January 18, 2006

Pope says his first encyclical out on Jan 25

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Wednesday
his long-awaited first encyclical, which touches on charity and
the relationship between spiritual love and erotic love, will
be published on January 25.

He told pilgrims at his weekly general audience that the
encyclical, called "Deus Caritas Est" (God is Love), will be
published next Wednesday to coincide with the close of an
annual period in which the Roman Catholic Church prays for
Christian unity.

"The love of God and our love is the foundation for
Christian unity and a condition for peace in the world," he
said in unprepared remarks.

His listeners in the Vatican audience hall broke into
applause when the Pope, who was elected last April, made the
announcement, telling them "my first encyclical will finally be

The main theme of the encyclical, the highest form of papal
writing, is love and charity.

The Pope told the audience that he hoped his first
encyclical "illuminate and help our Christian life."

According to Italian media reports, the Pope warns in the
encyclical that eros risked being degraded to mere sex if it
did not have a balancing component of spiritual or divine love
founded on the Christian faith.

Without the component of spiritual love in a relationship
between a married couple, a husband or wife risks being reduced
to mere merchandise, he says, according to the reports.

In explaining his position, the Pope quotes not only from
Biblical writings, his predecessors and Church teachings, but
also from philosophers including 17th century thinker Ren©

While the Pope is believed to have written the entire first
part himself, the second part -- which is dedicated to the
theme of charity -- was already on the burner in the final
years of the pontificate of his predecessor John Paul, who died
in April.

The second part, believed to have been written for Pope
John Paul by experts, deals with the need for Christians to do
charitable works.

The encyclical was due to have been published on December 8
but Vatican sources said it was delayed by a series of
additions, deletions and changes after observations from
various Vatican departments and cardinals who had read a draft.

Pope John Paul wrote 14 encyclicals during his nearly
27-year reign, including several so-called social encyclicals
on themes such as the rights of workers and the relationship
between the superpowers during the Cold War.