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The Papal Encyclicals, 1740-1981
edited by Claudia Carlen, IHM

"This edition will remain for decades to come
a standard reference that has put all students of the papacy
in the editor's debt."
-- John Tracy Ellis, Catholic Historical Review

This five-volume set includes 280 encyclicals, beginning with Benedict XIV (1740-1758), up to and including Laborem Exercens, which was released by Pope John Paul II on September 14, 1981.

What Are Papal Encyclicals?

Litterae encyclicae (encyclical letters) are letters that the pope, by his ordinary teaching authority, directs to the entire Christian world for the guidance of spiritual life. An encyclical was originally a circular letter passed on from one to another of the group addressed. Today, the term refers almost exclusively to certain papal documents that differ in form from bulls or briefs and treat matters affecting the Church at large. When papal letters are exhortations on particular needs or are addressed to the archbishops and bishops of particular countries or to designated groups of the hierarchy, they are called epistulae encyclicae (encyclical epistles). The pope normally does not exercise his infallible teaching office through an encyclical, but Catholics are expected to accept its doctrinal content as an expression of the pope's ordinary teaching authority.

About the Editor

Sister Claudia Carlen is the preeminent authority on papal documents. She edited The Papal Pronouncements, a Guide: 1740-1978 and has authored/edited numerous other works on papal pronouncements including the Guide to the Documents of Pius XII. In recent years, she has received four honorary doctorates that specifically recognize her work in this area.

"One of the most prodigious ventures in Catholic publishing
and surely one of the most historically important.
It would be difficult to imagine that any Catholic library
at educational institutions, chanceries, or parishes
could be without it."
-- The Catholic Standard

"Catholics and non-Catholics alike will be grateful ...
for ... the entire corpus of ... encyclicals ...
even professional scholars will find this monumental collection
of papal documents absolutely indispensable...."
-- Msgr. George G. Higgins, National Catholic News Service

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