Market Crisis Slows Encyclical

Benedict signs his second encyclical, Spe Salvi.
Benedict signs his second encyclical, Spe Salvi. (photo: CNS/Reuters)

The long-awaited social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI has been delayed again, this time because of the current financial crisis, according to sources in Rome.

Many had expected the document to be published in December, including Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. However, according to the Italian blog Palazzo Apostolico, quoting “trusted Vatican sources,” the encyclical has been put on hold because its reflection on the current financial turmoil is “too superficial.”

As the crisis in global money markets continues, it seems unlikely that the document will even be published in early 2009.

Last February, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, confirmed speculation that the planned encyclical will focus on social themes. The Pope’s first two encyclicals, Deus Caritas Est and Spe Salvi, addressed the theological virtues of love and hope.

“Yes, the Pope is working on a social encyclical, which will have, I believe, a significant impact on the great social and economic problems in the contemporary world,” Cardinal Bertone told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Said Cardinal Bertone, “The encyclical will focus on international social problems, with special attention to developing countries.”

— Edward Pentin