Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Important Papal Encyclicals

I received the following e-mail request:
I'd like to read all the major encyclicals by every pope from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI. It's pretty easy for me to figure out which encyclicals from John XXIII on are important -- but I need some help with those from Pius XII back to Leo XIII. A reading list would be most appreciated, but so would any sort of help.
My response:
Here is my list, for what its worth, of the best of the best. These are ones that had significant impact on theology or the life of the Church. Others might have been as intrinsically valuable. Also, not all the most important writings were encyclicals!

Aeterni Patris (1879), on the renewal of Thomistic Studies
Rerum Novarum (1891), on social teachings
Providentissimus Deus (1893), on the study of Sacred Scripture
Divinum Illud Munus (1897), on the Holy Spirit

Pius X:
Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907), on Modernism

Pius XI:
Casti Cannubi (1930), on marriage and sexual relations.
Quadragesimo Anno (1931), on social teachings
Mit Brennender Sorge (1937), on totalitarianism in Germany

Piux XII:
Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943), on biblical studies
Mystici Corporis Christi (1943), on the Church
Mediator Dei (1947), on the liturgy
Humani Generis (1950), on the origins of mankind
[note the way and extent to which these four anticipate Vatican II]
Haurietis Aquas (1956), on the Sacred Heart

Mater et Magister (1961), on social doctrine
Pacem in Terris (1963), on war and peace

Paul VI:
Ecclesiam Suam (1964), on the Church
Mysterium Fidei (1965), on the Holy Eucharist
Populorum Progressio (1967), social teachings
Humanae Vitae (1968), I'm sure you know what this one is about

John Paul II:
[Where to begin?]
Redemptor Hominis (1979), Christ
Dives in Misericordia (1980), God the Father
Laborem Exercens (1981), work
Dominum et Vivificantem (1986), God the Holy Spirit
Redemptoris Mater (1987), Mary
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987), social teachings
Redemptoris Missio (1990), missionary activity
Centesimus Annus (1991), social teachings
Veritatis Splendor (1993), moral theology
Evangelium Vitae (1995), life issues
Ut Unum Sint (1995), unity with the Eastern Churches
Fides et Ratio (1998), faith and reason
Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003), the Eucharist

Note: all are available on the Vatican web page.


Jeff Vehige said...

Robert -

Thanks for this list.

Since you brought it up, I'll ask, What are the most important papal writings that are not encyclicals?

Robert said...

Ha! Have you got a decade? Let me sit on this a while. I think you probably have your hands full for the time being!