Spe Salvi: a new Papal encyclical

On Friday, Pope Benedict XVI released his second encyclical, Spe Salvi, or “Saved in Hope.” The bibical reference is to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 8:24, “For in hope we were saved.”

John Allen offers an analysis in the National Catholic Reporter:

If one were to compile a list of the core concerns of Joseph Ratzinger, his idees fixes over almost sixty years now of theological reflection, it might look something like this:

• Truth is not a limit upon freedom, but the condition of freedom reaching its true potential;

• Reason and faith need one another – faith without reason becomes extremism, while reason without faith leads to despair;

• The dangers of the modern myth of progress, born in the new science of the 16th century and applied to politics through the French Revolution and Marxism;

• The impossibility of constructing a just social order without reference to God;

• The urgency of separating eschatology, the longing for a “new Heaven and a new earth,” from this-worldly politics;

• Objective truth as the only real limit to ideology and the blind will to power.

All those themes take center stage once again in the encyclical Spe Salvi, released today in Rome. In that sense, one could argue that the text represents a sort of “Greatest Hits” collection of Ratzinger’s most important ideas, developed over a lifetime, and now presented in the form of an encyclical in his role as Pope Benedict XVI.

. . .

In essence, the message of Spe Salvi can be expressed this way: If human beings place their hopes for justice, redemption and a better life exclusively in this-worldly forces, whether it’s science, politics, or anything else, they’re lost. The carnage of the 20th century, the pope suggests, illustrates the folly of investing human ideology and technology with messianic expectations.

Instead, ultimate hope – what the pope describes as “the great hope” – lies only in God, because only through the moral and spiritual wisdom acquired through faith can technology and political structures be directed towards ends which are truly human.

Read it all here. The text of Spe Salvi can be found here.

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