Indian cardinal lauds encyclical as bold call to proclaim faith

Bangkok, Thailand, Jul 23, 2013 / 12:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis' encyclical “Lumen Fidei” is notable for exploring the “valuable richness” of faith and for being an “answer to the present challenges to faith,” according to the Archbishop of Bombay.

“Lumen Fidei” is a “challenge to us not to take our faith for granted, but to understand our faith, to live it ethically, and proclaim it confidently,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias told CNA July 22.

Cardinal Gracias appreciated Pope Francis' “down to earth, direct approach,” as shown in his statement that the encyclical was “written by four hands.”

The encyclical has the “theological depth” and insights of  Benedict XVI as well as the “direct approach” of Pope Francis, making concrete examples to form direct appeals to people of God.

“I think the combination has been excellent (in) the depth, clarity and appeal” of the document.

While the encyclical is addressed to all the faithful, Cardinal Gracias examined it in the light of his Asian context, linking it to Blessed John Paul II's 1999 apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Asia,” which promoted a “great harvest of faith” on that continent.

“Lumen Fidei” is addressed to the “universal” Church, Cardinal Gracias said, and each diocese is called to pastorally “apply” the teaching of the Bishop of Rome to its “particular” situation.

The cardinal indicated that the years between Blessed John Paul II's apostolic exhortation to Asian Catholics and the present Holy Father's encyclical letter have been the occasion of a “reawakening,” a call to rediscover the richness of the faith in Asian cultures.

“I think everything links up beautifully with 'Ecclesia in Asia,' which speaks of the richness of faith in the Asian context and the challenges to us to make an Asian response.”

Cardinal Gracias said that Benedict XVI's call for a “deepening” of our faith has been served by his successor's encyclical, which has helped in really “understanding” the “richness” of the light of faith in the midst of darkness, and in showing how the values of the Gospel can be the “answers to our problems.”

There is a “cry against corruption,”  a cry for “good governance” and an “attitude of servant leadership” all over the world, Cardinal Gracias reflected, adding that “Lumen Fidei” is an effort to inculturate the light of faith so as to let the Gospel form better societies.

“This is evangelization,” he said, “understanding the faith, living the faith, and proclaiming the faith.”

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