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The introduction states that one of the motives of the document is to recover the character of light proper to faith, capable of illuminating man’s whole existence, of helping him to distinguish good from evil, especially in an age like the modern one, in which believing is opposed to seeking and faith is seen as an illusion, a leap into the void that impedes man’s freedom.

The encyclical stresses the shared character of faith. “Faith is not something private, an individualistic conception, a subjective opinion,” it explains, adding that the light of faith passes from one generation to the next like a flame.

The encyclical is shorter than Benedict XVI’s works known so far. “Lumen Fidei” reaffirms the supremacy of religious faith over scientific knowledge or political beliefs and states that it should “illuminate” areas such as marriage, “understood as the stable union between man and woman.”

Bishop’s tiara

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lashes out, in the final chapter of a book being published Monday in Germany, against gay marriage and what he calls “the creed of antichrist” which, he says, punishes with social excommunication those who do not adhere to it.

“Modern society is formulating a creed of the antichrist and whoever opposes it is punished with social excommunication. Fear of the spiritual power of the antichrist is all too natural,” the Pope emeritus maintains.

The Pope Emeritus also uses the interview at the end of the book to settle accounts with some of his critics – some of them German theologians – who reproach him for constantly meddling in theological debates, thus undermining the authority of his successor Pope Francis.

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Benedict XVI also assures that there are theologians who want to silence his voice and gives as an example the reactions there were to an article of his in 2018 in the magazine “Comunnio” on the relations between Christianity and Judaism.

Emblem of the Vatican

To the alliance between the two is due, to a great extent, the change in attitudes towards the papacy both inside and outside the Church. Until then, the progressive sectors, Christian and non-Christian, were critical of the “Vicar of Christ”, if not clearly anti-papist. Conservative sectors declared themselves to be blind followers and defenders to the hilt.

We have an example in the attitudes towards the two previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. On the one hand, they both attracted criticism from progressive sectors for their condemnation of modernity and secularism, liberation theology and those who elaborated a theology faithful to the Second Vatican Council, as well as for their moral rigorism, religious traditionalism and attempt to confessionalize society. On the other hand, they generated the unconditional support of the conservative sectors of both the political world and the Catholic arch, the latter represented in the massive concentrations on the occasion of John Paul II’s trips -more than a hundred- and in the acclamations with which he was received with the cry of Totus tuus.

Flag of Pope Francis

“Two days later, a beautiful letter arrived from Pope Francis for Pope Benedict: a letter in which he assured him again and with very moving words of his support, his solidarity, sharing with him that he was counting on him.”

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“I only hope that people who read and have read the letter, people who know Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict, will not be influenced or convinced by such biased judgments. I hope so,” the archbishop said.

“We can speculate on how much all this is linked temporally or as a cause with what has been mentioned, that is – to name it precisely – the Synodal Way in Germany and other movements,” Ratzinger’s personal secretary said.

Returning to the report, the prelate confessed Benedict’s attitude on the matter: “Pope Benedict was asked if he was willing to participate in this report. He said, ‘I have nothing to hide, I will gladly do it.'”

“Of course, it is one thing to resist pressure and another thing to cope with it internally. But thank God he has managed to do it, he is calm and, above all, he has never lost his sense of humor,” he said.

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