Vatican City

Rare joint encyclical by two living popes published

Francis and Benedict co-author call for living in faith

Rare joint encyclical by two living popes published

Vatican City, July 5 - An historic papal encyclical, produced by not one but two pontiffs, was released Friday urging stronger faith and less arrogance among Catholics. While this is Pope Francis's first encyclical, he has made it clear that much of the work in "Lumen Fidei" or "The Light of Faith" was produced by his predecessor, Benedict XVI. "It's an encyclical written by four hands, so to speak, because Pope Benedict began writing it and he gave it to me (to complete)," Francis recently told bishops in Rome. Francis, the first pope from Latin America, was elected less than four months ago on March 13, making the publication of this encyclical something of a modern record. It urges believers to avoid arrogance, advising that "faith is not a truth that is imposed by violence, it is not a truth that crushes the individual," but rather it "reawakens critical senses" and "broadens the horizons of reason". The text - released just days before Francis travels to the Italian island of Lampedusa to honour the thousands of desperate migrants who have died fleeing northern Africa - also reminded followers of the importance of Christian faith in maintaining society and its institutions. "When faith is weakened, the foundations of humanity also risk being weakened," according to the text, built on a draft prepared by Benedict, who was unable to complete the work during his pontificate. This encyclical was to have been Benedict's fourth on the theological virtues, and follows the best-selling trilogy: Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), published in 2006, Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope), in 2007, and Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), in 2009. Citing his failing physical strength, Benedict abdicated in February, triggering the elections that brought in Francis. One of the major events of the Year of Faith, which ends on November 24, Friday's encyclical was presented at a press conference including Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops. The Vatican intends to print 500,000 copies of the 90-page Italian edition of the initial print run, priced at 3.50 euros each. The encyclical was designed as a kind of summary of the ideas from a synod that ended last October 24 on the subject of the new evangelization, but also discussed "evangelization in general". Benedict was originally expected to complete the encyclical in the first half of 2013 but his resignation, announced to a stunned world on February 11 and carried out on February 28, made this impossible. He is now retired and lives in the Holy See, marking the first time in history that two popes - one serving, the other not - have lived simultaneously behind the Vatican walls.

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