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 Papal Pronouncements, a Guide: 1740-1978
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Papal Pronouncements, a Guide: 1740-1978
(Benedict XIV - John Paul I)

edited by Claudia Carlen, IHM

A need has long existed for a thorough,
discriminating guide to papal pronouncements --
a catalog of encyclicals, apostolic constitutions,
addresses, and other major papal documents
arranged in a convenient form so that the issues
addressed by the Catholic church, and the
corresponding primary documents,
can be identified, located, and studied.
This publication fulfills that need.


Papal Pronouncements, a Guide: 1740-1978 covers approximately 5,200 papal documents. They begin with Benedict XIV and conclude with John Paul I who, in his 33 days in office (26 August to 28 September 1978), issued 30 significant documents.

Document Types Included

  • encyclical letters
  • encyclical epistles
  • apostolic constitutions
  • apostolic letters
  • bulls
  • motu proprios
  • personal speeches
  • radio and television addresses
  • exhortations
  • simple and autograph letters
  • and other documents


The following information is given for each pronouncement:

  • date
  • original title (designated by the first few words of the original document)
  • general subject, in English
  • information on the circumstance of writing and/or audience addressed (e.g., delegates to the 3rd International Press Congress)
  • type of document (e.g., encyclical letter, radio address)
  • word count
  • concise summary of issues and subjects addressed
  • sources containing the full text of the pronouncement, including primary sources of the original language and English translations

Example from Section 14: Pius XII

1957 Feb 24

Le IXe Congres National
(To the 9th National Congress of the Italian Society of Anesthesiology: moral and religious problems with anesthetics) address: 7,200w

Submits answers to questions proposed on anesthetics: 1) no moral obligation to refuse anesthetic--a) combats forces that produce evil effects or prevent greater good; b) physician's object is to subdue pain; c) patient may legitimately avoid pain; 2) no moral or spiritual liability in use of narcotics when objective is not diminution of consciousness but preservation of psychic and organic equilibrium; 3) use of narcotics with dying not illicit--a) if patient is spiritually prepared, physical conditions justify it, drug is properly administered, patient consents; b) if pain is intolerable and shortening of life is unavoidable result of subduing pain.

Sources: AAS, 49 (1957), 129-47; Discorsi, 18:777-99. English:Cath. Doc., no. 23 (May 1957), 27-42; Cath. Mind, 55 May-Jun 1957), 260-78.

End of Example


The documents are arranged in their chronological order of issuance. The chronological arrangement facilitates a study of the issues that were addressed by the various popes, the methods chosen to deliver and disseminate statements on those issues, and the treatments of those issues over time.


An exhaustive subject index indicates all concepts and issues covered by the pronouncements, making it possible to identify what individual popes have said, for example, on specific topics such as the Assumption of Mary, education, or atomic research.

A title index provides access to specific documents for which title information is known.

About the Editor

Sister Claudia Carlen is the preeminent authority on papal documents. She edited The Papal Encyclicals, 1740-1981 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.

"The scholar, the student, the researcher, know the joy at finding and using a reference work that fulfills its purpose and meets their needs. That is the joy I have experienced in reading the manuscript of Papal Pronouncements. But not joy alone, amazement and admiration as well in the face of a virtuoso work of a recognized expert."
-- Thomas C. O'Brien, Editor Documents on Liturgy

Ordering Information:

  • Papal Pronouncements, a Guide 1740-1978
  • (Benedict XIV - John Paul I)
  • 2-volume set, printed on acid-free, long-life paper with corresponding quality cloth bindings
  • ISBN 0-87650-266-4 (set)
  • 8 1/2 x 11, $195.00
  • Postage and handling: $8.00 domestic; foreign is extra, and based on mode of transport.
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