Thursday, June 25, 2009

Letter from Rome, #6: Where Is the Ecclesia Dei Document?

insidethevatican - Jun 25, 2009

Another conversation with a Vatican official... Plus, still more on the upcoming encyclical... And, true joy...

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

Today was warmer than yesterday, but it is still quite cool compared to the usual June heat. Perhaps it will stay cool through the weekend, when so many bishops will come to Rome to receive the "pallium" from the Pope on Monday, June 29... Let's hope so.


A very important document was supposed to come out last Friday, June 19.

It didn't come out Friday. Or Saturday. Or Sunday, or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or today.

And behind this delay, there is a story.


What document am I talking about?

Not the long-awaited social encyclical! That is still coming, trundling along, due to be signed June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. This morning, in the press office, I was talking to one of my colleagues, who said she thinks they've already started printing the encyclical.

"Why do you think that?" I asked.

"Well," she said, "yesterday I was in the Vatican to do a bit of shopping at the supermarket. As I came walking out with my bags, I walked by the tipografia (the building of the Vatican printing press). I noticed the machines were humming more than usual, as if there was some big project on the presses.

"I was able to just catch a glimpse of some piles of printed paper on pallets. So I really think some of the editions of the encyclical are finally being printed. I think it is coming.

"But perhaps not the Chinese and Latin editions. I've heard they are having problems finalizing the translations of the Latin and Chinese editions. There aren't as many Latinists of the highest quality as there used to be, nor too many qualified Chinese translators..."

(Her words recalled to my mind the memory of my Latin teacher, Father Reginald Foster, who taught me Latin in the 1980s at the Gregorian, and who worked for 30 years as a papal Latinist, writing the official Latin of papal documents. He has gone back to America — he is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin — and the Eternal City now lacks one of its most colorful characters, and perhaps the greatest teacher I have ever known.)

So the encyclical, which evidently has passed through seven or eight distinct drafts, and was blocked for six months at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith while it was being studied carefully, and which will be the Pope's considered response to the world economic crisis (and so of considerable interest even outside the Church), will be signed June 29, and available to all of us a day or two, or three, after that...


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