Vatican City

Pope Francis publishing encyclical with Benedict

Will take over predecessor's 'powerful' work

Pope Francis publishing encyclical with Benedict

(By Denis Greenan). Vatican City, June 13 - Pope Francis on Thursday announced his keenly waited first encyclical since becoming pontiff exactly two months ago - but said he would share the work and the credit with the pope who preceded him, Benedict XVI. The encyclical would be about new ways to spread the Catholic faith, a process called evangelization or handing on the Gospel message. "Now an encyclical written by four hands is coming out," Francis told a bishops' follow-up meeting on last October's synod about new evangelization. He said the encyclical would likely take the place of a definitive post-synod statement, expanding on it. Benedict, who resigned at the end of February and is now pope emeritus, presided over that synod. Francis, the first Jesuit and Latin American pope, was elected March 13. "Pope Benedict started it and he delivered it to me. It's a powerful document". The Argentine pontiff thanked his German predecessor for his "great work", which he said he would "carry on". A post-synod "exhortation" would make no sense because it would be overshadowed and superseded by the encyclical, Francis said. The encyclical would sum up the findings of the synod and enlarge on it, talking about "evangelization in general". "I will go along that path," he said. Francis said he had "already written something" and would be able to get more done during the summer holidays. Unlike previous popes, Francis is not going to the summer residence at Castel Gandolofo but will be staying in Vatican lodgings. He has yet to move into the traditional papal apartments and has indicated he may never do so. "I'll be less busy in August so I'll be able to go on a bit," Francis said. The synod on new evangelization ended on October 24 with a call to "the People of God," to more actively spread the Gospel message. The bishops agreed that this was "not a question of finding new strategies as if the Gospel was to be spread like a market product, but rediscovering the ways in which individuals come close to Jesus". Benedict was originally expected to complete the encyclical in the first half of 2013 but his shock resignation, announced to a stunned world on February 11 and carried out on February 28, made this impossible. It was to coincide with the Year of Faith currently underway. "(The encyclical on faith) will not be published before the end of the month, it was not in a state to be made public," Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the press a day after Benedict said he was going to become the first pope in 700 years to voluntarily abdicate. "It remains an awaited document but one that we will not have in the way we expected, perhaps we will have it in a different way," Lombardi said. The encyclical was to have been Benedict's fourth, after Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), published in 2006, Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope), in 2007, and Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), in 2009.

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