Pope signs new encyclical, but is title inclusive enough?

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Pope Francis signs his latest encyclical in Assisi

ASSISI, Italy (Reuters) - Pope Francis travelled outside Rome on Saturday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic broke out to sign his latest encyclical in the crypt where St. Francis of Assisi is buried.

The encyclical, titled "Fratelli Tutti" (Brothers All), will be released on Sunday. It covers solidarity among people in the post-pandemic world.

The title has prompted criticism, particularly in the English-speaking world, where it was seen as not being inclusive.

In Italian, fratelli means brothers but it is also used to mean brothers and sisters, as is the masculine plural in other romance languages.

The Vatican said the title was taken from the first two words of guidelines, known as "Admonitions", written by St Francis to his followers in the 13th century and thus could not be changed.

The pope always uses "brothers and sisters" to open his weekly general audiences on Wednesdays and his Sunday blessing.

Encyclicals are the most authoritative form of papal writing but they are not infallible.

Because it deals with social issues, "Fratelli Tutti" is what is known as a social encyclical, as opposed to those about Church doctrine.

When he was elected in 2013, the Argentine pope took his papal name after the saint to show his closeness to the poor. St. Francis is known as "The Little Poor One" because he renounced his wealthy family to serve the needy.

The pope signed the encyclical after saying Mass in the crypt where the saint in buried in the basilica of the hill town in Umbria.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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