Encyclical Seen as Tackling Urgent Need

Papal Aide Comments on "Spe Salvi"

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's encyclical on the theological virtue of hope confronts one of the most urgent problems of our time, says a Vatican spokesman.



Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, analyzed on the most recent edition of the Vatican television weekly "Octava Dies" the context of the new encyclical "Spe Salvi" (Saved in Hope).

The spokesman said that the Holy Father demonstrates how, "in the face of the weariness and obscurity of the present, we need a trustworthy and 'substantial' hope to move confidently toward a goal: a hope that truly changes our life."

"This is the hope that is given to those who believe in God who is love," he added, synthesizing the contents of the document, released Friday.

Father Lombardi continued: "Dedicating his second encyclical to hope, Benedict XVI has pinpointed with precision one of the most dramatic and urgent problems of our time. He is convinced that the rejection of Christian faith and hope -- the rejection of God -- in the end brings man to lose himself.

"But this does not at all lead [the Pope] to a merely negative critique; on the contrary, once again he works out a position of dialogue, of reciprocal help between faith and reason."

The Vatican spokesman pointed out that Benedict XVI affirmed "that together with the self-critique of the modern age, 'there also has to be a self-critique of modern Christianity, which must constantly renew its self-understanding setting out from its roots.'"

Father Lombardi continued: "But so that Christians learn again what they have to offer to the world they must set out again from God; not just any God, but the God who has come to meet us and is revealed in Christ as Love.

"Faith in this love nourishes a prayer of desire that enlarges the heart; it supports a committed and active hope that knows and wants to change the world precisely because it aims beyond it; it finds the strength to bear sufferings and find meaning in them, even when they are unjust; it allows us to look upon the final judgment as a place for the re-establishment of justice for all, precisely in the perspective of love."

"We are grateful to Benedict XVI," added the spokesman, "for having once again brought us with firmness and sweetness to the decisive questions of the Christian proposal for man and the world, those that we often run the risk of forgetting even though they are the ones upon which our way of living and walking in the world depend."