ROMA, November 30, 2007 – The encyclical on hope "Spe Salvi," which Benedict XVI signed and published today, the feast of Saint Andrew and just two days before the beginning of Advent, was motivated by these factors described in paragraph 22:
"A self-critique of modernity is needed in dialogue with Christianity and its concept of hope.
"In this dialogue Christians too, in the context of their knowledge and experience, must learn anew in what their hope truly consists, what they have to offer to the world and what they cannot offer.
"Flowing into this self-critique of the modern age there also has to be a self-critique of modern Christianity, which must constantly renew its self-understanding setting out from its roots."
In this twofold "self-criticism" of modern culture and Christianity, the pope continues, "reason and faith need one another in order to fulfil their true nature and their mission."
These few lines clearly show how strongly the encyclical is marked by Joseph Ratzinger as philosopher, theologian, and pope.
But it would be a mistake to expect to read in it nothing more than an erudite lecture. The style is vibrant, the exposition rich with imagery, and the narrative enlivened by a wide cast of characters.
The entire story of the world passes before the eyes of the reader, from its beginning to end. The final pages on Christ as judge, on hell, on purgatory, on paradise, are stunning for their mere presentation – having disappeared almost completely from the preaching in the churches – and even more for the way in which they are developed.
The text is required reading from start to finish, as is always the case for the writings of Benedict XVI, which never have just one key page or the easily isolated central passage.
*Read the entire encyclical on Christian hope here: