Friday 21 October 2011

Year of Faith (2): inspired by Pope Paul VI

When I first read news reports that Pope Benedict XVI had announced a "Year of Faith" I thought immediately of the "Year of Faith" celebrated at the initiative of Pope Paul VI from 29th June 1967 to 30th June 1968. That year culminated in the solemn proclamation by Pope Paul of what is now known as his Credo of the People of God. This formed the homily during the concluding celebration of the year on 30th June 1968, and was an extended proclamation of the Nicene Creed used at Mass; Fr Tim gives some idea of its significance in this post. It was subsequently promulgated as a motu proprio. I have on my bookshelves Monsignor Eugene Kevane's Creed and Catechetics which tells the story behind Pope Paul's Credo and provides much documentation relating to the "Year of Faith" and the background controversies in catechetics.
I was therefore delighted to read in Porta Fidei n.4 an explicit reference to Pope Paul VI's "Year of Faith":
It is not the first time that the Church has been called to celebrate a Year of Faith. My venerable Predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI announced one in 1967, to commemorate the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul on the 19th centenary of their supreme act of witness. He thought of it as a solemn moment for the whole Church to make “an authentic and sincere profession of the same faith”; moreover, he wanted this to be confirmed in a way that was “individual and collective, free and conscious, inward and outward, humble and frank”. He thought that in this way the whole Church could reappropriate “exact knowledge of the faith, so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it, and confess it”. The great upheavals of that year made even more evident the need for a celebration of this kind. It concluded with the Credo of the People of God, intended to show how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past.
Pope Paul's equivalent of Porta Fidei was an Apostolic Exhortation Petrum et Paulum Apostolos. Reading that exhortation suggests that Pope Benedict has been inspired in a more specific way by Paul VI's earlier "Year of Faith".

Compare Pope Benedict XVI, in Porta Fidei n.8:
On this happy occasion, I wish to invite my brother bishops from all over the world to join the Successor of Peter, during this time of spiritual grace that the Lord offers us, in recalling the precious gift of faith. We want to celebrate this Year in a worthy and fruitful manner. Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified, so as to help all believers in Christ to acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing. We will have the opportunity to profess our faith in the Risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world; in our homes and among our families, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times. Religious communities as well as parish communities, and all ecclesial bodies old and new, are to find a way, during this Year, to make a public profession of the Credo.
And Pope Paul VI, in Petrum et Paulum Apostolos:
We would be very happy if in every cathedral the Creed were recited expressly in honour of SS. Peter and Paul, in the presence of the bishop, the college of priests, the seminarians and the lay Catholics active in promoting the kingdom of God, men and women Religious, and as many members as possible of the assembly of the faithful. Similarly every parish and every religious house should do the same in the presence of its assembled community. And so we should like to suggest that on a fixed day this profession of faith be made in every single Christian household, in every Catholic association, in every Catholic school, hospital and place of worship, in every group and gathering where the voice of faith can be raised to proclaim and strengthen a sincere adherence to our common Christian calling.
The idea that, on a given day, every Catholic community in a diocese should gather to solemnly proclaim the Creed appears to me a very powerful one.

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