Pope Hopes His Encyclical Isn’t Difficult to Understand

REUTERS, Feb. 1 — Pope Benedict said he realized his recent encyclical Deus Caritas Est could seem difficult to understand at first but hoped he had answered some basic questions about the Roman Catholic faith, Reuters reported.

The Holy Father made his comments in a cover letter for Italy’s weekly Famiglia Cristiana magazine, which is printing the entire encyclical for its readers. In the letter to the magazine’s readers, believed to be an unprecedented gesture by a Pope, Benedict went over some of the points of the 70-page treatise and elaborated on what he was trying to say.

It ranges in themes from erotic and spiritual love in a personal relationship, to the role of the Catholic Church’s vast network of charity organizations around the world.

“At the beginning, in fact the text might appear to be a bit difficult and theoretical,” the Holy Father wrote. “But when you move ahead with the reading it is clear that I only wanted to answer a few very concrete questions regarding Christian life.”

Vatican Explores Catholic-Jewish Talks

CANADIAN PRESS, Jan. 28 — The Vatican is exploring whether to expand its Catholic-Jewish dialogue to include Muslims, although talks are at a very early stage, a Vatican official said.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, who heads the Vatican’s office for inter-religious dialogue, made the comments Jan. 27 after the World Jewish Congress said its chairman, Rabbi Israel Singer, had discussed the initiative with Archbishop Fitzgerald and other high-ranking Vatican officials during a visit to Rome.

The main point of the talks was to intensify the Vatican’s official dialogue with Jews, but they also included “specific possibilities to expand interfaith talks to also include representatives from the Islamic faith,” the World Jewish Congress said in a statement.

The statement added that details on establishing a “trialogue” would be discussed in future meetings.

Holy Father Urges World to Unite Against Poverty

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jan. 29 — Pope Benedict called on world leaders to unite in the fight against poverty Jan. 29, and sent two doves flying into St. Peter’s Square in a symbol of peace, continuing a tradition begun by his predecessor, John Paul II, the Associated Press reported.

From his studio window overlooking the square, Benedict offered a special greeting to those who suffer from leprosy, a disfiguring condition also known as Hansen’s disease that affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Noting that Jan. 29 was World Day of Leprosy Sufferers, the Holy Father encouraged missionaries, health care personnel and volunteers working in the field against the scourge.

“Leprosy is a symptom of a more serious and vaster ill, which is poverty,” the Pope told pilgrims, tourists and a group of Italian Catholic children in the square. “For this reason, following in the wake of my predecessors, I renew the appeal to leaders of nations so that they will unite their efforts to overcome the grave imbalances that still penalize a large part of humanity.”

Pope Benedict Prays for Roof Collapse Victims

IRELAND ONLINE, Jan. 29 — Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the victims of the roof collapse in Poland and said he was joined spiritually to their families, the international website reported.

Rescuers searched for victims buried when the roof of an exhibition hall in southern Poland collapsed on a racing pigeon show Jan. 28, killing at least 66 people and injuring a further 160.

“In greeting Polish pilgrims, I am thinking about the tragic accident that happened yesterday evening in Katowice, in which many people lost their lives,” Benedict said, speaking in Polish as he appeared at his studio window to faithful in St. Peter’s Square.

“I entrust to God’s mercy all those who perished, I unite myself spiritually to their families and to those who in this event were injured,” the Holy Father said. “To all, I give my warm blessing.”