Papal and Episcopal Documents relating to Catholic Social Teachings

The social justice teaching of the Catholic Church is rooted in Holy Scripture, which calls the people of God to lives of justice and mercy, compassion and hope, solidarity and peace. Over the centuries, in response to changing conditions and situations, the magisterium (i.e., the teaching authority of the Church -- the bishops, popes, and councils) have responded to the ever-new, yet ever-the-same, circumstances of the human condition with prayer and reflection which has produced ever more detailed doctrine.

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The Social Justice "Canon" (Major universal encyclicals and authoritative statements by Popes and Councils) The "American Canon" (Additional definitive documents from the U.S. Bishops)
Statements by U.S. Bishop's Conference Statements by other National Bishops' Conferences
Curial Documents and Statements Episcopal Documents (letters and statements from Bishops)

Other Papal Documents relating to justice and peace, chronological order
   Pius IX   Leo XIII  Pius X  Benedict XV   Pius XI    Pius XII   John XXIII   Paul VI   John Paul II (encyclicals)
   John Paul II (speeches and non-encyclical documents)  

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2012 Year of Social Justice

The Social Justice Teaching "Canon"

A Catholic Framework for Economic Life -- November 1996 statement of the US bishops summarizing 10 basic premises of the church's social teaching. "The economy exists for the person, not the person for the economy." If you are new to the social teaching, read this first.

Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Workers) This encyclical of Leo XIII is considered by later popes to be the foundational social justice teaching document of the modern era. Issued in 1891, it was a response to the changed conditions brought on by the Industrial Revolution.

Quadragesimo Anno (On the Reconstruction of the Social Order) Issued in 1931, Pius XI reflects on the response of the Church and the World to Rerum Novarum, 40 years after Leo's document was promulgated.

Mater et Magistra (Christianity and Social Progress) Issued by Pope John XXIII in 1961, this encyclical proposes methodologies for the application of Catholic teaching to concrete issues.

Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Issued by Pope John XXIII in 1963, this encyclical reflects on the rights of individuals and draws together two major strands of human rights thought -- the Enlightenment ideals (of which the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are examples) and the older Catholic tradition of natural law rights.

Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) Promulgated by the Second Vatican Council in union with Pope Paul VI, the council continues to build on the foundation of "apostles and prophets" in applying church teachings to the modern world. 1965

Inter Mirifica Decree on the Means of Social Communication, 1963, Vatican II

Sacrosanctum Concilium The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 1963.

Lumen Gentium , Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1964, Vatican II

Gravissimum Educationis Declaration on Christian Education, 1965. Vatican II

Ad Gentes Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church, 1965.

Dignitatis Humanae Declaration on Religious Freedom, 1965.

Perfectae Caritatis Decree on Renewal of Religious Life

Apostolicam Actuositatem , Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, 1965, Vatican II

Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples) Encyclical issued in 1967 by Pope Paul VI. It considers the social and economic development of peoples and calls upon rich nations to assist the poor.

Octogesima Adveniens (A Call to Action) Issued by Pope Paul VI in 1971, the Pope considers the Church in the City on the 80th anniversary of Rerum Novarum.

Justitia in Mundo (Justice in the World) Issued by the Synod of Bishops in 1971, this document is the source of the phrase, "work for social justice is a constituent element of preaching the Gospel".

Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World) This 1975 "Apostolic Exhortation" by Pope Paul VI links evangelism with social justice.

Laboren Exercens (On Human Work) Issued in 1981 by Pope John Paul II, this encyclical reflects on a "theology of work" and "Christ the Worker".

Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern) Issued by Pope John Paul II in 1987, this encyclical has an extensive discussion of solidarity and its role in Catholic teaching. Affirms the continuity of the Church's social doctrine in its links with the Gospel and its constant renewal due to changing conditions and events.

Centesimus Annus (One Hundred Years) 1991 encyclical of Pope John Paul II that reflects on the hundred years of development of Catholic social justice teaching since Rerum Novarum. Contains important teachings on subsidiarity and the utility -- and the limits -- of markets.

Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), Benedict XVI, 2006

Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), Benedict XVI, 2009

The "American Canon" [top]

Additional documents from the U.S. Bishops definitive in the American milieu

Pastoral Letter of 1919 issued September 26, 1919 by the hierarchy of the US, it established "the theoretical foundation of American Catholic social anaylsis for the next half century." It attacked secularism stating that the "only rememdy was to recognize God as the source of justice and the author of our being." It rejected both collectivism and individualism as offshoots of secularism. The authority and logic of papal teachings based on natural law served as the basis for social commentary.

Economic Justice for All -- 1986 pastoral letter of the U.S. bishops on the social teaching of the church.

A Catholic Framework for Economic Life -- November 1996 statement of the US bishops summarizing 10 basic premises of the church's social teaching. "The economy exists for the person, not the person for the economy."

Brothers and sisters to us , 1979 pastoral letter on racism.

The Challenge of Peace: God's promise and our Response, US Catholic Bishops, on war and peace, 1983

A decade after Economic Justice for All , 1996, the US bishops reflects on their 1986 pastoral letter on economic justice.

Other Papal Documents 

relating to Social Justice Issues (listed chronologically)  [top]

Solet Annuere November 29, 1226, bull of Honorious III approving the Rule of St. Francis

Mira Circa Nos July 16, 1228, bull of Gregory IX canonizing St. Francis of Assisi.

Protection of the Jews Bull of Pope Gregory X in the year 1272 forbidding coerced baptisms of Jews and other persecutions; claims precedent for such protection in the previous writings of popes Calixtus, Eugene, Alexander, Clement, Innocent and Honorius; condemns as false the claims that Jews kidnapped and killed Christian children and forbids the extortion of protection money from them.

Sublimus Dei (On the Treatment of Indians) 1537 encyclical of Pope Paul III authoritatively stating that the Indians of the Western Hemisphere are human beings with souls. Forbids their exploitation and enslavement.

Vix Pervenit On Usury, November 1, 1745, condemning urury and dishonest profit.

Peregrinantes Holy Year of 1750, Benedict XIV, May 5, 1749, proclaims a Holy Year, calls for a war against vice among the faithful, gives advice to secular leaders.

Quod Provinciale Modammedan Names, August 1, 1754, Benedict XIV, forbids Christians living in Moslem territories to take or use Mulim names to avoid taxation and persecution.

Cum primum On observing canonical sanctions, Sept 17, 1759, Pope Clement XIII condemns clergy who seek wealth and imposes penalties, condemns erroneous interpretations of canon law in these matters and forbids money changing and other abuses by priests.

Appetente Sacro On the spiritual advantages of fasting, December 20, 1759. Clement XIII

Summa Quae , Pope Clement XIII, On the Church in Poland, condemns certain imprudent compacts made by Polish bishops with civil authorities. January 6, 1768

Decet Quam Maxime On abuses in taxes and benefices, Sept 21, 1769, written to aid the Bishops of Sardinia in combatting simony in their dioceses. Clement XIV

Charitas , (On the civil oath in France), April 13, 1791, Pope Pius VI writes about the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which was approved by the National Assembly in France and which he said would "lead the French people into error and schism."

Diu Satis May 15, 1800, Pope Pius VII speaks of various threats to the Church, especially the problems faced by young people.

Charitate Christi Extending the Jubilee to the Entire Church, December 25, 1825, Pope Leo XII writes of penance, the Sabbath, threats to the church and society, care for those in need, orphans, poor.

Cum Primum On civil obedience, June 29, 1832, Gregory XVI writes to Polish bishops to combat the error of some who udner the pretext of religion were inciting disobedience and rebellion against civil authority.

Mirari Vos On Liberalism and Indifferentism, August 15, 1832, condemns rejection of clerical celibacy and papal authority, indifferentism.

Commissum Divinitus On Church and State, May 17, 1835, Gregory XVI condemns the articles passed by an assembly at Baden concerning the relatoinships of Church and State.

In Supremo Apostolatis 1839, encyclical of Gregory XVI condemning the slave trade. Forbids trading in slaves or defending the trade. Read at the Fourth Provincial Council of Baltimore.

Probe Nostis On the propagation of the Faith, Sept 18, 1840, speaks of the problems of evangelism in an age when the Church is under attack from renegades and heretics.

Pius IX  [top]

Praedecessores nostros (On Aid to Ireland), March 25, 1847, calls upon bishops to order three days of public prayer for the Irish, who were suffering from persecutions, famine and disease, and urges collecting alms for their relief.

Nostis et nobiscum On the Church in the Pontifical States, December 8, 1849, comments on the political situation in Rome, with particular attention to socialism and communism.

Neminem vestrum (On the persecution of the Armenians), February 2, 1854

Apostolicae nostrae caritatis (Urging Prayers for Peace), August 1, 1854, recalls the trials of the Church, the errors of indifferentism, urges reparations and acts of piety.

Cum Sancta Mater Ecclesia (Pleading for Public Prayer), encyclical of Pius IX of April 27, 1859, asks the bishops to order public prayers in their dioceses for peace.

Incredibili (On the Persecution in New Granada) Sept 17, 1863, decries the persecution of the Church in that country.

Meridionali Americae On seminaries for native clergy, Sept 30, 1865, expresses joy at the increase in native clergy and concern for their proper formation.

Levate (On the Afflictions of the Church) October 27, 1867, describes and condemns the evils perpetrated against the Church in Italy, Poland, and Russia.

Etsi Multa encyclical of 21 November 1873, denounces actions against the Church by the governments of Italy, Germany, and Switzerland

Vix dum a nobis (On the Church in Austria), March 7, 1874, condemns pending legislation in Austria to assert civil control over the church.

Quod nunquam (On the Church in Prussia), encyclical of Feb 5, 1875, condemns new laws passed against the Church in Prussia, encourages the bishops there to be subject to civil authority when appropriate, but to obey God before men.

Graves ac diuturnae On the Church in Switzerland, 23 March 1875, condemns anti-Catholic marriage laws.

Pope Leo XIII   [top]

Inscrutabili Dei Consilio On the evils of society, poor, civilization, truth, justice, religion, authority.

Apostolic Muneris (On the Evils of Socialism), December 28, 1878. Considers the evils of socialism 30 years after the 1848 revolutions.

Sancta Dei Civitas On mission societies, December 3, 1880, bishops, gospel, charity, world missions.

Diuturnum On the origin of civil power, June 29, 1881.

Licet Multa on Catholics in Belgium, August 3, 1881, justice, church, philosophy, state.

Auspicato Concessum On St. Francis of Jesus, poverty, cross, socialism. Sept 17, 1882

Etsi Nos on Conditions in Italy, February 15, 1882, liberty, Rome, church, state, apostasy.

Cum Multa On Conditions in Spain, December 8, 1882, religion, politics, bishops, authority, catholic, press, spain.

Nobilissima Gallorum Gens On the religious question in France, church, state, marriage, Feb 8, 1884

Humanum Genus On Freemasonry, April 20, 1884, definitive statement on Freemasonry, civil, politics, association, conspiracy.

Immortale Dei On the Christian Constitution of States, November 1, 1885, society, authority, God, justice, nature, reason.

Spectata Fides On Christian Education, November 27, 1885.

Iampridem on Catholicism in Germany, January 6, 1886, civil authoritities, missions, church, bishops.

Quod Multum -- On the Liberty of the Church August 22, 1886, naturalism, socialism, marriage, youth, education, priests.

Libertas On the nature of human liberty, June 20, 1888, true human liberty as it relates to the individual, social order, human dignity, political and religious authority.

In Plurimism (On the Abolition of Slavery) May 5, 1888, on the occasion of the freeing of many slaves in Brazil as part of celebrations of the pope's 50th anniversary. Notes the slave trade is continuing in Africa and condemns it harshly.

Sape Nos On Boycotting in Ireland, June 24, 1888.

Etsi Cunctas On the Church in Ireland, December 21, 1888, justice, love hardships.

Exeunte Iam Anno On the right ordering of Christian Life, December 25, 1888.

Quam Aerumnosa On Italian Immigrants, morality, charity, priests.

Sapientiae Christian (On Christians as Citizens), January 10, 1890. Exhorts Catholics to practice right principles in their roles in the larger social and political order.

Dall'alto Dell'apostolico Seggio On Freemasonry in Italy, faith, satan, war, property, education, marriage, religion, church. October 15, 1890

Catholicae Ecclesiae (On Slavery in the Missions). Harshly condemns slavery, discusses the situation in Africa and justice. November 20, 1890. Africa, freedom, gospel, justice, slavery.

In Ipso On Episcopal Reunions in Austria, religion, state, workers, March 3, 1891.

Pastoralis Officii On the Morality of Dueling, Sept 12, 1891.

Ad Milieu Des Sollicitudes On Church and State in France, February 16, 1892, liberty, religion, society, morality, world, peace, power.

Custodi Di Quella Fede On Freemasonry, December 8, 1892, church souls, society, gospel, authority, rights.

Arcanum On Christian Marriage, February 10, 1893, the evil of divorce.

Ad Extremas On seminaries for Native Clergy, June 24, 1893, faith, Hindus, priests, India, gospel, souls, persecution.

Laetitiae Sanctae On the Rosary, Sept 8, 1893, mother, society, poverty, suffering.

Permoti Nos On social conditions in Belgium, July 10, 1895, morals, civil law.

Affari Vos (On the Manitoba School Question), December 8, 1897, discusses the problems of Catholics in Manitoba after the province violated the charter by ending tax support of Catholic schools.

Spesse Volte On the Supression of Catholic Institutions, August 5, 1898, suppression, state, institutions, government, Italy.

Quam Religiosa On civil marriage law, August 16, 1898.

Graves De Communi Re On Christian Democracy, January 18, 1901, social action, liberty, democracy, society,

Gravissimas On religious orders in Portugal, May 16, 1901

In Amplissimo On the Church in the United States, April 15, 1902, U.S., unity, schools, education, charity.

Insignes On the Hungarian Millenium, Stephen, unity, peace, liberty. May 1, 1896

Dum Multa On Marriage Legislation, marriage, Ecuador, sacrament, law, family. December 24, 1902

Pope Pius X  [top]

E Supremi Restoration of all things in Christ, October 4, 1903, his first encyclical, peace church, religious, laity, formation.

Lucunda Sane (On Pope Gregory the Great), March 12, 1904, charity, holiness, morality, zeal

Acerbo Nimis On teaching Christian Doctrine, April 15, 1905, ignorance, intellect, holiness, will, instreuction, catechist, grace, youth, CCD.

Il Fermo Proposito (On Catholic Action in Italy), June 11, 1905, civilization,s tate, society, union, bishop.

Vehementer Nos (On the French law of separation), marriage, prayer, state, church, persecution, France. Feb 11, 1906

Gravissimo Officii Munere (On French Associations of Worship), August 10, 1906, church, peace, law, bishops, France.

Une Fois Encore (On the separation of Church and State), January 1, 1907, war, persecution, bishops, property, law.

Lamentabili Sane Pope Pius X, July 3, 1907, modernism.

Pascendi Dominici Gregis On the Doctrine of the Modernists, Sept 8, 1907, brings modernist teachings together, describes the connection between them, examines sources of the errors.

Lamdudum On the Law of Separation in Portugal, May 24, 1911, liberty, justice, property, unity, church, Portugal

Lacrimabili Statu (On the Indians of South America), June 7, 1912, slavery, virtue, state, Gospel.

Singulari Quadam (On Labor Organizations), September 24, 1912, Rerum Novarum, Bishops, church, charity, labor organizations.

Pope Benedict XV  [top]

Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum (Appealing for Peace), given on November 1, 1914, discusses war, class, nations, Europe, modernism, and peace.

Quod Iam Diu (On the Future Peace Conference), December 1, 1918. Discusses war, peace, and poverty in Europe.

Paterno Iam Diu (On the Children of Central Europe), November 24, 1919; first of two letters discussing problems of post-war Europe, especially those of children.

Pacem, Dei Munus Pulcherrimum (On Peace and Christian Reconciliation), May 23, 1920. Discusses war, solidarity, reconciliation, nations.

Annus Iam Pelnus (On the Children of Central Europe), December 1, 1920, discussing poverty and misery in post-world war Europe.

Pope Pius XI  [top]

Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio On the peace of Christ in His Kingdom, Mary, war, Bible, marriage, school, society, family, modernism, liberty, peace. Dec 23, 1922

Maximam Gravissimamque On French Diocesan Associations, January 18, 1924.

Quas Primas On the Feast of Christ the King, December 11, 1925, authorizes this new holy day of obligation.

Rerum Ecclesiae On the Catholic Missions, February 28, 1926, missions, charity, natives.

Rite Expiatis On St. Francis of Assisi, April 30, 1926

Iniquis Afflictisque On the persecution of the Church in Mexico, November 18, 1926.

Miserentissimus Redemptor On Reparation to the Sacred Heart, May 8, 1928, consecration, reparation, charity, sloth, baptism.

Mens Nostra (The Promotion of Spiritual Exercises), December 20, 1929, speaking of the practice of Spiritual Exercises, the Holy Father says "we earnestly desire to see it daily extended more widel, not only among the clergy both secular and regular, but also among the multitudes of the Catholic laity."

Divini Illius Magistri On the Christian Education of Youth, December 31, 1929.

Casti Connubii (On Christian Marriage), December 31, 1930, discusses dignity of Christian marriage and its advantages to people and to society, discusses errors and vices that damage the conjugal union.

Non Abbiamo Bisogno (On Catholic Action in Italy), June 29, 1931, written to counter attacks on "truth and justice" by Italian fascists, including false accusation, forced disbanding of Catholic Youth and Catholic Action organizations, brutality, violence, bloodshed.

Nova Impendet (On the Economic Crisis), October 2, 1931, written on the verge of winter during the Great Depression, calls for a crusade of charity and prayer for all suffering destitution and indigence.

Caritae Christi Compulsi On the Sacred Heart, May 3, 1932, charity, impiety, mercy, peace, Mary, liberty, Sacred Heart.

Acerba Animi (On the persecution of the Church in Mexico), 29 Sept 1932 to the Mexican hierarchy, lamenting the prsecution of the church there.

Dilectissima Nobis On oppression of the Church in Spain, June 3, 1933, tothe persecuted Church of Spain. Notes the advantage of the unrestricted activity of the Church to the social order, decries the separation of Church and state and other crimes against the Church.

Vigilanti Cura (On Motion Pictures), June 29, 1936, reminds Bishops of the dangers to morality posed by motion pictures, orders diocesan offices to rate movies.

Mit Brennender Sorge (On the Church and the German Reich, with burning sorrow) March 19, 1937. Discusses the situation in Germany, condemns persecution of the Jews.

Divini Redemptoris (On Atheistic Communism) March 19, 1937; condemns atheistic communism.

Nos es muy conocida On the Religious Situation in Mexico, March 28, 1937, writing to the Bishops of Mexico, stresses the role of the laity in the face of government persecution, includes principles for the use of force in combatting government injustice.

Pope Pius XII  [top]

Summi Pontificatus (On the Unity of Human Society), October 10, 1939, prays for unity in Christ, discusses solidarity.

Sertum Laetitiae On the start of the Church in the United States, November 11, 1939, issued on the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the hierarchy in the US.

The Internal Order of States and Peoples Christmas message of Pope Pius 12, 1942.

Divino Afflante Spiritu (On Promoting Biblical Studies), condemns several errors of biblical criticism, and stresses the need to use modern science and methods of criticism in exegesis. September 30, 1943

Orientalis Ecclesiae On St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, April 9, 1944.

Democracy and a Lasting Peace The 1944 Christmas Message of Pope Pius XII

Communium Interpretes Dolararum (An Appeal for Prayers for Peace), April 15, 1945, P encourages a return to Christian morals and calls for prayers for world peace.

Rural Life Speech by Pope Pius XII to the delegates at the Convention fo the National Confederation of Farm Owner-Operators.

Quemadmodum (A Plea for the Care of the World's Destitute Children) January 6, 1946.

Fulgens Radiatur (On St. Benedict), March 21, 1947. "Whoever considers his celebrated life and studies in the light of the truth of history, the gloomy and stormy times in which he lived, will without doubt realize the truth of the divine promise which Christ made to the Apostles and to the society He founded, 'I am with you all days even to the consumation of the world.'" (Pius XII).

Mediator Dei (On the Sacred Liturgy), November 20, 1947.

Optatissima Pax (On Public Prayers for Peace), December 18, 1947, precribes public prayers for social and world peace, discusses nations, wealth, the masses, strife, and children.

Auspicia Quaedam (On Public Prayers for Peace), May 1, 1948, Pope Pius XII's second call for public prayers for world peace and a resolution to the problem of Palestine.

In Multiplicibus Curis (On Prayers for Peace in Palestine), October 24, 1948; on war and prayers for peace in the Middle East.

Redemptoris Nostri Cruciatus (On the Holy Places in Palestine), April 15, 1949, discusses peace, refugees, Jerusalem, the situation in the Middle East, and calls for prayer.

Anni Sacri (On Combating Atheistic Propaganda) March 12, 1950, Calls for program to fight atheistic propaganda, zelous prayer and action is urged to protect rights of religion.

Summi Maeroris (On Public Prayers for Peace), July 19, 1950. Discusses war, weapons, morals, calls for public prayers for peace.

Mirabile Illud (On the Crusade of Prayer for Peace), December 6, 1950, discusses marian devotion, peace, war, and charity.

Evangelii Praecones (On the promotion of Catholic missions), June 2, 1951, encouragement and guidelines for spiritual and social missionaries.

Ingruentium Malorum (On Reciting the Rosary), September 15, 1951 -- "fly with greater confidence to the Mother of God. There, the Christian people have always sought chief refuge in the hour of danger. . ."

Orientales Ecclesias (On the persecuted Eastern Church), December 15, 1952

Ad Sinarum Gentem (On the Supra-Nationality of the Church), October 7, 1954, directed to the clergy and people of China regarding their suffering under communism.

Musicae Sacrae , December 25, 1955. On Sacred Music.

Luctuosissimi Eventus (On Prayers for the People of Hungary), October 28, 1956, urges public prayers for peace and freedom for Hungary.

Laetamur Admodum (On Prayers for Peace for Poland, Hungary, and the Middle East), November 1, 1956, a renewed exhortation for prayers for peace.

Datis Nuperrime (Condemning the Ruthless Use of Force in Hungary), November 5, 1956, deploring events in Hungary, condemning communists ruthless use of force.

Fidei Donum (On the condition of the Catholic missions), April 21, 1957, especially in Africa.

Le Pelerinage de Lourdes (Warning Against Materialism) July 2, 1957, on the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Lourdes, this encyclical attacks the scourge of materialism.

Miranda Prorsus (On the Communications Field), September 8, 1957, discusses the field of social communications, especially motion pictures, and the problems that can result.

Ad Apostolorum Principis On Communism and the Church in China, June 29, 1958. On the authority of the church, consecration of bishops, and the duty of patriotism, as regards relations between the Apostolic See and the Chinese Patriotic Church.

Meminisse Iuvat (On Prayers for the Persecuted Church), July 14, 1958, calls for prayers for the persecuted Church in Eastern Europe and Asia, also discusses war, Europe, Asia.

Pope John XXIII  [top]

Ad Petri Cathedram (On Truth, Unity, and Peace), Pope John XXIII's first encyclical discusses how these are achieved in charity. June 29, 1959

Grata Recordatio , (On the Rosary), September 26, 1959, discusses missions, international and social problems, the rosary and prayer.

Princeps Pastorum On the Missions, November 26, 1959.

Pope Paul VI  [top]

Ecclesiam Suam (On the Church), August 6, 1964, the role of the Church in the world and attitudes of the Church in relation to the world.

Mense Maio (On Praying to Mary During May), April 30, 1965. Urges Catholics to pray more than ever to Mary during May, and exhorts all to seek peace by negotiation and prayer.

Christi Matri (On Prayers to Mary for Peace) September 15, 1966. Exhorts leaders to strive through negotiation for peace "based on justice and freedom for all humanity". Encourages Catholics to deepen devotion to Mother of Christ as evils in the world increase.

Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), July 25, 1968, on the proper and improper use of marriage and sex, condemns artificial birth control, abortion.

John Paul II (encyclicals and apostolic letters)  [top]

Ecclesia in America post-synodal exhortation of Pope John Paul II to the people of God in the Americas.

Redemptor Hominis (Redeemer of Humankind) 1979 encyclical of Pope John Paul II that develops his Christian personalist anthropology that is the foundation of his later social justice encyclicals.

Catechesi Tradendae (On Catechesis in Our Time), October 16, 1979.

Dives in Misericordia (On the Mercy of God), November 30, 1980. Shows how God is very close to humanity, especially when we are suffering and under threat.

Familiaris Consortio (On the Family) 1981 encyclical of Pope John Paul II on the family and its role in society.

Salvifici Doloris (On Human Suffering), February 11, 1984, meditation on suffering, expresses solidarity with all who suffer.

Reconciliatio et Paenitentia , (On Reconciliation and Penance), December 2, 1984, calls us to repent and believe the Gospel, discusses structures of sin that afflict humanity.

Augustinum Hipponensem on the occasion of the 16th centenary of the conversion of St. Augustine, August 28, 1986

Redemptoris Mater Mother of the Redeemer, March 25, 1987.

Mulierius Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women) 1988 encyclical of Pope John Paul II.

Redemptoris Missio (On Evangelization), December 7, 1990. Seeks to inspire missionary activity and an interior renewal of faith and Christian life.

Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) August 6, 1993, affirms moral teachings of the church, including the existence of absolute values.

Tertio Millennio Adveniente As the Third Millenium Draws Near, November 14, 1994.

Evangelium Vitae (On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life) March 25, 1995, discusses abortion, euthanasia, violence, value of life.

Ut Unum Sint (That They May Be One), May 25, 1995, a call for a new discussion of the authority and ministry of the Pope.

Vita Consecrata (The Consecrated Life), March 25, 1996, discusses religious life, including poverty and the special option for the poor.

Stella Maris (On the Apostleship of the Sea), January 31, 1997, Apostolic Letter

John Paul II (speeches and non-encyclical documents)  [top]

Speeches and Sermons of Pope John Paul II in Cuba, January 1998

Promote Real Economic Democracy , Pope John Paul II to the Central Institute of Co-operative Banks, June 1998

When the Church Proclaims the Truth, She is Never Marginal Ad limina apostolorum, Bishops of the U.S., February 27, 1998, Pope John Paul II.

Urbi et Orbi Message Easter Sunday 1998, Pope John Paul II

Sapientia Christiana On Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties, March 15, 1979, the importance of Catholic universities in imparting Christian wisdom so that a higher culture might be formed.

The Dignity of Woman and Her Mission April 29, 1979, talk given to an audience with members of the Italian Professional Association of Family Collaborators

Opening Address at the Puebla Conference , delivered in Puebla de los Angeles, Mexico, January 28, 1979.

Freedom of Conscience and of Religion 1980 letter to the Madrid meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Examines human rights, especially freedom of conscience, encourages serious examination of the present situation of this liberty.

Familiaris Consortio (On the Family) December 15, 1981, discusses the situation of the family in the world today.

Negotiation: The only realistic solution to the continuing threat of war 1982

Consecration of the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary -- May 13, 1982, act of consecration of the modern world to Our Lady of Fatima, after concelebrated mass in Fatima.

Dangers of Genetic Manipulation , October 29, 1983, address to members of the World Medical Association.

Redemptionis Donum (On Religious Life), March 25, 1984, speaks to men and women religious regarding chastity, poverty, obedience, witness and apostolates.

Morality of the Marriage Act Determined by the Nature of the Act , general audience, July 11, 1984, based on Humanae Vitae.

The Norm of Humanae Vitae Arises from Natural Law and Revealed Order , general audience of July 18, 1984.

Importance of Harmonizing Human Love with Respect for Life , general audience July 25, 1984.

Responsible Parenthood , general audience August 1, 1984, discusses Gaudium et spes and Humanae vitae in conjunction with parenthood.

Faithfulness to the Divine Plan in the Transmission of Life , General Audience of August 8, 1984.

The Church's Position on the Trgansmission of Life , sixth in a series of general audience catechesis on Humanae Vitae, August 22, 1984.

A Discipline that Enobles Human Love , August 28, 1984, general audience, catechesis on Humanae Vitae

Responsible Parenthood Linked to Moral Maturity September 5, 1984, general audience, catechesis on Humanae Vitae

Principal Sources of Spirituality for Married Couples general audience, October 3, 1984, continuing in his series on Humanae Vitae, identifies prayer, penance, and Eucharist as sources of spirituality for married couples.

Power of Love is Given to Man and Woman as a Share in God's Love October 10, 1984, general audience, catechesis on Humanae Vitae

Continence Protects the Dignity of the Conjugal Act October 24, 1984, general audience, catechesis on Humanae Vitae.

Continence Frees One from Inner Tension October 31, 1984, general audience, catechesis on Humanae Vitae

Continence Deepens Personal Communion November 7, 1984, catechesis on Humanae Vitae.

Respect for the Work of God , November 21, 1984, outline of conjugal spirituality, catechesis on Humanae Vitae.

The Redemption fo the Body and the Sacramentality of Marriage November 28, 1984, general audience, last in series of catechesis on Humanae Vitae.

Address at Williams-Brice Stadium September 11, 1987, Columbia SC, on married life and the family.

Christifideles Laici On the Laity, December 30, 1988,

The Church Must Learn to Cope with Computer Culture , May 27, 1989, statement in connection with World Communications Day.

The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility , message for World Day of Peace, January 1, 1990.

Consecration of the Chuch and World to the Blessed Virgi Mary , Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1990.

On Combatting Abortion and Euthanasia , May 19, 1991.

As an Everlasting Memorial apostolic brief declaring the Beatification of Msgr. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, May 17, 1992.

Deacons serve the Kingdom of God audience of October 5, 1993

Deacon has many pastoral functions general audience, 13 Octoebr 1993, focuses on role of deacon as a liturgical minister and as one who promotes the apostolate of the laity.

Deacons are called to life of holiness. General audience October 20, 1993

Television and Family , message for the 1994 World Communications Day

Splendor in Justice and Law January 28, 1994 address to the Roman Rota. "Love for truth must be expressed in love for justice," says John Paul II

Vitae Mysterium moto proprio establishing the Pontifical Academy for Life, February 11, 1994

Letter to Families February 22, 1994, marking 1994 celebration of the International Year of the Family.

Population Conference Draft Document Criticized , text of a talk given March 18, 1994 during a meeting at the Vatican with Nafis Sadik, executive director of the UN Fund for Population Activities. Criticizes the final draft document for the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.

Letter to President Clinton , April 5, 1994, the Holy Father terms the draft document for the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo a "disturbing surprise".

Address to the participants of the Symposium on the Participation of the Laity April 22, 1994.

Literacy is Essential Duty for Man's Future September 7, 1994, the Holy Father's 1995 Lenten message reflects on the "terrible affliction" of illiteracy.

Consecrated Life is Rooted in Baptism general audience of Oct 26, 1994.

What Would the World Be, Ancient and Modern, Without Consecrated Life? October 29, 1994, homily given at the conclusion of the world Synod of Bishops on the consecrated life.

Urbi et Orbi December 25, 1994, discusses the family at the close of the Year of the Family, laments selfishness and violence that tear apart families.

Women: Teachers of Peace , January 1, 1995, message for the World Day of Peace

Address to the Diplomatic Corps , January 9, 1995, annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, discusses mechanisms of international relations, role of the UN, 1994 Cairo conference, and various trouble spots about the globe.

Homily for World Youth Day's Prayer Vigil January 14, 1995, "The Gospel is not a theory or an ideology! The Gospel is life! Your task is to bear witness to this life!" Luneta Park, Manila, Philippines.

Homily at Closing Mass of the 10th World Youth Day January 15, 1995, warns against moral slavery to drugs, alcohol, sexuality.

Address to the Roman Rota of February 10, 1995, for the traditional opening of the judicial year.

Talk to National Bishops Conference of Brazil February 17, 1995, exhorts Bishops to make pastoral care of the family a priority.

Missionary Activity May 10, 1995, about the value of missionary activity and its evangelizing goal.

Address on Breastfeeding , May 12, 1995, speech to participants in a study session on breast-feeding, science, and society, sponsored by Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Rights of Conscience Must Be Defended , May 22, 1995 homily at Mass in Poland.

Papal Message on Women's Conference in Beijing , May 26, 1995, statement given by the Holy Father to Mrs. Gertrude Mongella, Secretary General of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women.

Cinema: Communicator of Culture and of Values May 28, 1995, for World Day of Communications.

Address on 50th Anniversary of the Pax Christi Movement , May 29, 1995, urges Pax Christi to promote reconciliation.

Beatification of Damien de Veuster June 4, 1995, "Saint of the Lepers", in Brussels, Belgium

World Mission Day , October 22, 1995, the Holy Father asks us to "implore from the Lord an ever greater zeal for evangelization: the first and greatest service which Christians can offer the women and men of our time marked by hatred, violence, injustice, and in particular, by the loss of the true meaning of life." Given June 11, 1995.

Damien de Veuster -- Witness to God's Presence in History , June 7, 1995, more on the Saint of the Lepers from the Holy Father.

Bishops Conference of Brazil ad limina visit, June 13, 1995

Local Churches Have Missionary Task general audience of June 14, 1995.

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ of June 15, 1995.

Culture of Equality is Urgently Needed Today , June 25, 1995, Angelus reflection, "The Gospel message about women however has lost none of its timeliness." Discusses equality of men and women.

Unity Results from Legitimate Diversity -- general audience, June 28, 1995, catechesis on the missionary activity of the Church.

Papal Letter to Women , June 29, 1995, issued in preparation for the Beijing Conference.

Mary Prepares Hearts for Conversion , July 1, 1995, at the Shrine of the Sorrowful Virgin in Sastin.

Martyrdom Unites us with all Believers homily at mass for the canonization of Marek Krizin, Stefan Pongracz, Melichar Grodziecky, July 2, 1995

Slovaks Endured Relentless Persecution general audience, July 5, 1995

Men and Women Must Live for the Other -- Angelus reflection, July 9, 1995, regarding the relationship between women and men, "This complementarity and reciprocity emerges in every context of coexistence."

Mission of Motherhood Makes Woman a Guardian of Life Angelus reflection, July 16, 1995. Women are called to encourage their children's dialogue with the world.

Only the "Assisi Spirit" Can Wipe Out Symbolic Starting Point of this Century's Tragedies July 23, 1995

Society and Church Need Genius of Woman , July 23, 1995

The Church and Illegal Immigration , July 25, 1995, papal statement for World Migration Day 1996.

Initial Education iN Family Relies on "Feminine Genius" July 30, 1995

Human Society is Not Built by Destroying the Person August 5, 1995, on the occasion of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki anniversaries, calls for everyone to make efforts to avoid new tragedies.

Culture Needs Women's Genius , August 6, 1995.

Equal Opportunity Still Urgently Needed August 20, 1995

Women Have Much to Offer in Political Life -- August 27, 1995

Papal Appeal on Behalf of Women -- August 29, 1995

Enhance Women's Role in Church Life -- September 3, 1995

Ecclesia in Africa Apostolic papal exhortation, September 15, 1995.

Beatification of Martyrs of the French Revolution and the Spanish Civil War October 1, 1995.

Celebrate and Serve Life! October 3, 1995, audience to participants of the World Pro-Life Congress.

Welcome Address, Newark International Airport October 4, 1995, returning to US for 50thanniversary of the United Nations organization, the Holy Father notes continuing importance of the UN's founding ideals. Calls upon US to live up to its grave responsibility as a model of democracy and urges American people to build a society of justice.

Address at Vespers, Newark Cathedral October 4, 1995, calls all to engage in evangelization, affirms the role of the United Nations in service of peace and solidarity.

Greeting to the United Nations Staff October 5, 1995. Address to staff members of the U.N. Expresses Church's support for their work on behalf of international justice and peace. Says the Church is the voice of human conscience, proclaiming that the human person is the true focus of all social, economic, and political activity.

Address to United Nation's General Assembly October 5, 1995. Speech reflects on changes in the world situation and the building of a true culture of freedom.

Homily at Giants Stadium October 5, 1995, the Holy Father calls laity to engage in the new evangelization, encourages Americans to be faithful to their best tradition as a hospitable and generous society, calls Christians to defend life.

Homily at Aqueduct Racetrack October 6, 1995. Says that true progress of peoples is linked with evangelization. He wonders if there is room in America for the mystery of God's kingdom and its message of life. Emphasizes defending marriage and family life for the good of society.

Homily at Central Park , October 7, 1995.

Blessing of the Office of the Permanent Mission , October 7, 1995, speech at the dedication of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Greeting at St. Patricks October 7, 1995, discussing Religious and Catholic Families and the difficulties they encounter in this world.

Catholic Relief Services Message October 8, 1995

Homily in Orioles Park at Camden Yards October 8, 1995

Greeting in Baltimore Cathedral October 8, 1995

Departing Remarks October 8, 1995

All Believers Have Right to Receive Catholic Doctrine in its Integrity , October 18, 1995, address to group of Brazilian Bishops

On World Mission Day , October 22, 1995, calls for greater zeal in evangelization, these times are marked by hatred, violence, injustice, and lack of respect for life.

Church is Neighbor to the Rejected , October 26, 1995

Mary is Model of Care for the Sick -- November 1, 1995, Fourth World Day of the Sick.

God Will Judge the World with Justice -- November 19, 1995, reflection on the "last things".

Integral Vision of Health Care -- speech to Italian Catholic Doctors, November 25, 1995.

Mary Shows Us God's Respect for Women -- General Audience, November 29, 1995.

Mary Shed Light on the Role of Women -- December 6, 1995, general audience, Mary as model for woman's role in the contemporary world.

Message on the 50th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe

Blessed is the People Founded on Love homily at closing mass of Synod for Lebanon, December 14, 1995.

Let us Give Children a Future of Peace , January 1, 1996, World Day of Peace

Address on the Exchange of Greetings with the Diplomatic Corps -- January 13, 1996

Relativism is Not Basis of Religious Freedom -- February 18, 1996, Angelus Message

Latin America is Truly Blessed With Faith general audience February 14, 1996

Woman's Moral Nobility , April 10, 1996, General Audience

Reaffirm the Culture of Life! Message to international congress sponsored by Pontifical Council for the Family, Bioethics Institute of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, and the Pontifical Athenaeum, April 22-24, 1996.

Relativism Is Not Basis of Religious Freedom Angelus message, February 18, 1996

Motherhood is God's Special Gift General Audience, March 6, 1996,

To Those Who Share in His Triumph Over Death, the Lord Grants Courage to Build Up a New Humanity -- Easter Message, April 7, 1996

Woman's Moral Nobility General Audience, April 10, 1996

Reaffirm the Culture of Life address to international congress held in Rome sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, April 22-24, 1996.

The Media: Modern Forum for Promoting the Role of Women in Society == World Communications Day, May 19, 1996

Halt the Production of Human Embryos , May 24, 1996, "appeal to world's scientific authorities", speech to audience with those attending Symposium on Evangelium vitae and Law, and the 11thInternational Colloquium on Roman and Canon Law.

Take a Great Step Forward in the Work of Evangelization -- June 15, 1996, speech to fourth group of Bishops from Colombia on their ad limina visit to Rome."

They Witnessed to Life in a Culture of Death homily at the beatification of Bernhard Lichtenberg and Karl Leisner, June 23, 1996 in Berlin

Foundress of Sisters of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd founded her faith on Christ July 9, 1996, letter to Superior General of the order, marking the second centenary of the birth of the Foundress.

Show Concern for Plight of Migrants -- August 21, 1996, message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 1997.

Bishop's Martyrdom Must Become Seed of Love , August 4, 1996, the Holy Father condemns Algerian bomb attack and calls for pace and brotherhood.

Christianity has Deeply Marked Culture of Peoples Angelus message, September 1, 1996, reflection on the union of faith and culture.

Fifth Centenary of First American Baptisms addressed to the Bishops of the Dominican Republic.

Democracy Without Values Threatens Peace , November 8, 1996, speech to plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. "The central theme of your plenary assembly is the relationship between democracy and values, to which I have frequently referred. It involves a range of the most timely and decisive issues for preserving and improving democratic systems."

Wipe out the tragic scandal of hunger -- November 13, 1996, General Audience. "Tragic indeed is the current state in which more than 800 million people find themselves due to lack of food or to malnutrition. Every effort must be urgently made to wipe out the scandal of the coexistence of persons who lack the basic essentials with others who have a superabundance."

Food Security Results from Ethic of Solidarity -- address to World Food Summit, November 13, 1996. We must seek (the solutions) together so that we will no longer have, side by side, the starving and the wealthy, the very poor and the very rich, those who lack the necessary means and others who lavishly waste them. Such contrasts between poverty and wealth are intolerable for humanity."

Incarnation Inspires Christian Genius November 28, 1996, speech to the first joint public session of all the Pontifical Academies: "I trust that in the light of the Year 2000, your Pontifical Academies will be able to make an original contribution to creating a renewed Christian humanism, presenting the humanity of Christ as a model for the generations of the new millenium."

Mentally Ill Are Also Made in God's Image -- November 30, 1996, speech to participants in the international conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-care Workers. "Whoever suffers from mental illness always bears God's image and likeness in himself, as does every human being. In addition, he always has the inalienable right not only to be considered as an image of God and therefore as a person, but also to be treated as such."

Be United to Christ and Peter's Successor December 3, 1996, address of Holy Father to the Church in China, on the memorial of St. Francis Xavier.

Natural Methods Strengthen Harmony of Married Couples -- December 7, 1996. Natural family planning "supports the process of freedom and emancipation of women and peoples from unjust family planning programes, which bring in their sad wake the various forms of contraception aabortion, and sterilization". Speech to those studying the teaching of natural methods of fertility regulation.

Motherhood: Woman's Gift to Society -- December 7, 1996. "Motherhood shows a creativity on which the humanity of each human being largely depends; it also invites man to learn and to express his own fatherhood. Thus women contribute to society and to the Church their ability to nurture human beings."

Disregard of Family Threatens Society -- December 12, 1996, speech to Bishops who serve as presidents of Latin American Episcopal Commissions for the Family.

Vietnamese Church Has Given Heroic Witness to Christ's Love. Ad limina visit of Vietnamese Bishops, 14 December 1996.

Spread Forgiveness and You Will Become Peacemakers -- December 21, 1996, speech to group of young members of Catholic Action, urging them to be peacemakers in their own surroundings.

The Future of a People Can Never be Founded on Violence -- December 22, 1996, angelus reflection

Urbi et Orbi: Love One Another as Brothers and Sisters -- December 25, 1996, Christmas Message and Blessing to City and World

Fidelity of Husband and Wife Stands Like a Solid Rock on which Children's Trust Rests December 29, 1996, Angelus reflection on the Holy Family

Offer Forgiveness and Receive Peace , message for World Day of Peace, January 1, 1997.

God Never Tires of Loving and Forgiving Us -- "It is hard and sometimes even appears to be impossible to forgive, but it is the only way, because all revenge and all violence give rise to further revenge and violence." Angelus reflection, January 1, 1997, World Day of Peace.

Science Serves Humanity Only When it is Joined to Conscience -- January 11, 1997, speech to those attending International Conference on Space Research at University of Padua, Italy. "Always be concerned with the moral implications of your methods and your discoveries. It is my prayer that scientists will never forgte that the cause of humanity is authentically served only if knowledge is joined to conscience."

Do Not Lose Heart as you Preach Christ's Gospel to the Indifferent -- January 11, 1997, speech to first group of French Bishops making their ad limina visit to Rome.

Morality Must Inspire Law of Nations January 13, 1997, speech to members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See

Rediscover Law as Interpersonal Reality -- January 27, 1997, to Prelate Auditors and officials of the Roman Rota, audience for the opening of the judicial year. "Putting the person at the centre of the civilization of love does not exclude the law, but instead demands it, leading to a rediscovery of law as an interpersonal reality and to a vision of juridical institutions that highlights their constitutive link with persons themselves, which is so essential in the case of marriage and the family." Speech is focused on the juridical effects of a personalist conception of marriage.

Every Human Life is Sacred February 2, 1997, Angelus reflection on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and Italian Pro-Life Day. "Life, one's own and that of others cannot be disposed of at will: it belongs to the Author of life. Love inspires the culture of life, while selfishness inspires the culture of death."

The Sick Need Our Human Warmth -- February 9, 1997, Angelus reflection for the World Day of the Sick, considers the Lord's power of healing and recommends compassion for "the elderly who are no longer self-sufficient, defenceless children, the disabled, the severely handicapped, and the terminally ill", instead of considering them a burden.

Filipino Families are Seeking Sound Doctrine, Grace, and Human Empathy == February 10, 1997, to the third group of Philippine Bishops to make their ad limina visit to Rome. The family is the domestic church, the first community to be evangelized.

Reclaim Every Human Being's Right to Life -- February 14, 1997, address to members of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life. "The historic and pressing moment has come to take a decisive step for civilization and the authentic welfare of peoples: the necessary step to reclaim the full human dignity and the right to life of every human being from the first instant of life and throughout the whole prenatal stage."

Church Defends Moral Rights of Citizens -- February 14, 1997, audience of H.E. Mr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, President of the Brazil. The Church "will make use of all avaialble means to defend life from conception to its natural end. For this reason, when radically unjust legislation is introduced, such as abortion and euthanasia, she will continue to be the faithful and staunch defender of the moral rights of citizens who seek to have their convictions respected."

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving Mark Church's Lenten Journey of Penitence Angelus message of the First Sunday of Lent, February 16, 1997

Institutions Must Focus on the Person -- February 22, 1997. "Renewed attention is being given to the tasks and responsiblities of public administration. This widespread sensitivity to institutions is accompanied b a growing demand for participation in the running of public affairs, and the desire to give increasing importance to autonomous local bodies. . . There is a growing desire to take part in the decisions concerning the future of the whole community and, at the same time, an increasing awareness that no institution can be 'used', but must be 'served' with selfless dedication." Speech to members of the Provincial Board and Council of Rome.

Catholic Schools Offer Education Based on Gospel Values -- February 23, 1997, speech at a Catholic school in Rome. "Today, cooperation between family, parish and school is more necessary than ever, not to restrict the freedom of adolescents, but to mould it and enable it to make responsible and well-motivated choices."

Tell the World of Jubilee's True Meaning -- February 28, 1997, speech to audience with members of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Considers moral and spiritual discernment in the social order.

Developing Special Concern for the Homeless -- 1997 Lenten message for the first year of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

The World God Created Must Not Be Profaned -- March 2, 1997, Angelus reflection. "The whole world belongs to God and must not be profaned."

Peaceful Solution Must Be Found to Tragedy in Zaire -- Speech to second group of Zairean Bishops making their ad limina visit to Rome, March 3, 1997. "I urgently renew the call for the fighting to cease. I keenly hope that the parties affected by the crisis in the Great Lakes (Zaire) region will lose no time in initiating dialogue and negotiation to find a peaceful solution to the tragic problems that exist."

From the Justice of Each Comes Peace for All papal message for World Day of Peace, January 1, 1998. "I also think of the marginalized, the poor, victims of all kinds of exploitation. These are people who are experiencing in their own flesh the absence of peace and the terrible effects of injustice. Who can remain indifferent to their craving for a life rooted in justice and genuine peace? It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that they achieve their desire; there can be no complete justice unless everyone shares in it equally."

Message for World Migration Day 1998

When the Church Proclaims the Truth, She is Never Marginal Ad limina apostolorum, Bishops of the U.S., February 27, 1998, Pope John Paul II.

Urbi et Orbi Message Easter Sunday 1998, Pope John Paul II

Statements by the United States Bishops' Conference  [top]

Documents Relating to the Call to Action Conference. In October 1976, 1,350 delegates and 1,000 observers attended a Detroit conference (organized by an NCCB committee) to consider messages and information gathered during the previous two years from discussions at the local and national levels.

In 1977, the U.S. bishops made a preliminary response to the resolutions of the conference, accepting some of the recommendations but disagreeing with and rejecting others (specifically, those regarding optional priestly celibacy, ordination of married men, and ordination of women).

In 1978, the NCCB presented "To Do the Work of Justice", a five year plan for implementing six areas of justice emphasis in the Catholic Church in the U.S.

This is the event from which the group, "Call to Action," took its name. This group recently announced its goal to get one million signatures on a petition to the Pope in support of their agenda fell far short of its goal, only gathering 37,000 signatures in a year and a half of work.

The following statements are documents of the US Catholic Bishops, they are not documents of the organization, "Call to Action", in fact, in "The Bicentennial Consultation: A Response", the bishops specifically reject the conference recommendations that are contrary to Catholic teaching (i.e. ordination of women, abortion, and birth control), or contrary to long-established discipline (priestly celibacy and married men in the Latin rite priesthood).

The original conference which produced the resolutions to which these documents respond was an official activity of the NCCB. To give the Bishop's perspective on this event, in addition to the two NCCB responses, we also present the Opening Address by John Cardinal Dearden, Archbishop of Detroit, who was chairman of the NCCB Ad Hoc Committee for the Bicentennial.

Opening Address of John Cardinal Dearden to the Call to Action Conference October 1976.

To Do the Work of Justice: A Plan of Action for the Catholic Community in the U.S. Approved May 4, 1978 by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, this was the form

Other U.S. Bishop's Conference Statements

Everyday Christianity: to hunger and thirst for justice , US Bishops, 1998, a pastoral reflection for lay discipleship for justice in the new millennium.

Sharing Catholic social teaching: challenges and directions , 1998, reflections of the US Bishops.

Pastoral Letter on Mexico from the Bishops of the US, December 12, 1926. "Reasons for issuing this pastoral arise out of the higher considerations of duty to those principles upon which all just government must be founded, principles which guard rights conferred upon man, not by States, but by God Himself. None, much less bishops of the Church that holds the spiritual allegiance of almost the entire Mexican population, can be indifferent when these vital principles are attacked as boldly and as cruelly as is being done in Mexico today."

The Christian Family - November 21, 1949. "Since family life is thus essential to the individual, to the State, and to the Church, it follows that whatever protects or promotes good family life is to be diligently fostered. . ." Link dead, can't find new one, looking for copy of text to host here.

The Child: Citizen of Two Worlds US Bishops, November 17, 1950.

On Penance and Abstinence November 18, 1966, NCCB, the obligation of penance on all Fridays.

Bishops of US Ask Christian Response July 31, 1968, calling for assent to Humanae Vitae. link dead, can't locate new copy.

Pastoral Statement on Abortion text of US bishops' statement on the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. link dead, have not located new copy.

Behold Your Mother: Woman of Faith the teaching of the Church regarding Mary and her place in Christian life, November 21, 1973. Link dead, new copy not found.

Choices for the Future: USCC Administrative Board Statement on Political Responsibility Link dead, new copy not found.

Called to Compassion and Responsibility a Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis, Novembr 1989

Nutrition and Hydration: Moral and Pastoral Reflections Committee for Pro-Life Activities, NCCB, April 1992.

Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services US bishops Committee on Doctrine, December 1, 1994, originally approved by US bishops in 1971 and revised in 1975.

Guidelines for Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities , approved June 1995.

A Decade after Economic Justice for All: Continuing Principles, Changing Context, New Challenges -- a pastoral message of the US National Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 1995. "The challenge of this pastoral letter is not merely to think differently, but also to act differently. A renewal of economic life depends on the conscious choices and commitments of individual believers who practice their faith in the world. This letter calls us to conversion and common action, to new forms of stewardship, service and citizenship."

Critique of the Cairo Draft Plan Cardinal William Keeler, June 23, 1994, unanimously endorsed by US Bishops. Link dead, not found via search.

Faithful for Life US Bishops Pro-Life Activities Committee, June 1995.

Walk in the Light: A Pastoral Response to Child Sexual Abuse issued by the US bishops' committees on Women in Society and in the Church, and their Committee on Marriage and Family.

Statement on Same Sex Marriage National Conference of Catholic Bisops, July 24, 1996.

Assisted Suicide amicus curiae brief filed by the USCC with the US Supreme Court in a Washington state case. Link dead, new copy not found.

Catholic Social Teaching and Environmental Ethics US Bishops pastoral letter

Faithful citizenship:civic responsibility for the new millennium ,

Statements of Other Bishops' Conferences [top]

El Espiritu Quiere Soplar en Cuba Pentecost message of the Cuban Bishops conference. In Spanish. Link dead, new copy not found.

Toward a More Just and Brotherly World pastoral letter of the Hungarian Bishops' Conference to the Faithful and all Men of Good Will on the State of the Hungarian Society. Available in English, German, and Hungarian.

Declaration of the Mexican Episcopal Conference on the Occasion of the Enforcement of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. Link dead, new copy not found.

Petition presented by the Vietnamese Bishops to Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet Sept 29, 1995, requests greater freedom of activity for the Church in Vietnam.

Excerpts from the Underground Bishops' Pastoral Letter given by the Chinese National Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops, in commemoration of the 700th anniversary of the missino of Blessed John of Monte Corvino, first Archbishop of Beijing.

The Information Highway Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops., March 1995

Civil Law and the Right to Life statement by Irish Catholic Conference.

To Live and Die in a Compassionate Community text of Canadian Bishops Conference position paper, October 26, 1994.

Foreign Armed Intervention Opposed pastoral letter of the bishops of Haiti, August 6, 1994. Link dead, new copy not found.

The Struggle Against Poverty: A Sign of Hope for Our World 1996 pastoral letter of the Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Link dead new copy not found.

The Common Good and the Catholic Church's Social Teaching -- pastoral letter of the Bishops of England and Wales. Link dead new copy not found.

Te Kahu-O-Te-Ora: A Consistent Ethic of Life -- statement from the New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference, April 18, 1997. Discussions tradition, the consistent ethic of life, integrity of creation, discrimination, poverty, the arms race, pace, abortion, euthanasia, death penalty.  Link dead, new copy not found.

Curial Documents and Statements  [top]

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, extensive compilation of authoritative texts and commentaries on the Church's social doctrine, arranged by topic.

Agrarian Reform document issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Solemnity of Christ the King, 1997.

Towards a Better Distribution of Land: The Challenge of Agrarian Reform Vatican Information Service press release of January 13, 1998 regarding this document issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Agrarian Reform document issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Solemnity of Christ the King, 1997.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Declaration on Procured Abortion Congregation for the Defense of the Faith, November 18, 1974.

Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, December 29, 1975. Link dead, Vatican copy not coming up.

Decree on Euthanasia , March 5, 1980, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Charter of the Rights of the Family presented by the Holy See to all persons, institutions, and authorities concerned with the mission of the family in today's world, October 22, 1983.

Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation" Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1984, signed by Cardinal Ratzinger

Final Report of the 1985 Extraordinary Synod

Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, March 22, 1986, liberation theology, freedom, poor.

Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons October 1, 1986, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, signed by Cardinal Ratzinger.

Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origins and on the Dignity of Procreation , Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith< February 22, 1987, biomedical research, fetal experimentation, fertilization, artificial fertilization, moral and civil law.

Letter of Cardinal Ratzinger on AIDS May 29, 1988, expressing Vatican concerns about statement released by US Catholic Conference's Administgrative Board entitled "The Many Faces of AIDS: A Gospel Response.

Pornography and Violence in the Media Pontifical Council for Social Communications, May 7, 1989.

On the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless Pontifical Commission Iustitia et Pax (Justice and Peace) (1991). Link dead, new one not found.

Some Considerations conerning the response to legislative proposals on non-discrimination of homosexual persons Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, July 22, 1992.

Christ, Faith, and the Challenge of Cultures Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, given in Hong Kong to the presidents of the Asian bishops' conferences and chairmen of their doctrinal commissions, March 1993.

Humanae Vitae 25 Years Later , Archbishop Vincenzo Gaiolo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, Sept 1, 1993.

Charter for Health Care Workers issued in 1994 by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance.

The Consecrated Life and its Role in the Church and in the World lineamata for the October 1994 World Synod of Bishops, by the Vatican Synod Secretariat.

Ethical and Pastoral Dimensions of Population Trends Pontifical Council for the Family, May 13, 1994, address problems linked to population growth, warns against contraceptive "imeprialism".

Fourth Instruction for the Right Application of the Conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, March 29, 1994.

The Presence of the Church in the University and in University Culture Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, and the pontifical councils for the Laity and for Culture, June 7, 1994.


Archbishop Renato Martino's Address to the UN Conference on Population , September 7, 1994.

World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen -- March 12, 1995, remarks of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Papal Secretary of State

The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality Pontifical Council for the Family Guidelines for Education within the Family, November 21, 1995.

The Eucharist and Freedom document of the Pontifical Committee for the International Eucharistic Congresses issued in 1996 in preparation for the 46th International Eucharistic Congress (Wroclaw Poland 1997). The Congress will reflect on the rich and stimulating theme of the Eucharist in relation to freedom at the close of a century which has witnessed the drama of entire nations being subjugated to totalitarian regimes.

The Family, the Heart of the Civilization of Love Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, speech to the tenth annual Conference of Women for Faith amd Family on the International Year of the Family.

Evangelium Vitae and the Pro-Life Movement Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, March 23, 1996, speech at Westminster Central Hall, London.

Familiaris Consortio and the Family Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, March 22, 1996, London.

Homily at Mass for Families Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, mass at meeting of the National Association of Catholic Families in London, March1996.

Relativism: Central Problem for Faith Today , by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, speech during meeting of the Congregation with the presidents of the Doctrinal Commissions of the Bishops' Conferences of Latin America, May 1996.

World Hunger: A Challenge for All, Development in Solidarity 1996 statement by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, signed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, papal Secretary of State

Encounter with the Living Jesus: Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity in America Lineamata for the Synod for America. 1996

A Call for Life and the Family conclusions prepared by the Second International Meeting of Politicians and Legislators of the Americas on the Dignity of the Family and Life in the Politics and Legislation of the Americas, Reflections in the Light of Evangelium Vitae, convened by the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Archbishop Renato Martino's Statement on Cairo given Sept 13, 1996 in Cairo Egypt to the plenary assembly of the UN Conference on Population and Development on its final day.

Family and Demography in Europe recommendations approved unanimously by the 70 participants in the third of a series of meetings on the family and demography held on various continents (Mexico City, 1993, Asia/ Taipei 1995). Bishops who were presidents of Commissions for the Family and representatives of Roman dicasteries met with experts in demography, economics, political science, theologians, moralists.

An Economy for the Family the Pontifical Council for the Family, March 6, 1996, Council brought together 60 experts on economic and social questions, at the conclusion of the meeting, the participants made the recommendations contained in this document.

Do Not Reduce African Aid Archbishop Renato Martino, Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the UN, speech to the plenary meeting of the 51st Session of the General Assembly

Holy See Not to Contribute to UNICEF in 1997 Press release from the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission to the UN

A Deceptive Compromise on Anti-Personnel Landmines Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, delegate of the Holy See, on the decision by the conference of state party to the convention on inhuman conventional weapons, April 22, 1997.

Episcopal Statements  [top]

letters, homilies, speeches, and documents by the bishops

To the People of God of Northern Colorado recent letter from Archbishop Chaput of Denver on family life.

Pastoral Message from the Bishops of England and Wales a call to conversion and renewal and the preferential option for the poor that calls for a New Covenant with the Poor.

Pastoral Letter to Priests Bishop Crispian Hollis, Portsmouth (England), report on experiences of observers representing the Diocese of Portsmouth during the elections in Cameroon, reports arbitrary arrests and torture of citizens for political purposes, unexplained disappearances and deaths, and concerns for the security of the people in general and Catholic missions, clergy, and religious in particular.

For Peace and Justice homily of Bishop David Thompson at the Mass for Peace and Justice honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Cathedral in Charleston (Jan 20

Marking the Beginning the Drugs Awareness Week a pastoral letter from Cardinal Thomas Winning, Archbishop of Glasgow.

A Prayer for America and Political Leaders Bishop Robert H. Brom, August 15, 1996

Pastoral Letter for Racial Justice Sunday 14 Sept 1997, Rt. Rev. Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth

A New Covenant with the Poor pastoral letter for Lent 1997, Rt. Rev. Crispian Holis, Bishop of Portsmouth

Good News of Great Joy Most Rev. Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, a pastoral letter on preaching Jesus Christ to all creation, December 24, 1997.

The Vocation of Marriage in God's Plan Archbishop J. Francis Stafford, address to the International Congress on the Family in Lima, Peru.

Time for Catholics to Act Bishops John J. Meyers, April 28, 1996, regarding Pres. Clinton's veto of ban on partial birth abortions.

Christmas Statement by Jerusalem Patriarch Archbishop Michael Sabbah, December 24, 1996.

Whoever is not with me is against Me Archbishop William Levada, Arhcdiocese of Portland, Oregon, addresses issue of pro-choice "catholic" politicians.

Bishops' Joint Statement on Haiti signed by presidents of the Bishops' Conferences of the US, Canada, and Latin America.

Death and Dying Issues Bishops James McHugh, Diocese of Camden, NJ, March 11, 1991.

Pastoral Letter of 1792, Bishop John Caroll instructs Catholics on the necessity of a Christian education for the young, first pastoral letter in the history of the Church in the US.

April is the Cruelist Month Archbishop J. Francis Stafford, May 12, 1996, Sprintime Reflections on three decisions regarding human life and dignity: veto by President Clinton of a partial birth abortion ba, invalidation of a Washington state law against assisted suicide by the US Court of Appeals, veto of legislation by Gov. Roy Romer that would have prohibited same sex marriages in Colorado.

Amicus Curiae brief filed by the US Catholic Conference with US Supreme Court in support of an appeal in an assisted suicide case from Washington state.

This Land is Home to Me -- 1975 pastoral letter issued by the bishops of Appalachia.

Welfare Reform and the Tradition of Social Justice -- April 5, 1996, statement by the eleven Catholic Bishops of Wisconsin.

Human Development: Abundance and Scarcity -- a pastoral letter on the economy of Northeast Nebraska.

Make Justice Your Aim -- a pastoral letter on poverty in Alabama, Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb of Mobile, and Bishop Raymond Boland of Birmingham in Alabama, December 8, 1990.

Church Roles and Church Dissent Archbishop Elden Curtiss, April 22, 1996, letter about Catholcs who support abortion and euthanasia.

Care of the Sick and Dying pastoral letter from the Bishops of Maryland, October 14, 1993.

Monograph on Capital Punishment -- 1994 document by the bishops of Syracuse, New York.

At Home in the Web of Life -- 1995 pastoral message on sustainable communities in Appalachia celebrating the 20th anniversary of "This Land is Home to Me", from the Catholic Bishops of Appalachia.

A Catholic Appeal: Leadership for the Common Good -- statement of the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal William Keeler, November 15, 1995.

The Flight to Egypt -- a statement on immigration from the seven Catholic Bishops of Florida, December 15, 1995.

Church Teaches that All Life is Valuable -- letter from Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis, January 4, 1996.

To Feed the Poor -- 1996 Lenten Message of Cardinal Roger Mahony. "The excuse for this policy shift is that hungry people are to blame for their situation, and if they would only take responsibility for themselves, get a job, and create an income -- then they would not find themselves in such distress. What is overlooked is that so many of our hungry sisters and brothers are people who are physically or mentally ill, disabled, recently unemployed because of job termination, or the victims of financial circumstances far beyond their control."

An Economy of Paradoxes -- Labor Day 1996 statement by Bishop William Skylstad, Chairman of the US Catholic Bishops' Domestic Policy Committee.

Introduction to the Catholic Framework for Economic Life -- statement by Bishop William Skylstad in introducing the Catholic Framework for Economic Life to the nation's Catholic bishops during their November 1996 meeting.

Good News in Hard Times -- homily of Most Rev. John McRaith, Bishop of Owensboro, Kentucky, at St. Michael Archangel Church, Cary, North Carolina, April 12, 1997. "How can we change those hard times for people? Certainly, there are many things that we can do in our activist way to change things. We can help organize; we can assist with start up money like CHD; we can give direct help to the hungry and homeless by way of our shelters and clinics; we can feed the hungry with our soup kitchens; we can strive to change laws. . . "

The Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor by Archbishop Samuel Carter, S.J, of Kingston, Jamaica, issued on Pentecost 1987 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Populorum Progressio. He says, "The main cause of poverty in Jamaica and in much of the rest of the world are to be found in the way the world is organized, in the economic, social, and political relations both within our society and within the global commuity. . . We must take action to root out the causes of poverty that dehumanize so many of our people."

You Have Entertained Angels -- Without Knowing It homily given October 9, 1993 at the Los Angeles Archdiocese's annual multi-ethnic Mass, by Cardinal Roger Mahony.


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