Friday, January 13, 2006


Word 'round the campfire is that, contrary to earlier reports which announced a later debut, Deus Caritas Est, the first encyclical letter of Benedict XVI, will be released on Friday, 20 January, a week from today. Prior speculation had said that the first appearance of the document would come in an enhanced edition of the Pauline magazine Famiglia Cristiana on the 25th, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and therefore the major feast of the Pauline communities.

On the morning of the 20th, according to reports in the Italian press, the traditional presentation press conference will be held in the Sala Stampa of the Holy See. Archbishops Paul Josef Cordes, the German president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (and, so it's said, the Pope's chief collaborator for this encyclical) and the American William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will serve as presenters. The document will likely be posted at the same time on the Vatican website in its various translations -- the Internet Office has already prepared the proper link and webpage for it.

As Encyclicals go, it is important to remember that the date of public release is of less importance than the date on which it was "given," i.e. the date the Pope places on the document and signs it.

For months, the plan was to have the letter signed on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. After initial reviews were said to have urged significant changes, the text was revised and, in mid-December, it was announced that it would bear the date of December 25, the Nativity of the Lord.