ROME — Pope Francis’ highly anticipated encyclical letter on the environment will be titled “Laudato Si, On the Care of Our Common Home,” the Vatican announced Wednesday, and will be presented in tandem with a news conference on June 18.
At the same time, the Vatican also announced plans for a reorganization of its media operations, merging several outlets such as Vatican Radio and the L’Osservatore Romano newspaper that previously functioned as largely independent entities.
Translated in English as “Be Praised” or “Praised Be,” the title is drawn from the poem “Canticle of the Sun,” also known as the “Canticle of the Creatures,” written in 1228 by St. Francis of Assisi, the namesake of the pope. It’s regarded as one of Catholicism’s most iconic expressions of reverence for the natural world.
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will present the encyclical in a June 18 news conference, along with a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Francis has long looked to Patriarch Bartholomew I, considered “first among equals” in terms of Orthodox leaders, as a partner on many fronts including ecological protection.
German Prof. John Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, also will be part of the June 18 panel. Schellnhuber was among the scientists who took part in a summit co-sponsored by the Vatican and the UN.
As a footnote, initial reports said the encyclical would be called “Laudato Sii,” with two i’s. That’s inaccurate since the Vatican decided to use the original form of the poem, which was written in the Umbrian dialect.
The Argentinian pontiff has been outspoken about “the care of creation” from the beginning of his pontificate.
A few days after his election in March 2013, he told reporters that he had decided to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi. The Italian saint, he said, “is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and safeguards creation” adding that “at this time we don’t have a very good relationship with creation, do we?”
A Vatican spokesman also said this Wednesday that bishops from around the world are receiving information on the document, formally called an “encyclical,” so they can be prepared to explain and comment on it.
Rev. Federico Lombardi added that it was Francis who requested the informative e-mails to be sent out because he wanted to guarantee that the publication of the encyclical is be lived as “an important event in the life of the universal church.”
The encyclical will be available for download at the Vatican’s website in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, and French.
During a press conference held in Rome, Lombardi also announced that the group of advisory cardinals is currently analyzing a proposal for the reform of the Vatican media operations.
To be carried out over the next four years, the reform would include the merger of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Vatican’s Radio, its TV network, the semi-official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, and other smaller operations.
According to the spokesman, the cardinals reviewed the proposal positively.
With regard to financial and economic reform, Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and a member of the G9, presented plans for three working groups: one for the analysis of income and investments; one for human resources management; and a third for the study of existing IT systems, including their compatibility and efficiency.
The G9 will meet again on Sept. 14-16, prior to Francis’ visit to Cuba and the United States scheduled for Sept. 19-27.