Pope's first encyclical expected in two weeks

The first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI will be published on Wednesday 25 January, reports the Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana.

Catholic World News says the Vatican has not yet announced a date for the appearance of the encyclical, and several previous reports - such as one story predicting that the Pope's letter would be released on 6 January - have already proven inaccurate. But it says Famiglia Cristiana lends extra weight to its report by promising readers that the full text of the encyclical will be printed in the magazine on 25 January.

The encyclical, entitled Deus Caritas Est ("God Is Love"), was officially signed by Pope Benedict on Christmas Day. Two days earlier the director of the Vatican press office, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, had told reporters that the document would be released in January. He did not specify a date, except to say that it would be after the feast of the Epiphany, which was observed in Italy on 6 January.

If Pope Benedict XVI follows the pattern set by Pope John Paul II, the publication of the encyclical will be accompanied by a news conference at the Vatican, which would be announced several days in advance. Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, the president of Cor Unum, would be a likely candidate to help introduce the encyclical, perhaps along with the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop William Levada.

Deus Caritas Est is reportedly a document of about 40 pages. By tradition a papal encyclical takes its title from the first words of the text; thus it appears that the Pope begins with a quote from the Epistle of St. John (4:8). The document is said to be a deeply theological meditation on the centrality of Christ, divine love and human love; but the text also speaks at length about the concrete expression of love in charitable action.

Pope's 1st encyclical due January 25? (Catholic World News 11/1/06)

Pope's first encyclical expected in January (CathNews 23/1/05)

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12 Jan 2006