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Encyclicals and Documents

An "encyclical" in Latin refers to a "circulating letter". The following list of encyclicals has become the widely accepted, though unofficial body of documents commonly referred to as "Catholic Social Teaching."

An "encyclical" in Latin refers to a "circulating letter". The following list of encyclicals has become the widely accepted, though unofficial body of documents commonly referred to as "Catholic Social Teaching."

Catholic Social Teaching is grounded in the values and principles of Judeo-Christian religious experience, which are reflected in the Christian scriptures and the Church's lived tradition. It has evolved as each generation has attempted to live in society with reflective fidelity to those values and that religious vision. An active commitment to social justice is now recognized as essential to authentic Catholic faith.

When you click on any of the document titles below, a resource in PDF format will automatically open, which will include an overview of the document, historical notes, an outline of the document and discussion questions.

These resources are designed to highlight the key points of each document and serve as a reference for further study and explanation. It is obvious, of course, that "overviews" and "outlines" are no substitute for actually reading, studying, and praying over the texts themselves. Then applications must be made to the real life situations of social, economic, political, and cultural conditions at home and around the world. This is the way to make the faith message of these documents come alive in the institutions and values of our day.