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  • John Thavis

New pope is planning encyclical, first foreign trip

There’s some interesting news (and some non-news) out of the Vatican today.

First, it looks like Pope Francis will be finishing ex-Pope Benedict’s encyclical on faith. The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said he would not exclude the possibility that Francis’ first encyclical would be issued later this year. The spokesman noted that before his resignation, Pope Benedict had already done initial work on an encyclical to mark the “Year of Faith.”

Father Lombardi also said Pope Francis would continue to reside in the Vatican guest house, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, instead of moving into the more formal (and much larger) papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace. The pope likes his room at the guesthouse, and apparently enjoys the relative freedom of movement it offers him.

“At the moment, he doesn’t seem to want to change his lodging, although this is not a definitive decision,” Lombardi said.

Pope Benedict, meanwhile, is still scheduled to move into a monastic building located behind the Vatican Gardens, probably sometime in early May.

It also looks like Brazil will be the only foreign country visited by Pope Francis this year, the spokesman said. He’ll travel to Rio de Janeiro in July for World Youth Day. Lombardi’s remarks appeared to exclude the possibility that the Argentine-born pontiff would add a stop in his homeland.

Pope Francis is expected to visit Assisi sometime during the year, as well.

Meanwhile, an official said there was no substance to recent news reports that the Vatican was preparing a document on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. The denial came from Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

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