Bishop Smith attended the Mass for the Opening of the Year of Faith, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter’s Square, Rome on Thursday 11 October 2012.
The occasion commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, which Bishop Smith witnessed as a member of the Council’s Secretariat.
During his homily, Pope Benedict drew on the themes of the Second Vatican Council, seeing them as setting out the path for the new evangelisation, which this Year of Faith represents. The following is an excerpt from the Holy Father’s homily, recalling his personal experience of Vatican II:
During the Council, there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past. I believe that the most important thing is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary men and women. But I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the “letter” of the Council – that is to its texts – also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them. Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity. The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change.
If today the Church proposes a Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents.