According to an Italian bishop, Pope Francis intends to issue an encyclical on poverty and social justice, titled "Beati Pauperes" ("Blessed Are the Poor.")
The theme is certainly on the new pope's mind. From today's papal talk to the Pontifical Council for Migrants:
"In a world where there is so much talk about rights, it seems that the only thing that has rights is money. Dear brothers and sisters, we live in a world where money commands. We live in a world, in a culture, where money worship reigns."
Bishop Luigi Martella of Molfetta wrote on his website about his recent meeting with Pope Francis, in which the pope spoke about concluding an encyclical begun by his predecessor and issuing one of his own:
"At the end, he wanted to share a secret, almost a revelation: Benedict XVI is finishing writing the encyclical on faith that will be signed by Pope Francis. Afterward, the pope himself intends to prepare his first encyclical, on the theme of the poor: Beati pauperes! Poverty, the pope explained, not understood in an ideological or political sense, but in an evangelical sense."
Speaking to diplomats in March, Pope Francis said that fighting poverty, "both material and spiritual," was a key challenge for the international community.
Bishop Martella said Pope Francis also told him that while he was concerned about Pope Benedict's physical health when the two men met at Castel Gandolfo in March, "today he is doing much better."
UPDATE: The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, later said it was not true that Pope Benedict is still working on his unfinished encyclical on faith -- apparently the spokesman did not want to leave the impression of a tag-team document in the works, or of an ex-pope still working as a pope. It looks like Francis will simply complete what Benedict started.