.- During his general audience held today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict announced that his long waited, first Encyclical, on the theme of love, will be released on January 25th. The title of the document is "Deus Caritas Est," which means, “God is love,” a theme taken from the first letter of St. John. It will be made public during an official presentation in the Holy See Press Office at noon.
The Pope explained the document’s contents saying that "love today often appears as something far removed from Church teaching." Yet "It is a single movement that has various dimensions."
"Charity," he continued, "is the love that renounces itself in favor of others. 'Eros' becomes 'agape' if one seeks the good of others; it becomes 'caritas' if it opens to one's own family and to the entire human family."
The Holy Father added that this first Encyclical "seeks to show that the very personal act of love must be expressed within the Church also as an organizational act. If it is true that the Church is an expression of God, it must be true that love becomes an ecclesial act."
He called it “a sign of Providence that the Encyclical will be published on January 25, the final day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, when I will go to the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, to pray together with our Protestant and Orthodox brethren."
The Pope concluded his brief address--given before some 8,000 pilgrims--by expressing his hope that the new document will "illuminate our Christian life."