A few months after the close of Vatican ii, it was Paul VI — the Pope who confirmed it and with respectful firmness guided it and began its implementation in difficult times — who desired a Year of Faith on the 17th centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the year in which the Council ended, 30 June 1968, with the Creed of the People of God . If, indeed, “the Council does not specifically address faith, it speaks of it on every page, it recognizes its vital and supernatural character, it assumes it integrally and firmly, and builds on this its doctrine”, Pope Montini explained on 8 March 1967.
The same conviction led Benedict XVI — who as a young theologian experienced Vatican ii firsthand — to announce a similar celebration on the 50th anniversary of its opening and 20 years after the promulgation of the Catechism , the fruit of the Council. His essential aim is the same as that which guided Paul VI, namely, to “realize the essential importance that the Council, consistent with the doctrinal Tradition of the Church, attributes to the faith”, to which it gave a “new witness and new radiance”.
As the Note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirms, at the centre of this new Year proclaimed by the Pope there is certainly no ideology but the encounter with God, the friend of man. The God, who revealed himself to the Shepherds and to the Magi, is “so close and so small”, as Benedict XVI said in his Homily for the Epiphany. However, in order to find the true light of the world — a light that can transform every human being — it is necessary to undertake the same journey made by the Wise Men, who came from the East, who “wanted to understand what being human is all about”.
And in describing the Magi as “courageous, yet humble” men, the Pope was actually speaking of his own personal search. This search — with a “restless heart” that drives one toward God — he presented as exemplary, for the bishops he ordained and for the Cardinals he will create, but ultimately for every human being, believer or nonbeliever.
St. Peter’s Square
Sept. 17, 2019
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