The Pope formally announced today that he will issue an encyclical on the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. I’m looking forward to this. Having read what he has written on the Eucharist before, this one should be good. It will be followed up by a Note from the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and Divine Worship on rthe Eucharist, especially curbing some of the abuses.
It’s been a while since we’ve had an encyclical from the Pope. The last one was Fides et Ratio in 1998. For those who criticize the Pope for not focusing on a particular cause or problem and writing encyclicals instead, I would reply in the same way I do to people who criticize President Bush for spending too much time on foreign policy and ignoring domestic policy, especially the economy, or that he spends too much time on Iraq and ignores North Korea: the Pope is capable of multi-tasking and of dealing with many issues at once. Many issues and problems require simultaneous attention and that’s what they get. You can’t always drop everything else to deal with an urgent situation. His vocation is partly to be a teacher of the faith and writing encyclicals on the Eucharist is part of that.