Hope at the heart of second encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI

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spe_salvi_en.jpgOn 30 November 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued his second encyclical, this time exploring the theme of hope.

Entitled "In hope we are saved", the text of Spe Salvi is a personal reflection by the Holy Father. In 2006, less than a year after having been elected to the pontificate, Benedict XVI had consecrated his first encyclical, Deus caritas est (God is love), to the theme of the Christian understanding of love and commitment toward others.

In this second meditation, the Holy Father deals with the incompatibility between Christian hope and the individualism found within society. "Our hope is always essentially also hope for others," he writes. In asking "what can I do in order that others may be saved," we do the "utmost for (our) own personal salvation," he states.

Benedict XVI affirms that faith is hope and that there are specific "settings" where it is learned, particularly through action and suffering. "The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through ‘com-passion' is a cruel and inhuman society. Yet society cannot accept its suffering members and support them in their trials unless individuals are capable of doing so themselves; moreover, the individual cannot accept another's suffering unless he personally is able to find meaning in suffering, a path of purification and growth in maturity, a journey of hope."

According to the Holy Father, prayer is without question a school for hope. "When no one listens to me any more, God still listens to me. When I can no longer talk to anyone or call upon anyone, I can always talk to God. When there is no longer anyone to help me deal with a need or expectation that goes beyond the human capacity for hope, he can help me," the Pope writes.

An encyclical is a letter from the Pope that is addressed to the Bishops of the world and, through them, to the clergy, those in consecrated life and all the faithful. It is generally of significant teaching importance.

By mid-December, the Publications Service of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops will publish this important text by Pope Benedict XVI. Copies of this encyclical can now be ordered for $6.95 CDN (plus tax and shipping) by ordering online at, by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by phone at 1-800-769-1147 or by fax at (613) 241-5090. The Pope's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, is also available at the same price.

Last Updated on Tuesday, October 20 2009  
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