Pope Francis speaks with attendees after holding a limited public audience at the San Damaso courtyard in the Vatican on Sept. 2. (Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)
During a late summer press conference on the upcoming celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Rule of Saint Francis, an Italian bishop quite casually mentioned in passing that Pope Francis will "soon be issuing an encyclical on human fraternity."
The bishop was Domenico Pompili. He heads the Diocese of Rieti, a suffragan see of Rome. He gave no further clues or information about the alleged new encyclical when he made that brief comment on Aug. 26.
But unless he had a lapsus and was referring to some other type of papal document, it's likely that an encyclical dealing with human fraternity — even if that is not the name or principal theme — is imminent.