Papal letters to the Universal Church or, in many cases, especially before Vatican II, to the Bishops in communion with the Holy See. Worthy of special attention besides Rerum Novarum (see previous post) are Quadragesimo Anno, Mater et Magistra, Pacem in Terris, Populorum Progressio, Laborum Exercens, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Centesimus Annus, Caritas in Veritate, Fides et Ratio, and Spe Salvi. As of this post, the Vatican has online the encyclicals of Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis. ISBN recommendation: 0-87650-259-1
A joint Catholic-Orthodox declaration, proclaimed 7 December 1965, committing the excommunications, related to Papal embassy to Constantinople in 1054, to oblivion. The declaration marks a first step toward reconciliation between the Catholic and Orthodox communions. Image links to Vatican translation.
Considered by the Holy See an ecumenical council, Vatican II (A.D. 1962-65), was summoned by Pope John XXIII and begins a new phase in the development of the Church. The Council sought to initiate the adaptation of the Church to the modern world – presenting Christ as the relevant Truth even in the present age. Image above links to the Vatican translations of the Council decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2
Pope Leo XIII, seeking to address “the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class”, issued on 15 May 1891 Rerum Novarum, an encyclical on the rights and duties of capital and labor. It is considered a seminal classic of Catholic social teaching. Image links to Vatican translation.
Summoned by Pope Pius IX, Vatican I (A.D. 1869-70) condemned, as erroneous, philosophical naturalism, pantheism, materialism, and atheism. It also affirmed each successor to the chair of the St. Peter obtains the primacy of Peter: as Vicar of Christ and sovereign head of the Church militant. Image above links to Tanner translation of the decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2
Apostolic Constitution, promulgated December 8, 1854, establishing the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.” Image links to English translation.
Events in Western Christendom, beginning on 31 October 1517, led to widespread revolt against and abandonment of the Roman Catholic Church. Finally in 1545, Pope Paul III was able to convoke a council in Trent (A.D. 1545-63) in order to form a definitive response to the assertions of the Protestants and to effect a general reform of the Church. The Council of Trent is regarded as ecumenical by the Holy See and the initiation of the Counter-Reformation. Image above links to Buckley translation of the Council’s canons and decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2
Summoned by Pope Julius II in opposition to a quasi-council assembled in Pisa under the support and protection of King Louis XII of France and the Emperor Maximilian, the general council, Lateran V (A.D. 1512-17), succeeded in quashing the Pisan assembly and attaining the revocation and annulment of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. Image above links to Tanner translation of the decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2