Papal Encyclicals

Pope Benedict XVI signing the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate"

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 IIBenedict XVI, and Francis. ISBN recommendation: 0-87650-259-1

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Dominus Iesus

Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega. Sant'Alfonso di Liguori, Rome.

Jesus proclaims: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asserts the truth of Christ’s statement in this conservative declaration, published 16 June 2000, “on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church”. Image links to Vatican translation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church


Promulgated by Pope John Paul II 15 August 1997, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a “compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals”. It provides an updated and systematic presention of “the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition in the Church and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers, Doctors and saints of the Church”. Image links to Vatican translation. ISBN recommendation: 0385508190

Pope John Paul II: Message to the Participants in the Plenary of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (October 22, 1996)

Hubble photo of distant galaxy

Pope John Paul II’s address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ Plenary Session on
‘The Origins and Early Evolution of Life’: “How do the conclusions reached by the various scientific disciplines coincide with those contained in the message of Revelation? And if, at first sight, there are apparent contradictions, in what direction do we look for their solution? We know, in fact, that truth cannot contradict truth…” Image links to Pontifical Academy of Sciences translation.  See also Appendix I, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: In the Beginning…, for a contemporary meditation on the Genesis creation accounts.