Pope Francis’ summer break includes time for writing

VATICAN CITY — Rome and the Vatican are traditionally left to the tourists in August, and it is difficult to find key Vatican officials at their desks this week.

(CNS/Paul Haring)

(CNS/Paul Haring)

But Pope Francis continues to hold meetings and to work, although most of those meetings are considered private. Yesterday’s meeting with a group of Japanese junior high school students was an exception.

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, the vice director of the Vatican press office, told the handful of journalists working in the press office today that Pope Francis was using these August days to work on two documents — an encyclical on poverty and an exhortation on evangelization.

Catholic News Service has previously written about plans for both documents:

— The encyclical, “Beati pauperes” (“Blessed are the Poor”), reportedly will deal with the topic of poverty, not as an economic or political topic, but from a Gospel point of view.

— The exhortation on evangelization should be published before the end of the year, perhaps in conjunction with the Nov. 24 end of the Year of Faith. Pope Francis had said in June that he’d already begun writing it and hoped to finish it in August. It would take the place of a traditional post-synodal apostolic exhortation by reflecting both on the theme of the 2012 world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization and on sharing the Gospel in general.

Another event we’d reported on earlier is set to begin next week in Castel Gandolfo.

The “Ratzinger Schulerkreis” (Ratzinger Student Circle), a group of retired Pope Benedict’s former students, will meet Aug. 29-Sept. 2. For the first time, the retired pope is not scheduled to join his former students, although a visit by them to the Vatican monastery where Pope Benedict lives has not been ruled out.

Details on the group and the theme they’ll discuss this year are here.