Pope Francis has accomplished another extraordinary first. Here's an account:
Like all newspapers, La Repubblica receives many letters from its readers. These range from ordinary citizens complaining about litter on the streets to the great and good commenting on the pressing issues of the day.
But on Tuesday the paper received an unprecedented letter, signed simply, “yours fraternally, Francesco.” I wish I had been in the newsroom when it arrived.
The back story is that the founder of La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari, who epitomizes Italian laicità and calls himself an atheist with a fascination for Jesus of Nazareth, wrote two columns during July and August, with explicit questions posed to Pope Francis.
The columns were occasioned by the encyclical Lumen Fidei, issued under Francis' name, but clearly the work of "four hands."
Now the Pope has responded with a long letter featured on the first page of today's edition of the newspaper. Here is brief notice in English (from which the paragraphs I quoted above are taken). I will be alert for English translations of the letter when they appear. In the meantime, here is the summary from Vatican Radio.
Those who care to read the letter in Italian may find it here.
Claire has thoughtfully provided the link to the Zenit translation in her comment below. Here is the hinge paragraph:
For me, faith is born from the encounter with Jesus. A personal encounter, which has touched my heart and given direction and new meaning to my existence. But at the same time an encounter that was made possible by the community of faith in which I have lived and thanks to which I found access to the intelligence of Sacred Scripture, to new life that, as gushing water, flows from Jesus through the Sacraments, to fraternity with everyone and at the service of the poor, true image of the Lord. Believe me, without the Church I would not have been able to encounter Christ, also in the awareness that the immense gift that faith is is kept in the fragile earthen vessels of our humanity.
The entire letter is here.