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Pope Benedict XVI opens Year of Faith

By and on Thursday, 11 October 2012

Benedict XVI arrives at St Peter's Square for the Mass opening the Year of Faith (Photo: AP/Andrew Medichini)

Benedict XVI arrives at St Peter's Square for the Mass opening the Year of Faith (Photo: AP/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Benedict XVI opened the Year of Faith this morning at a Mass in St Peter’s Square attended by 14 surviving Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

The open-air Mass, which also marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, was preceded by a grand procession of 400 or so bishops.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, said yesterday: “When you look at the television images of Vatican II from 50 years ago, first of all you see a big procession with all the bishops. We will repeat the same.

“It should be a moment of prayer, a moment of spirituality, and also a moment when we can take into serious consideration the teachings of Vatican II,” he said.

The papal Mass was concelebrated by bishops and theologians who, like the Pope, served as Council Fathers or experts at Vatican II.

Also present were the presidents of the bishops’ conferences from around the world, including Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

Archbishop Nichols told The Catholic Herald: “It will be an honour to concelebrate the papal Mass to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II ecumenical council and to celebrate the inauguration of the Year of Faith.

“The work of the Council remains our work today and our hope is that this Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary will help us to see the way in which its documents strengthen the great tradition of our faith.

“I’m also pleased to accompany Archbishop Rowan Williams, who has been invited by Pope Benedict to address the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation, as we explore afresh the Church’s role in society and engage in dialogue with its different voices.”

After the episcopal procession, the Sacred Scriptures were enthroned, just as they were in a ceremony before the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Fisichella has said this is to “remind everyone that they were at the service of the Word of God, which lies at the heart of the Church’s activities”.

He said the lectern and copy of the Sacred Scriptures would be the same ones as used 50 years ago.

Archbishop Fisichella also said that during the ceremony, extracts from the Council’s four constitutions would be read out.

After the Mass, meanwhile, Benedict XVI will issue a series of “Messages to the People of God” in a re-enactment of Pope Paul VI’s conclusion of the Council. These messages will be directed to rulers, scientists, artists, women, workers and the young.

Scottish composer James MacMillan will represent the world’s artists by receiving from the Pope a copy of the Church’s “Message to Artists” composed 50 years ago.

Earlier this week Mr MacMillan said: “I am honoured and humbled to have received this invitation. I have long been aware of Pope Paul’s message to artists at the end of the Second Vatican Council. I have always found it moving. It shows that the Church does not discriminate. It was a message to all artists not just Catholic ones. In it he said: ‘If you are friends of genuine art, you are our friends.’ This reminds us that the Church’s historic mission is the same as Christ’s – to the whole of mankind.

“Art can be a window on to the mind of God. Through this window we can encounter beauty and divine truth. Artists can be peculiarly susceptible to the breath of the Holy Spirit which can then inspire their work. As a Catholic artist I have always felt overwhelmed that my Church has recognised this truth, and continues to do so. I am proud that the Holy Father has invited me to the Mass in Rome to represent my fellow artists. I am excited that the on-going dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and creative people is continuing and that I can play a part in it.”

The Year of Faith is intended to mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the ceremony today the Pope will present a special edition of the Catechism to two representatives of catechists, one of whom will be Dr Caroline Farey of the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham.

Meanwhile, in cathedrals through England and Wales bishops will mark the start of the Year with their own Masses. In some dioceses the Masses will be on Sunday instead of today.

The Year concludes on November 24 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

  • Guest686

    Year of faith? What a childish concept. Faith is in your heart. It is permanent. It gets less or more. It is often forever. It does not depend on the calendar. Why should you have a Year of Faith? You should have a Lifetime of faith

  • Guest686

    Apart from Ratzinger and Kung who are the Council Fathers bishops and cardinals who are still alive from 50years ago? Avery Dulles and Marini were at Vatican 2. Sadly they have recently died.

  • Paul_David

    Perhaps for you this idea of a renewal of faith isn´t so important however I´m sure that with our prayers this could be a good chance for people who are coming to the faith or have lost theirs somewhat to come back to the Church. Unfortunately, we are not all perfect and so things like this can really be beneficial as a way to motivate people.

  • whytheworldisending

    It is called “Celebration.” When one celebrates, one sets time aside for activities which affirm the degree to which one values what one celebrates. When one does this - because there is a contrast with the background of one’s normal routine, and with the background of values held by non-participants – one’s activities inevitably stand out and attention is drawn towards what is valued. Opportunities for affirming cherished values with others who share those values are joyful occasions, because we call people who share our values friends, and friendship is deepened when shared values are affirmed together. Thus, celebrations involve festivities – parties if you like. Nobody has a problem understanding secular parties on particular dates – birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc. In secular society celebrity culture has promoted a certain form of “partying” – getting drunk, taking drugs, brawling and engaging in casual sex – as a way of affirming hedonistic values, but with friends like that……..

    The difficulty for some people is comprehending that one can celebrate without alcohol, drugs and the rest of it, and have a great deal of fun into the bargain. It all depends on your values, and your values depend on what you believe in. Faith transforms the way people live their lives on a daily, weekly and yearly basis, but taking time out reminds us and the rest of the world why. The Queen’s Jubilee celebration year continues to be cebrated enjoyably and peacfully, and highlights the good work she has done these past decades. It recalls the values Britain cherished when she was crowned and invites us to reaffirm those values today - Christian values.

  • Paul Malimi

    Childlish concept??? what do you mean? its a celebration of what we believe,its time to pause and think seriously on what we believe,its never childlish,its maturity!! we dont need to criticize each and everything from Rome!!!!

  • Parasum

    Here’s a list:

    Fr. Kueng was a *peritus*. like the then Father Ratzinger, and has never been made a bishop, so he doesn’t count as a  Council Father.

  • Guest686

    thanks parasum for the list. it was 50years ago so those involved are “getting on a bit” Nice to see the bishop of babylon is the list, They tried to eliminate his country under “shock and awe’

  • Guest686

    Hopefully you celebrate what you believe EVERYDAY. Yes its good to take stock of wehat you belive, why and how strongly. But you should do this everyday. That is my point. Yes faith may come like waves with ebbs and flows but my point is that FAITH is for a lifetime not for one particular year!

  • Lee The Heretic Converter

    Sounds like a celebration of The “Two Finger Salute” to the Timeless faith, which certainly has no needed to be celebrated as if it were the celebration of a legitimate government cum monarchy ! OH NO, WAIT, it was both if those things, hence the reason why its celebrations ate being rammed down our throats. Christum Regnum, exaudi oratianum meam et clamour meas ad te veniat.