Hope fragranced encyclical

Artur Stelmasiak

Christian hope is the main theme of the second encyclical of Benedict XVI entitled ‘Spe salvi’. The Pope gives answers to the question: What is the fragrance of hope? ‘He says that Christian hope has the fragrance of salvation’, thinks Rev. Professor Henryk Seweryniak from Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University. The second papal encyclical was published in eight languages. Its Polish version was presented on 30 November in the office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in Warsaw.
– The Holy Father has dealt with theology for many years. No wonder that he has devoted his first encyclicals to the theological virtues: faith, hope and love’, says Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, the Papal Nuncio in Poland. The Pope began with the most important virtue, which is love. And now we have hope.
The Pope reminds us that the contemporary world was taken in by its faith in progress and people were fooled by the idea that they can create paradise on earth themselves. ‘Benedict XVI shows us that that way is disastrous. Progress will not give us true hope’, Archbishop Kowalczyk stressed. ‘Man who has not encountered God in his life has not fully experienced hope. Since it is Christ that is our hope for resurrection’, the Papal Nuncio adds. According to Rev. Prof. Henryk Seweryniak, the new encyclical is relatively short. ‘This is a short encyclical about great hope, with much emphasis on great’, he says. In his opinion, Benedict XVI is a contemporary Father of the Church, a wise man who can answer contemporary questions. One of such questions was asked by Richard Dawkins in his popular, regrettably, book ‘The God Delusion’. He asked, ‘what does hope smell like.’ Today the Pope answers this question. He says that true, great Christian hope smells of salvation’, thinks the outstanding theologian from Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University. In ‘Spe salvi’ the Pope reminds us of many philosophical and theological thoughts. He quotes the Fathers of the Church and the authors of the materialistic philosophy. He gives an outline of man’s turning away from hope. The meanders of the history of the European thinking – according to Benedict XVI – caused us to pose questions: what can we put hope in. ‘The Pope directs us, theologians, to the theology of the future, the theology of hope’, Fr Seweryniak stresses. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth then it is not progress at all but a threat for man and for the world. The ethical progress cannot be compared with the scientific progress. Knowledge can be summed up and every generation can contribute something new to the treasury of the whole of humanity whereas every generation must work out its moral-ethical progress.
In general, the latest encyclical is a very optimistic message to the world. According to Fr Seweryniak, when you investigate the whole teaching of Fr Joseph Ratzinger as a theologian, then as a cardinal and the President of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now as the Pope, you can see some change of the emphasis. ‘The theology of young Ratzinger was very warm and optimistic. Then because of his function he had to deal with theological errors. That’s why, he had to show clear borders and sometimes it was hard for him to speak about optimism. Today we can feel an optimistic spirit of the former theologian’, Fr Seweryniak says.

"Niedziela" 49/2007

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl