BY ANNA ARCO
THE GLOBAL economic crisis has reportedly delayed the Pope's forthcoming social encyclical.
The long-expected and already delayed encyclical may have been further held up by the world economic downturn, a Vatican watcher has said.
Writing on his blog, Paolo Rodari of the Italian newspaper 11 Reformista said that he had a good source confirming that the social encyclical has been delayed until 2009.
Mr Rodari reported that the Pope had temporarily shelved the encyclical because it did not address adequately the problems created by the economic slowdown. Revisions were being made to incorporate the ramifications of the meltdown in the world economy. According to the Vatican officials quoted by Mr Rodari, the document would include a new emphasis on solidarity in the changed economic climate. They said that the Pope would review the document and that "no date had been set".
The social encyclical was expected in 2007 but the Holy Father surprised the world by publishing the encyclical Spe Salvi instead, The date for the social encyclical was then set for March 2008. In the spring the Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said that the encyclical would probably not appear before the summer vacation.
Mr Rodari also suggested that an encyclical on faith might replace the social encyclical this year. He argued that it would complete a "Ratzingerian triptych" on the theological virtues begun in 2005 with the encyclical on love, Deus Caritas Est, and continued in 2007 with Spe Salvi, which is about hope.
It is thought that when it appears the social encyclical will be divided into two parts. The first section will hark back to the social encyclicals of Paul VI's Populorum Progressio and John Paul II's Centesimus Alums of 1991. The second part will look broadly at the social problems which affect the world today. Globalisation, poverty, economic inequality, conflict over resources, the environment, disarmament and peace will be looked at through the prism of Catholic social teaching.
The encyclical is the work of Vatican committees made up of experts and consultants together with the Holy Father and has already been translated into a number of languages.
In September 2007 Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said: "It will be in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Populorum Progressio so it will speak about social matters, social problems. "It will also pick up from John Paul II's Centesimus AMU, the most recent encyclical, so one can easily foresee what the content will be like."