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originally, a pastoral letter sent out by a bishop, now a solemn papal letter, meant to inform the whole church on some particular matter of importance. Benedict XIV circulated the first known encyclical in 1740. Unlike those in the papal bullbull
[Lat. bulla=leaden seal], papal letter. As the diplomatic organization of the papal chancery progressed in the Middle Ages, the papal bull came to be more solemn than the papal brief or encyclical.
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, doctrinal statements in an encyclical are not necessarily regarded as infallible; the faithful, however, are bound to give assent. Encyclicals became more numerous after the 18th cent. Leo XIII issued a whole series of encyclicals reorienting Roman Catholic life in the modern world; among these are Aeterni Patris, 1879, on Thomistic philosophy, and Rerum novarum, 1891, concerning the social order. Other noteworthy encyclicals include Pascendi, 1907, by Pius X, on modernismmodernism,
in religion, a general movement in the late 19th and 20th cent. that tried to reconcile historical Christianity with the findings of modern science and philosophy.
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; Quadragesimo anno [in the 40th year, i.e., since Rerum novarum], 1931, by Pius XI, dealing further with social questions; and two by Pius XI not written in Latin—Non abbiamo bisogno, 1931, against Italian Fascism, and Mit brennender Sorge, 1937, against the National Socialist regime in Germany. Among the numerous encyclicals of Pius XII are Mystici corporis Christi, 1943, on the nature of the church, and Sacra virgintas, 1954, on evangelical chastity. The encyclical Mater et Magistra, 1961, by John XXIII, makes current the church's teachings on social matters. Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, 1968, which reaffirms the church's traditional prohibition of contraception, caused considerable controversy. John Paul II's many encyclicals include Laborem Exercens, 1981, on the value of human labor; Evangelium Vitae, 1995, which restated the church's teachings on abortion, birth control, and euthanasia and condemned capital punishment; and Fides et Ratio, 1998, which condemns both atheism and faith unsupported by reason and affirms a place for reason and philosophy in religion. All papal edicts are normally known by their first word or words.


See A. J. Fremantle, The Papal Encyclicals in Their Historical Context (1963).



a letter sent by the pope to all Catholics or to the Catholics of one country concerning questions of dogma and sociopolitical matters. According to the canons of the Catholic Church, an encyclical is not subject to discussion, and its instructions must be implemented. Encyclicals are usually written in Latin and take their title from the first words of the text; for example, Mater et magistra (1961) was an encyclical of John XXIII. A modern encyclical with widespread impact was Rerum novarum (1891), in which the Catholic Church’s social program was formulated.

In the early Christian church, an encyclical was a letter sent by a bishop on questions of faith. In the Anglican Church the term “encyclical” is applied to the epistles of the Lambeth Conferences (the highest body of the Anglican Communion).


a letter sent by the pope to all Roman Catholic bishops throughout the world
References in periodicals archive ?
Pope Benedict XVI made a significant contribution to the dialogue between CST and managerial disciplines with his encyclical letter CV.
48) See generally Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae (Jan.
The word "dialogue" appears in the encyclical letter many times, especially in Chapter V where Pope Francis proposes the approaches and actions needed to take for "outlining the major paths of dialogue which can help us escape the spiral of self-destruction which currently engulfs us" (Section 163).
Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Centesimus Annus [paragraph] 3 (May 1, 1991) [hereinafter Centesimus Annus], reprinted in CATHOLIC SOCIAL THOUGHT, supra note 5, at 439, 440, available at http://www.
The Catholic Church has proposed an alternative solution to migration issues, which addresses the immigrant as a subject, through its social teaching, as expressed in encyclical letters, (5) addresses, and other public statements of church leaders.
Pius XIII, elected in March, did not take up the draft document, although some of its argument is to be found in his encyclical letter Summi pontificatus (1939), and both LaFarge and Gundlach used material from the draft in subsequent writings.
Francis, encyclical letter Laudato Si' (May 24, 2014), 107, http://w2.
Members of a three-day event co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the international Catholic peace organization Pax Christi also called on Pope Francis to consider writing an encyclical letter, or some other "major teaching document," reorienting the church's teachings on violence.
In a speech on the White House South Lawn, the Argentine pontiff lauded President Barack Obama's efforts to reduce air pollution, months after Francis made the environment one of his top issues by issuing a landmark encyclical letter to the church.
Pope John Paul II writes in his encyclical letter Laborem Exercens: "In spite of the limitations and sufferings affecting their bodies and faculties, they point up more clearly the dignity and greatness of man" (n 22).
1) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio (RM), http://www.
But the most authoritative statements on capital punishment are to be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) and in the papal encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae (1995).