In Porta Fidea (“The Door of Faith”), his apostolic letter of October 2011, Pope Benedict XVI declared that a Year of Faith will begin on Oct .11, 2012, and conclude on Nov. 24, 2013.
The first day of the year will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) in October 1962, and also the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the year of observance, Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism in order to deepen their knowledge of the faith.
Over the course of its history, the church has from time to time called upon Catholics to dedicate themselves to deepening their grasp of a particular aspect of the faith. In 1967, for example, Pope Paul VI announced a year commemorating the 19th centenary of the martyrdoms of St. Peter and St. Paul. The 1967 year asked participants to recall the supreme acts of witness of the saints so that their martyrdoms might inspire the present-day members of the church to collectively and individually make a sincere profession of faith.
According to Porta Fidei, the 2012 Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world.” In other words, it is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion-to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him.
Benedict has described this conversion as opening the door of faith. This door is opened at baptism, but during this special year, Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his church. Writing in Porta Fidei, Benedict said: “The door of faith (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace.”
The Vatican’s Synod on the New Evangelization is timed to take place at the beginning of the Year of Faith, Oct. 7-28. The new evangelization is first and foremost a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, but also a challenge to Catholics to have confidence in the gospel and be willing to share it.