Some further thoughts on “Lumen Fidei”

After writing an editorial, “Throwing Down the Gauntlet of Faith” (July 8th), about the encyclical, Lumen Fidei, I wrote a longer and more thorough piece, “Unity and the Light of Faith” for Catholic Pulse. Here is some of the opening:

In a unique way, Lumen Fidei brings to completion the papal project, if you will, begun with Pope Benedict’s 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”): a detailed and vigorous set of encyclicals focused on the three theological virtues. That this new encyclical is presented and authored by Pope Francis only reinforces the constant and important emphasis within this newest encyclical on unity: unity of faith, unity in truth, unity in the Church, journeying in unity, the unity of the divine plan, and the unity of the Godhead. The cooperation of Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict is, I think, a sort of quiet rebuke to those who would fret over and fixate upon the differences between the two men to the point of agitation. Comparisons are normal; they can even be helpful. But the very production of this text — which is bold, humble, direct, nuanced, intellectually demanding, and spiritually challenging — is a reminder of what the papacy is and what it is meant to do. “The Successor of Peter,” writes Pope Francis (having acknowledged that he had merely “added a few contributions” of his own to Benedict’s draft), “yesterday, today and tomorrow, is always called to strengthen his brothers and sisters in the priceless treasure of that faith which God has given as a light for humanity’s path” (#7).

Rather than be concerned or bothered by how obviously different Popes Benedict and Francis are in many respects, we should rejoice in how faith in the One God, who is a perfect communion of three Persons, so beautifully unites the people of God and calls all men into the saving union and communion of the Church. While the world speaks endlessly of a “diversity” that is often dull, coerced, and thoroughly homogenized, the Church demonstrates a unity that is possible precisely because it flows from God, is rooted in truth, is revealed in love, and is expressed in joy: “This is also the great joy of faith: a unity of vision in one body and one spirit. Saint Leo the Great could say: ‘If faith is not one, then it is not faith’.” (#47).

In my previous Catholic Pulse essay, “Love, Hope, and Truth: Benedict XVI’s Three Encyclicals,” I sought to show how Deus Caritas Est (on Christian love), Spe Salvi (on Christian hope), and Caritas in Veritate (on integral human development) together provide “a cohesive, integrated understanding of the person of Jesus Christ (Christology), the nature and mission of the Church (ecclesiology), and salvation and the last things (soteriology and eschatology).” It seems fitting to consider the same “-ologies” within Lumen Fidei, keeping in mind that there is no substitute for reading and prayerfully contemplating the entire encyclical!

Read the entire essay at

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About Carl E. Olson 1233 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.