Struggle over encyclical translation

Pope Benedict XVI's first major pronouncement has been delayed by an unprecedented tussle over the final wording between key Vatican departments and the Pope's German household staff.

A London Times report republished today in The Australian says that Vatican officials said the delay in publishing the encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, on the subject of love, was because of the Pope's busy schedule over Christmas.

Other Vatican sources said, however, that the reason was a disagreement over the translation of the final 50-page draft into various languages, including English and Italian.

Vatican sources said the tensions had been exacerbated by the fact that, although the Pope had written the first part of the encyclical in German during his summer break, the second part was an adaptation of a document left behind in Polish by the late John Paul II.

It had been passed to Vatican specialists for further revision but remained unfinished at the time of John Paul's death 10 months ago. The two parts had had to be "harmonised".

Benedict, responding to growing speculation about the delay, told pilgrims at his weekly audience on Wednesday that the release of the text, originally planned for early December, had been delayed until next Wednesday.

Benedict said it would discuss the concept of love "in its various dimensions", from "the love between man and woman to the love that the Catholic Church has for others in its expression of charity".

According to Italian media reports, the Pope says in the encyclical that eros risks being degraded to mere sex if it does not have a balancing component of spiritual love.

In an unusual move, the encyclical will be the subject of a Vatican-sponsored conference next week involving Liliana Cavani, the film director, and James Wolfensohn, the former head of the World Bank.

Pope's message on love hits snag (The Australian/The Times 20/1/06)

Pope receives an ecumenical delegation from Finland (Vatican Information Service 19/1/06)
Pope's failed assassin to star in film of attack (The Scotsman 19/1/06)
Pope's personal touch (Catholic Leader 22/1/06)
Restoring unity among Christians requires prayer, pope says (Catholic News Service 18/1/06)
Pope Benedict: Christians must continually ask God for grace of unity (Catholic News Agency 19/1/06)
Preparing for new Papal Encyclical, Pontifical group to host congress on charity (Catholic News Agency 19/1/06)
Sandro Magister: Vatican Storylines: Those Who Are Resisting Benedict XVI (L'Espresso 19/1/06)
Pope shifts duties for bishops' appointments in former Soviet bloc (Catholic World News 19/1/06)
Pope: 'communion in Christ sustains ecumenical movement' (Independent Catholic News 19/1/06)
Pope's first encyclical on love and sex is lost in translation (The Times 19/1/06)
To the Ecumenical Delegation from Finland, on the celebration of the feast of Saint Henrik (January 19, 2006)
A Holy Roller (Washington Post 18/1/06)
Pope Appeals for Effort to Overcome Christian Division (Zenit 18/1/06)
Benedict XVI Says Encyclical Is Due Out Jan. 25 (Zenit 18/1/06)
Benedict XVI on His First Encyclical (Zenit 18/1/06)

20 Jan 2006