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Catholic Definitions Abbess Abbey Abbot Accident Absolute Actual Grace Adoration Amen Angel Anointing Apologetics Apostasy Apostolic Apostolic Constitution Apostolic Exhortation Apostolic Letter Art Assent Authority Avarice Baptism Benign Bible Bishop Brotherly Love Bull Calumny Canon Law Capital Sins Capital Virtues Cardinal Virtues Catechesis Catholic Charity Chastity Chrism Christ’s Commands Church Cloister Codex Communio Compassion Completion Story Concupiscence Confession Confirmation Consecration Conscience Conservatism Continence Convent Corporal Works of Mercy Counsel Custody of the Senses Deacon Deaconess Death Detraction Dicastery Diligence Divine Office Doctrine Dogma Double Effect Dulia Economy of Salvation Ecumenical Ecumenical Council Encyclical Epistle Encyclica Letter Envy Eternity Eucharist Evangelization Ex Cathedra Ex Opere Operantis Ex Opere Operato Faith Fear Fideism Form Fortitude Four Last Things Friar Friday Abstinence Fruits of the Holy Spirit Gifts of the Holy Spirit Gluttony Good Grace Heaven Hell Holy Heresy Holy Eucharist Holy Orders Hope Humility Hyperdulia Hypostatic Union Immortal Impassible Indulgence Infallible Intellectual Virtues Intrinsic Joy Judgment Justice Justification Knowledge Latria Letter Liberality Limbo Liturgy Longanimity Lust Magisterium Man Marriage Matrimony Matter Meek Mercy Message Mild Miracle Modernism Modesty Monastery Monk Mortal Sin Motu Proprio Nun Obedience One Orders Original Sin Pallium Parable Pasch Patience Pauline Privilege Peace Penance Piety Pope Prayer Precept Preternatural Pride Priest Prophet Prudence Purgatory Purity Rationalism Religious Reparation Revelation Rule Sacrament Sacramental Presence Sacred Tradition Sacrifice Saint Sanctifying Grace Science Scrupulosity Sin Sister Sloth Soul Spirit Spiritual Direction Spiritual Works of Mercy Substance Supernatural Synoptic Telepathy Temperance Theological Virtues Theology Transubstantiation Trinity Triumphalist Truly, truly Ultramontane Understanding Vatican II Vademecum Vanity Veneration Venial Sin Victim Virtues Wisdom Words of Institution Worship Wrath
A letter written by the Pope to part of the Church, e.g., bishops or laity in a particular country, leaders of religious orders, priests, etc.. From the Latin encyclicus and the Greek enkyklios, circular.
Because encyclical epistles are directed to a particular audience within the Church, they receive a great deal of attention from those who whom they are directed. Naturally, however, they receive little attention from those outside the audience to which they are directed.
A recent example would be Pope John Paul II’s encyclical epistle, Slavorum Apostoli on evangelization of the Slavic peoples by Saints Cyril and Methodius. It is addressed “to the bishops, priests, and religious families and to all the Christian faithful,” but certainly of more interest to the Slavic peoples than to the generality of Catholics.
Vatican documents include, in descending order of formal authority: apostolic constitutions, encyclical letters, encyclical epistles, apostolic exhortations, apostolic letters, letters and messages.
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