Pope's first encyclical expected any time

Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical is expected any day now, with the title of the most authoritative document a pontiff can issue "God is Love." The Italian news agency ANSA reported some excerpts of the document late Monday, saying the estimated 40-page meditation was divided into two parts: the first on the unity of love, creation and salvation, and the second on charity as the church's work of love.

"God is love, he who is in love lives in God and God lives in him," the encyclical reads in its opening lines, ANSA said. Major Italian newspapers carried the story on their front pages Tuesday. By all indications, Benedict's first encyclical isn't so much a guide to how he intends to run the church, as some other first encyclicals have been, but rather a reflection on what he considers the central tenet of Christianity: love.

Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls has said the encyclical, which carries a Dec. 25 date, would be issued in January. The Catholic news magazine Famiglia Cristiana is expected to issue a special insert with the encyclical's text in its editions due out Jan. 25, meaning the Vatican would officially release it before then. Benedict's predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, issued 14 encyclicals during his 26-year pontificate.

The official language of all encyclicals is Latin, although Benedict is said to have written his text in his native German. Important Vatican documents are usually translated into Italian, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, reports the AP. N.U.