Pope Francis recently confirmed he will finish the encyclical on faith that was begun by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. In a meeting with the members of the ordinary council of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis mentioned that the encyclical would be “written with four hands,” saying,
“The encyclical has to come out and it’s an encyclical written with four hands, so to speak, because Pope Benedict began writing it and he gave it to me. … It’s a strong document. I will say in it that I received it and most of the work was done by him and I completed it.”
This is not the first time that a pope will complete an encyclical begun by his predecessor. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s first encyclical Deus Caritas Est included content written during the final months of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate. However, since it is highly unusual for a pope to abdicate the papacy, there were rumors that Pope Benedict would complete the encyclical on faith while Pope Francis’ first encyclical would focus on poverty. The Vatican denied these rumors in late May.
Dominican Father Paul Murray, professor of literature of the mystical tradition at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, said of the upcoming encyclical,
“The genius of Benedict was just marvelous, but the genius of Francis is that he just talks over all our professional Christians and Catholics and speaks to the world. … He speaks in a very direct, humble, Gospel way, and I hope the encyclical will have some of that, as well as all the great theological profundity of Benedict.”