Hope this is the right forum. Are encyclicals infallable? I know CCC isn’t.

The CCC as a corporate, whole document, is not infallible. However, it does *contain *loads and loads of infallible teaching. Particular encyclicals may or may not be infallible.

The declarative statements of an encyclical released for the entire Church (where it is evident that the Pope wants to definitively teach) are infallible as I understand. The arguments presented for the statements and the speculations in it are not infallible and it is not required for them to be free of error for the definitive teachings to be infallible.

In general, all teachings on faith and morals from the Ordinary magesterium of the Church and the Pope for the Universal Church are considered doctrine and infallible. All doctrine is infallible and declaring them as dogma merely states that they are part of the deposit of directly revealed truths.

My next question you hit on. What is dogma? You say “deposit of directly revealed truths” how do they come about this? Is what you’re talking about like the “deposit of faith” ? From the Apostles/Jesus?

Ok in particular, what about the pope’s first encyclical about faith? Is it infallable and if so what about it wouldn’t be?

The question misses the point. Both encyclicals and the Catechism contain the teaching of the Catholic Church. In addition to doctrine, encylcals will contain instructions and advice of a more pastoral or disiplinary nature. None of it is optional, though some of the encylcals apply to situations in the day they were written which may not be of importance today.

I think this implies to all encyclicals. In and of themselves, they are not infallible, but they can contain infallible teaching, whether old and already taught or newly more defined.

I think this answer by EWTN should cover most of the questions you asked :slight_smile:


To quote the part on Dogma, “Dogmas, therefore, are those doctrines solemnly proposed by the Church as formally revealed in Scripture or Tradition. This may have been done by papal pronouncement (Pius IX: Immaculate Conception), by a General Council (Chalcedon: Christ is two natures in one Divine Person), or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (killing an innocent human being is gravely immoral).”

So when the Church proclaims Dogma, you are witnessing the practice of the highest authority given to the Church as well as the Holy Spirit in action. A Dogma is like the set of core axioms that have been extracted from Scripture and Tradition on which all other doctrine is derived from or based on.

Father John Hardon’s 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.

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