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  #1  
Old Jun 13, '13, 2:29 am
Msecc27 Msecc27 is offline
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Default difference between Papal Encyicals, Apostolic Constitutions, motu proprios and Papal Bulls

Hi

What's the difference between Papal Encyicals, Apostolic Constitutions, motu proprios and Papal Bulls?

I'm sure I'm missing other kinds of Papal documents, but when is each one used what difference circumstances are they used under?

Thanks
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  #2  
Old Jun 13, '13, 2:46 am
thistle thistle is offline
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

Quote:
Originally Posted by Msecc27 View Post
Hi

What's the difference between Papal Encyicals, Apostolic Constitutions, motu proprios and Papal Bulls?

I'm sure I'm missing other kinds of Papal documents, but when is each one used what difference circumstances are they used under?

Thanks
Modern Catholic Dictionary:

ENCYCLICAL. A papal document treating of matters related to the general welfare of the Church, sent by the Pope to the bishops. Used especially in modern times to express the mind of the Pope to the people. Although of themselves not infallible documents, encyclicals may (and generally do) contain pronouncements on faith and morals that are de facto infallible because they express the ordinary teaching of the Church. In any case, the faithful are to give the papal encyclicals their interior assent and external respect as statements of the Vicar of Christ. (Etym. Latin encyclicus; Greek enkyklios, circular, general.)

An encyclical epistle is like an encyclical letter but addressed to part of the Church, that is, to the bishops and faithful of a particular area. Its contents may be doctrinal, moral, or disciplinary matters of universal significance, but may also commemorate some historical event or treat of conditions in a certain country or locality.


APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS. Collection of ecclesiastical laws from the fourth century. Their most important part is the set of eighty-five canons, attributed to the Apostles, dealing with ordinations, official responsibilities, and the moral behavior of bishops and priests. They eventually became the basis for canon law in the West.

MOTU PROPRIO. Words used in rescripts drawn up and issued by a pope on his own initiative, and not conditioned by any petitionary requests. The documents are always signed personally by a pope.

BULL, PAPAL. The most solemn and weighty form of papal letter. The name is derived from the Latin bulla, the disklike leaden seal attached to such a document. It is used by the Pope in appointing a bishop. Formerly all papal letters of major importance, including canonization decrees, were called bulls, but the current Acta Apostolicae Sedis gives some of these papal letters various names.
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Old Jun 13, '13, 3:14 am
Msecc27 Msecc27 is offline
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

But Pope Pius XII issued Apostolic Constitution in 1953 on fasting requirements in the Church: Christus Dominus?
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Old Jun 13, '13, 5:07 am
thistle thistle is offline
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

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Originally Posted by Msecc27 View Post
But Pope Pius XII issued Apostolic Constitution in 1953 on fasting requirements in the Church: Christus Dominus?
Why do you mention this specifically?
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  #5  
Old Jun 13, '13, 5:35 am
Eufrosnia Eufrosnia is offline
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

Quote:
Originally Posted by thistle View Post
Why do you mention this specifically?
I am not sure why he/she mentioned it but I have a question . From your definition of Apostolic Constitution, it would seem that the Apostolic Constitution is something fixed in the past and not something new i.e. as you said, a basis. So what does it mean to issue such a thing in 1953 if it had already been the basis of Canon law? Would it not have to be called a canon law rather than an Apostolic Constitution?
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  #6  
Old Jun 13, '13, 6:26 am
Msecc27 Msecc27 is offline
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

Quote:
Originally Posted by thistle View Post
Why do you mention this specifically?
I was mentioning this one in particular as it was the only Apostolic Constitution I could think of, off the top of my head. If one was released in 1953, that must mean they are still being used or were until recently, but what I was wonder was when and why are they used today, if they are used today?
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  #7  
Old Jun 13, '13, 6:37 am
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Joe 5859 Joe 5859 is offline
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

Quote:
Originally Posted by Msecc27 View Post
I was mentioning this one in particular as it was the only Apostolic Constitution I could think of, off the top of my head. If one was released in 1953, that must mean they are still being used or were until recently, but what I was wonder was when and why are they used today, if they are used today?
Apostolic Constitutions are still published today. A more recent example would be Pope Benedict's document laying the framework for the Anglican ordinariate, which provides for Anglican/Episcopalian parishes to convert to the Catholic Church en masse and still retain some parts of their Anglican tradition.

I have found it helpful to just browse the Vatican website and look at what types of documents fall under each category. Pope John Paul II would be a good pope to start with as he served for so long and was fairly prolific. Thus he gives a good number of each type of document to give you a better sense of what the definitions Thistle posted look like in practice. Just look at the menu on the left-hand side of the page and it lists all the types of documents. They don't really do papal bulls anymore.
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  #8  
Old Jun 13, '13, 6:45 am
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

I just recently did a presentation in which these points were discussed. From my powerpoint:

There are primarily five ways that church teachings are INITIALLY promulgated:

1. Apostolic Constitutions
2. Papal Bulls
3. Encyclicals
4. Motu Proprium
5.Pastoral Letters
Generally, in order of authority.
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Last edited by SMOM; Jun 13, '13 at 6:59 am.
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  #9  
Old Jun 13, '13, 6:46 am
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

An apostolic constitution represents a very solemn pronouncement issued by the Pope or an Ecumenical Council on a doctrinal or disciplinary question.
For example, Pope Paul VI’s apostolic constitution Missale Romanum (1969) promulgated for the whole Church the new missal to be used at Mass. Vatican II issued four(4) Constitutions: Dei Verbum (Divine Revelation), Lumen Gentium (Church), Sacrosanctum Concilium (Liturgy), and Gaudium et Spes (Modern World).
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  #10  
Old Jun 13, '13, 6:46 am
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

A papal “bull” is a very dramatic way of presenting a solemn pronouncement. Written on parchment, a lead seal (bulla) is attached with cords of silk. On one side of the seal would be the image of the reigning pope, and the other side would bear the images of St. Peter and St. Paul. For example, the dogma of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother was issued through Munificentissimus Deus (1950) in the form of a papal bull.
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  #11  
Old Jun 13, '13, 6:46 am
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

Broader in scope and less solemn, an encyclical denotes a pastoral letter written by the Holy Father for the entire Church. This document focuses on a pastoral issue concerning a matter of doctrine, morality, devotion, or discipline. (The official title of an encyclical is generally the first two or three words of the text’s Latin translation, the official language of issuance.)
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  #12  
Old Jun 13, '13, 6:47 am
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

Even less authoritative, a motu propriois a document issued by the Pope on his own initiative and personally signed by him.
When issued by the Pope, a motu proprio may be addressed to the whole Church, to part of it, or to some individuals.
It continues to be a common form of Papal rescripts, especially when establishing institutions, making minor changes to law or procedure, and when granting favors to persons or institutions
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  #13  
Old Jun 13, '13, 6:47 am
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

Just as the Pope holds universal teaching authority for the whole Church throughout the world, a bishop may write a pastoral letter to instruct the faithful of his diocese. Vatican II stated, “[The Bishops] are authentic teachers… endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people assigned to them, the faith which is destined to inform their thinking and direct their conduct” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #25). Like the encyclical, the subject matter may be doctrinal, moral, devotional, or disciplinary
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Old Jun 13, '13, 6:48 am
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

Hope that helps
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Old Jun 13, '13, 7:19 am
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Default Re: Papal Decrees and Documents

For the record, a Bull is just a physical form of a document.

A Bull is large, fancy, has decorations all over the edges, and looks very "illuminated." Well, modernish ones do.

versus

A Brief is smaller, less fancy, has less decoration.
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