Sunday, December 25, 2005

Deus, Caritas Est

OK, on this Christmas Night, the gifts having been opened and dinner enjoyed here at Loggia House, it's time for the whole press corps to eat crow....

As usual, I will be first.

Contrary to reports first broken here and eventually propagated via Reuters, AP, John Allen, et al., Benedict XVI's first encyclial -- which will, as broken here (always first, right?) on 19 November, be called Deus Caritas Est (in Italian, Dio E' Amore; in English, God is Love) -- will not bear the date of 8 December, but of today, 25 December, the Nativity of the Lord. Joaquin Navarro-Valls has announced this.

Publication is slated for mid-January even though, as reported here previously, the 46-page document's translation from the Latin into the various other languages was completed earlier this month.

In other Ratzingerian writing news, to the trained ear, the General Intercessions of last night's Midnight Mass in St. Peter's bore the distinctive stamp of the Pope's authorship.

While following the standard pattern of the intercessions (For the Church, Civil Authorities, Those in Need, Other Particular Concerns, For the Sick, For the Deceased), each was preceded by a verse of Scripture and each contained a short but poignant medidation.

The biggest giveaway that B16 wrote them himself: The first intercession, by tradition a prayer for the Catholic church and its leaders and members, began "For the churches of East and West..." -- a further reinforcement of this pontificate's priority on relations with the Orthodox. To include the East in an intercession understood to have as its scope Rome and those in commuion with it, especially in the hearing and sight of the entire world, is not something that would've been done without the explicit green-light of the Pontiff.

Another prayer focused on "the leaders of nations and international organizations" -- the latter group being another curious addition, one which most neocons would find repulsive; a gentleman from Senegal prayed for "the sons and daughters of Abraham," a reference to Jews, Christians and Muslims together, that they may work together for common causes of justice and peace; another for those following on radio and television. The most touching was probably the prayer for children, for their safety and that they may be able to live in peace.

Between that and the homily, it was an exquisite evening for wonderfully written texts. Letters of appreciation can be sent to Palazzo Apostolico, 00120.

Reuters/Max Rossi