Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Saved By Hope"

So, the buzz didn't wash out... and not that that's a bad thing.

Contrary to prior reports that B16's next encyclical would be on development, as intimated in recent days in the Italian press, appearances are that the topic is, indeed, hope -- and the draft is completed...

...yet social, it seems, will make three.

In his Letter from Rome in last Friday's edition of The Tablet (available for free this week), Robert Mickens wrote that "sources at the Vatican confirmed" to him that the buzz saying "the
Pope was soon to publish a work on this second theological virtue was substantially true."

"The Pope has already written the document, which is said to be roughly 60 pages long and is likely be issued in the form of an Apostolic Exhortation," Mickens wrote, also noting that the text "is currently being translated from the original German into several other languages and will probably bear the title 'Spe Salvi' ('Saved by Hope')."

While one of Mickens' sources who's seen the text "was extremely critical, saying it was 'full of philosophical talk that you cannot untangle,'" The Tablet's Ohio-born man in Roman concluded that "in a world where many people are afflicted with pessimism, mistrust and – in a word – hopelessness, a fresh primer on this virtue might do some good."

Building on Mickens' scoop, CNS' John Thavis writes from Rome today that the document won't be a mere Exhortation, but this pontificate's second Encyclical:
The text, tentatively titled "Spe Salvi" ("Saved by Hope"), is about 65 pages, sources said Oct. 16. No release date has been set for the document.

The working title comes from St. Paul's letter to the Romans, in which he wrote: "For in hope we have been saved." The encyclical is said to explore the Christian understanding of hope, with reference to modern philosophy and the challenges of disbelief.

The pope worked on the encyclical this summer, when he had time to write during his sojourns in northern Italy and at his villa outside Rome. At the same time, he was working on a third encyclical that deals with social themes, Vatican officials said.

The pope published his first encyclical in late 2006. Titled "Deus Caritas Est" ("God Is Love"), it called for a deeper understanding of love as a gift from God to be shared in a self-sacrificial way.

The pope spoke about the importance of the virtue of hope in 2005, when he addressed Mexican bishops on their "ad limina" visits to Rome.

"Confronted by today's changing and complex panorama, the virtue of hope is subject to harsh trials in the community of believers. For this very reason, we must be apostles who are filled with hope and joyful trust in God's promises," the pope told the bishops.

From a pastoral standpoint, he added, hope means reminding Christians that God never abandons his people and is alive and active in the world.

"In contemporary society, which shows such visible signs of secularism, we must not give in to despair or a lack of enthusiasm in pastoral projects," he said.
Speaking of Thavis, the native Minnesotan and longtime Rome bureau chief for the US church's official news agency took the "Witness" chair the other night on Salt + Light's flagship interview program.

Stream's posted; check it out.