Francis' encyclical on the environment to be released June 18

This article appears in the Francis: The Environment Encyclical feature series. View the full series.

Rome — Pope Francis' highly anticipated encyclical letter on environmental issues -- already attracting global attention for its expected discourses on Catholic theology on ecology, current environmental destruction, and climate change -- is to be released June 18, the Vatican announced.

Responding to global reporting on the expected date of the encyclical’s release, the Vatican press office released a brief bulletin Thursday giving the confirmed publication day.

"To avoid confusion on the diffusion of non-confirmed information, it is communicated that the foreseen date of the Pope's Encyclical is the next June 18, Thursday," the press office wrote in their note.

The encyclical is reportedly to be given the title "Laudato Sii," a quotation from a popular prayer of St. Francis of Assisi praising God for the creation of the different creatures and aspects of the Earth.

Translated in English either as "Be Praised" or "Praised Be," the title was first reported by NCR Saturday after reports from an event with the director of the Vatican's publishing house in Naples, Italy.

Salesian Fr. Giuseppe Costa, the director of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, mentioned the title to participants at that event and said the encyclical would also have an Italian subtitle: "Sulla cura della casa comune" ("On the care of the common home").

An encyclical letter is generally considered one of the highest forms of teaching for a Catholic pope.

The phrase "Laudato Sii" reoccurs several times in St. Francis' Canticle of the Sun, a prayer that praises God first by thanking God for such creations as "Brother Fire" and "Sister Water."

Written around the year 1224, the prayer is also recognized as one of the first published works of literature in the Umbrian dialect of the then-developing Italian language as opposed to Latin.

"Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun," St. Francis wrote in the third stanza of the prayer. He then continued, expressing praise to God for "Sister Moon," "Brothers Wind and Air," "Sister Water," "Brother Fire, and "Mother Earth."

The Vatican did not confirm the title of the encyclical or give any other comments about its contents Thursday. The press office also did not say whether they might host some sort of press conference around the letter's release.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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