We must raise $3,183 by March 31st to pay critical bills. Essential to continue our mission. Donate now!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

No, it's not a 'joint' encyclical

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 05, 2013

Just to guard against confusion, let’s get something straight: Lumen Fidei is not a “joint project” written by two Popes. There is only one Pope—Francis—and he is the author of this encyclical.

It’s no secret—in fact Pope Francis chose to emphasize it—that Pope Benedict XVI began drafting this encyclical before his resignation. But when he stepped down, Benedict handed the project over to his successor. Pope Francis was free to do whatever he wanted with the manuscript: to discard it, to amend it, or to complete it. With that transfer, it became his encyclical.

An encyclical is a teaching document, carrying the authority of the Roman Pontiff. Benedict relinquished that authority; the teaching authority behind this encyclical is that of Francis.

Yes, Benedict wrote the first draft—or at least much of it—and a discerning reader can detect the traces of his prose style. But it’s quite common for a Pontiff to have someone prepare an early draft of an encyclical; the final product remains the Pope’s responsibility.

In this case, the early draft was done by an earlier occupant of St. Peter’s throne. That’s not unprecedented. As John Allen reminds us, Pope Benedict’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est picked up some themes from a draft begun by his own predecessor, Blessed John Paul II.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our March expenses ($3,183 to go):
$35,000.00 $31,816.87
9% 91%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: mario.f.leblanc5598 - Jul. 05, 2013 9:01 PM ET USA

    As Cardinal Ouellet said (in French on Vatican Radio), Francis is in all of it while Benedict is in some parts of it. Let us read it as a teaching from Peter's Successor.

  • Posted by: tturner3998 - Jul. 05, 2013 3:32 PM ET USA

    Four hands? That sounds joint to me. Like a duet. Something Benedict would appreciate!

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org
Shop Amazon

Recent Catholic Commentary

Scientific Evidence for the Creator 18 hours ago
A request for help from our unregistered followers March 25
Catholic movie watching is more important than watching Catholic movies March 25
Cardinal Kasper: Will flattery get him somewhere? March 25
An ecclesiastical battle over Germany March 24

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope announces Jubilee: a Year of Mercy CWN - March 13