October 12, 2012

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Year of Faith: What we profess and live

John F. FinkThis week, on Oct. 11, the Catholic Church began the “Year of Faith.” Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed this year, he said, “because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.”

As this newspaper has reported frequently, this special year began on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In the apostolic letter in which he announced the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict said that he hoped it would be an opportunity “to rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed.”

Therefore, I hope to do my part. My next series of columns will be about the content of the faith we profess, celebrate, live and pray. I will write about what the Catholic Church teaches and practices. In the process, I’m sure I will also try to refute some of the objections that modern secularists have toward the Church.

I hope I’ll show why adherence to the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church is the best way for people to find happiness—not only eternal happiness in heaven, but happiness, too, here on Earth.

Catholics are a diverse people. As is so evident these days, some call themselves conservative or orthodox Catholics, while others claim to be liberal or progressive Catholics.

Obviously, in this election year, some Catholics are Democrats and some are Republicans. Some Catholics go to Mass daily and pray frequently throughout the day, and others are less devout. In other words, there is an often legitimate pluralism in the Catholic Church.

However, there are also basic doctrines that all Catholics are expected to believe, and there are basic devotions that Catholics practice. Most of those doctrines—but not all—are included in the Catholic Church’s two creeds, the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed. Anyone who doesn’t accept those doctrines should not go around calling himself or herself a Catholic.

In my series of columns, I’m sure I will return frequently to those creeds. My guide will be the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It, obviously, contains the official teachings of the Church.

Pope Benedict called it “a text promulgated by my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, with a view to illustrating for all the faithful the power and beauty of the faith.”

When he promulgated the catechism 20 years ago, Pope John Paul noted that it was produced with the collaboration of Catholic bishops all over the world.

“This response,” he said, “elicits in me a deep feeling of joy because the harmony of so many voices truly expresses what could be called the ‘symphony’ of the faith.”

However, I’m sure that I will also use other sources for my columns, especially the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, prepared by the U.S. bishops to make the Catechism of the Catholic Church most appropriate for American Catholics. I firmly believe that every Catholic home should have a copy of one of those catechisms as well as a Catholic Bible. †

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