Given the perception of a serious opportunity for spreading the faith, Pope Benedict declared the current Year of Faith:
4. In the light of all this, I have decided to announce a Year of Faith. It will begin on 11 October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and it will end on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on 24 November 2013. The starting date of 11 October 2012 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text promulgated by my Predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, [Fidei Depositum] with a view to illustrating for all the faithful the power and beauty of the faith. This document, an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council, was requested by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 as an instrument at the service of catechesis[Cf. Final Report of the Second Extraordinary Synod of Bishops (7 December 1985) and it was produced in collaboration with all the bishops of the Catholic Church. Moreover, the theme of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that I have convoked for October 2012 is “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”. This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith. It is not the first time that the Church has been called to celebrate a Year of Faith. My venerable Predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI announced one in 1967, to commemorate the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul on the 19th centenary of their supreme act of witness. He thought of it as a solemn moment for the whole Church to make “an authentic and sincere profession of the same faith”; moreover, he wanted this to be confirmed in a way that was “individual and collective, free and conscious, inward and outward, humble and frank”.[Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Petrum et Paulum Apostolos on the XIX centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul (22 February 1967)] He thought that in this way the whole Church could reappropriate “exact knowledge of the faith, so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it, and confess it”.[Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Petrum et Paulum Apostolos on the XIX centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul (22 February 1967)] The great upheavals of that year made even more evident the need for a celebration of this kind. It concluded with the Credo of the People of God,[Paul VI, Credo of the People of God, cf.Homily at Mass on the XIX centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul at the conclusion of the “Year of Faith” (30 June 1968)] intended to show how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past.
Did you know the last “year of faith” was 1967-68? It was before I became a Catholic. Do these “years” have a lasting impact? Or are we content to conjure anniversaries to make these connections with the past?
Note Pope Benedict’s dim view of 1968. I remember real disasters from those times–Vietnam, Biafra, not just student demonstrations in the First World.