What is encyclical?
What Does encyclical Mean
In order to know the meaning of the term encyclical, it is necessary, first of all, to discover its etymological origin. In this case, we can underline that it derives from the Greek, exactly from “enkyklios”, which means “letter written by the Pope for his religious environment” and that it is the result of the sum of the following components:
-The prefix “en-”, which can be translated as "within".
-The noun “kyklos”, which is synonymous with “circle”.
The term is used to refer to a solemn communication that the pope makes to bishops and Catholics in general.
Originally, encyclicals were letters that a bishop sent to the various churches in a region. Currently, in the framework of the Catholic Church , the concept is usually associated with a writing released by the pope to present a vision or a thought on some important matter.
There is, however, no exact definition of papal encyclicals , since the pope's letters and communiqués can be classified differently. In general, an encyclical deals with a priority issue at a given time.
Pope Francis , for example, presented his first encyclical in July 2013: "Lumun fidei" , translated as "The light of faith . " In it he reflects on faith , structuring the content in an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion.
Francis ' second encyclical was “Laudato si'” (or “Praise you” ), presented in May 2015. In this six-chapter letter, the pope calls to protect the environment and life, criticizing consumerism.
Among the popes who wrote the most encyclicals are Pius XII (author of 41 encyclicals), Pius XI (30 encyclicals), John Paul II (14 encyclicals) and Benedict XV (13 encyclicals). It should be noted that the encyclicals are published by the Vatican Publishing House , although currently they can also be read on the Internet .
In addition to all the above, there is another important series of data of interest about the encyclicals, such as the following:
-The first encyclical on record was written in the 18th century. Specifically, it was drawn up in 1766 by the then Pope, Benedict XIV.
-It is considered that they are the most important documents that the Supreme Pontiff carries out.
-They have their origin in the well-known epistles of the “New Testament”.
-As a general rule, they are usually written in Latin, since it is the official language of the Holy See. However, that does not mean that they are later translated into other languages.
-The Pope who did not get to write any encyclical was John Paul I, since 33 days after being appointed Supreme Pontiff he died.
-Although the Catholic Church makes mention of them to refer to the documents made by the Pope, the truth is that both in the Anglican and in the Eastern Orthodox the term is used with the meaning it had in its origins. That is, they use it as a synonym for a letter or circular sent to all the churches in a specific area.