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December 01, 2007


Benjamin Ometan

I think Benedict XVI's focus is really commendable. Right from the begining of his papacy, it is clear that he intends to tell the world why Christianity is refreashingly different and unique. He had hardly began his papacy when Deus Caritas est came out, focusing on the theological virtue of love: that which is uniquely Christian about Christianity. Again he releases "Jesus of Nazareth" a book which contributes to the ongoing Historical Jesus debate. Jesus of Nazareth begins with the premise that it is not possible to capture the essence of the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth without anchoring his person in God. His reflections lead to the traditional Catholic position: the uniqueness of Christ and his relatedness to God. Now in "Spe Salvi" the Pope focuses on another theolgical virtue: hope. Firstly in the chronology of his encyclicals one sees the Augustinian in him--love is the root and crown of all virtue. The very title of the new encyclical "in hope we are saved" lends to the pressuposition that there is a connection between hope and faith. As the Cardinal in charge of the Congregation for the discipline of Faith, the theological virtue of faith had been his major discipline. Now he wishes to explain to the world the pillars on which the faith depends. He finds in Augustine the perfect model for this: Faith works by love and cannot exist without hope (Augustine, Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love). It is precisely this that makes Christianity so different, and so refreashing. Christians BELEIVE that God's revelation to humankind has reached its apogee in Christ whose action on the cross prompts the Christian into an intimate relationship of LOVE with God leading him to HOPE in God's promise to make all things new. Hope here takes on an eschatological dimension which is not locked out of Christian life but is part and parcel of it. Here Benedict sounds so much like Moltmann and I am so happy that this Theology of Hope is being celebrated in the Catholic Church

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