9)

The light of faith comes in the stepping – not necessarily before it.

Faith by its very nature demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a countenance which will unveil itself personally in its own good time. (13)

The light of faith is a different way of seeing.

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