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John Paul II
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Key Writings of Pope John
ENCYCLICALS: Letters expressing the mind of the pope, generally
regarding matters of faith and morals.
Redemptor Hominis (March
Redemption: Cites God's promise of forgiveness as the key truth of the faith.
Dives in Misericordia
(Nov. 30, 1980)
God's mercy: Expresses God's closeness to mankind, especially during suffering
and threat to life and/or dignity.
Laborem Exercens (Sept.
Human work: Characterizes mankind relative to work, which is necessary for
"earning the daily bread" as well as social, scientific and moral life.
Slavorum Apostoli (June 2,
Apostles of the Slavs: Recalls Saints Cyril and Methodius, on the occasion of
the the 11th centenary of their evangelization work.
Dominum et Vivificantem
(May 18, 1986)
The Holy Spirit: Encourages the church to ponder the Trinitarian mystery of God.
Redemptoris Mater (March 25, 1987)
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (Dec. 30,
Social teaching: Reaffirms the church's social doctrine and its constant renewal
as it is subject to changing conditions of people and society.
Redemptoris Missio (Dec.
Evangelization: Seeks to renew the church by missionary activity and to
strengthen the faith of individuals by sharing it with others.
Annus (May 1, 1991)
Sociopolitical questions: Creates a framework with which to analyze the state of
the church and the world by looking back (to historic papal writings), looking
around the present and considering the promise and uncertainty of the future.
Veritatis Splendor (Aug.
The Splendor of Truth: In the face of criticism, reaffirms moral teachings of
the church and condemns dissent.
Evangelium Vitae (March
The Gospel of Life: Emphasizes the value and inviolability of human life and
reasserts church opposition to abortion and euthanasia.
Ut Unum Sint (May 25,
Christian unity: Calls for a new discussion among the Catholic Church and other
Christian bodies on the role of the pope, the mission of bishops and the
commitment and unity of their followers.
Fides et Ratio (Sept. 14,
Faith and reason: Discusses the intellectual relativism of our age, on the
relationship of faith and reason, of philosophy and theology.
Ecclesia de Eucharistia
(April 17, 2003)
The Eucharist: Stated rules for Holy Communion, including opposition to routine
concelebration of Mass with non-Catholics.
CONSTITUTIONS: Official governing acts of Pope John Paul II.
(April 15, 1979) Emphasizes the importance of Catholic universities in imparting
the growth of the church.
Sacrae Disciplinae Leges
(Jan. 25, 1983) Makes official the New Code of Canon Law and revises method for
church to name saints, eliminating the term "Devil's Advocate" from the process.
Pastor Bonus (June 28,
1988) Stated new rules governing the Roman Curia.
Ex Corde Ecclesiae (Aug. 15, 1990) Instructs Catholic
universities to seek truth without reservation, and requires theology professors
to obtain a mandatum, or teaching license, from the local bishop.
Fidei Depositum (Oct. 11,
1992) Makes official the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Universi Dominici Gregis
(Feb. 22, 1996) Creates new rules governing the election of the pope's
successor, allowing for a majority of cardinals to change the voting rules after
a certain point so that a majority can elect the pope rather than the customary
Of lesser authority than an encyclical, they may pertain to a doctrinal matter
or a papal act.
Salvifici Doloris (Feb.
11, 1984) On human suffering: Expresses understanding and respect for human
suffering and builds upon the needs of the human heart and the imperative of
(August 28, 1986) Anniversary of the conversion of St. Augustine: Celebrates
Augustine of Hippo and his impact on the church.
Mulieris Dinitatem (Aug.
15, 1988) The dignity of women: Speaks of the critical role of women in church
history and recognizes their growing presence in the church and in society.
Vicesimus Quintus Annus
(Dec. 4, 1988) 25th Anniversary of Vatican II: Recalls the historic constitution
and its reformation of the Roman Catholic Liturgy as needed for the "ever
increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful."
(May 22, 1994) Against the ordination of women: Restates that the church shall
not ordain women into the priesthood as it would not be in keeping with the
imitation of Jesus. Says "the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary ... received
neither the mission proper to the apostles nor the ministerial priesthood
clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean
that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination
Oreintale Lumen (May 2,
1995) The Light of the East: In an overture toward Orthodox and other Eastern
churches, John Paul urges both sides to "go beyond the degree of communion we
Laetamur Magnopere (Aug. 15, 1997)
Latin catechism: Announces the publication of the Latin version of the Catechism
of the Catholic Church.
Divini Amoris Scientia (Oct. 19,
1997) Proclaims St. Therese of Lisieux a Doctor of the church.
Dies Domini (May 31, 1998)
Importance of Sunday: Describes Sundays as key to the identity of a Christian
and of the church, and stresses the importance of attending Sunday Mass.
Novo Millennio Ineunte
(Jan. 6, 2001) The Millennium Begins: Sets course for Catholicism, saying the
church should promote fundamental human rights, continue interreligious
dialogue, and act to prevent ecological crisis.
Rosarium Virginis Mariae
(Oct. 16, 2002) Announced a yearlong emphasis on the rosary, suggesting ways to
pray the rosary that lead to contemplation of the mysteries of Christ. Adds five
new events from Christ's life -- "the Mysteries of Light" -- to the rosary.
By Pope John Paul II
Crossing the Threshold of Hope
The Jeweler's Shop Ignatius Press (June
Love and Responsibility Ignatius Press;
Rev. ed edition (April 1, 1993).
The Way to Christ : Spiritual Exercises
Harper, San Francisco (October 7, 1994).