"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Spe Salvi

Pope Benedict's latest encyclical "Spe Salvi" was released today. Concerning the individualistic notion of salvation he writes:

Against this, drawing upon the vast range of patristic theology, de Lubac was able to demonstrate that salvation has always been considered a "social" reality. Indeed, the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of a "city" (cf. 11:10, 16; 12:22; 13:14) and therefore of communal salvation. Consistently with this view, sin is understood by the Fathers as the destruction of the unity of the human race, as fragmentation and division. Babel, the place where languages were confused, the place of separation, is seen to be an expression of what sin fundamentally is. Hence "redemption" appears as the reestablishment of unity, in which we come together once more in a union that begins to take shape in the world community of believers. (section 14)

See also in sections 16 and 17 what Pope Benedict says about the development of the individualistic notion of salvation.

Then later in the document he writes:

[W]e should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. (section 48)

(See also how this communal understanding of human persons affects his discussion of purgatory in sections 45-47.)

Lord Jesus, we hope for the true union of all Christians, according to the passion of Your sacred heart. Please bring to us that unity, through your Church. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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