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Pope confirms he is completing encyclical on faith begun by Benedict XVI

Catholic World News - June 13, 2013

Pope Francis has confirmed that he is completing an encyclical that was begun by Pope Benedict XVI, on the subject of faith.

Before announcing his plans to resign, Pope Benedict had been drafting an encyclical on faith, to complete a series he had begun with earlier encyclicals on the theological virtues of love and hope. He did not complete the text before stepping down from the papacy, and informed sources had reported recently that the Pope-emeritus had handed the draft over to his successor.

“It’s a strong document,” the Pope said in a June 13 address to members of the ordinary council of the Synod of Bishops. He referred to the forthcoming encyclical as “written with four hands, so to speak”—referring to his hands and those of his predecessor. However, the Pontiff said Benedict XVI was responsible for most of the text, and said he would credit the previous Pope in the final text.

Pope Francis said that the new encyclical would be released soon. Speaking off the cuff, Pope Francis told the members of the Synod council that he had decided to delay an apostolic exhortation summarizing the work of the last Synod of Bishops, which was devoted to the New Evangelization. He said that he did not want that document to be overshadowed by the new encyclical.

Nevertheless, the Pope said that he would be working on the apostolic exhortation this summer, for release in the fall as the Year of Faith comes to an end. He observed that the theme of the Year of Faith and that of the New Evangelization are closely matched.

“I would like to encourage the entire ecclesial community to be evangelizing,” the Pope said. He added that while plans and techniques for evangelization are important, they are less important than the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the fundamental orientation toward spreading the Gospel message.

In his remarks the Pope paid tribute to the Synod of Bishops, saying that the revival of the Synod after Vatican II has been a service to the Church, especially as “an expression of collegiality.”

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