Pope Benedict XVI's anticipated encyclical on faith will not be released before his resignation but it may appear in another form, according to the head of the Holy See's press office.
“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,” Father Federico Lombardi said at a Feb. 12 press meeting.
The encyclical, he added, “will not be published before the end of the month, it was not in a state to be made public.”
An encyclical on faith was expected sometime in the first six months of this year, to coincide with the Year of Faith. It was to have formed a trilogy of encyclicals on the theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.
Pope Benedict released two encyclicals on charity and hope – “Deus Caritas est” in 2006 and “Spe salvi” in 2007, respectively – during his pontificate. In 2009, he also published a social encyclical in the tradition of Leo XIII's “Rerum novarum,” called “Caritas in veritate.”
Speaking to EWTN News days before Pope Benedict's decision to resign was announced, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, said the Pope was “working on a new encyclical on the faith” and that “we expect it will be published during the Year of Faith.
The “different way” in which the text might be released includes the possibility that it could be published not as an encyclical but as a personal writing of the Pope Emeritus.
Alternatively, the next Bishop of Rome might take up where Pope Benedict left off. It was reported that “Deus Caritas est” was based in part on unfinished writings of John Paul II.
In October, a high-ranking curial official told “Vatican Insider” that the text, even unfinished, “is beautiful.”
“Benedict XVI manages to express even the most complex and very deep truths using simple language which has a widespread reach that goes beyond all imagination,” the official said.
A Nov. 11 article at “Vatican Insider” further reported that the text was to have focused on the centrality of the Paschal mystery – Christ's death and resurrection – to the virtue of faith.