The Papacy: Pope Francis

His Holiness Pope Francis
Elected Supreme Pontiff, Bishop of Rome on March 13, 2013
Installed on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, 2013

He is the first Pope from the New World & from Latin America
He is the first Pope from the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
He is the first Pope to take the name of Francis (St. Francis of Assisi)


Official Biography of Pope Francis

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an Ordinary of their own rite, was born on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires. He studied as and holds a degree as a chemical technician, but then chose the priesthood and entered the seminary of Villa Devoto. On 11 March 1958 he moved to the novitiate of the Company of Jesus where he finished studies in the humanities in Chile. In 1963, on returning to Buenos Aires, he obtained a degree in philosophy at the St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel.

Between 1964 and 1965 he taught literature and psychology at the Immacolata College in Santa Fe and then in 1966 he taught the same subjects at the University of El Salvador, in Buenos Aires.

From 1967 to 1970 he studied theology at the St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel where he obtained a degree. On 13 December 1969 he was ordained a priest. From 1970 to 1971 he completed the third probation at Alcala de Henares, Spain, and on 22 April 1973, pronounced his perpetual vows.

He was novice master at Villa Varilari in San Miguel from 1972 to 1973, where he also taught theology. On 31 July 1973 he was elected as Provincial for Argentina, a role he served as for six years.

From 1980 to 1986 he was rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel as well as pastor of the Patriarca San Jose parish in the Diocese of San Miguel. In March of 1986 he went to Germany to finish his doctoral thesis. The superiors then sent him to the University of El Salvador and then to Cordoba where he served as a confessor and spiritual director.

On 20 May 1992, John Paul II appointed him titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires. He received episcopal consecration in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires from Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Apostolic Nuncio Ubaldo Calabresi, and Bishop Emilio Ognenovich of Mercedes-Lujan on 27 June of that year.

On 3 June 1997 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires and succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on 28 February 1998.

He was Adjunct Relator General of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 2001.

He served as President of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina from 8 November 2005 until 8 November 2011.

He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Blessed John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001, of the Title of S. Roberto Bellarmino (St. Robert Bellarmine).

He was a member of:

The Congregations for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments; for the Clergy; and for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life;

The Pontifical Council for the Family; and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.


Catechesis on the Papacy
Core Theology on the Papacy
from the Archdiocese of Washignton, D.C. website


A Resource for Catechesis for Understanding Pope Benedict’s Decision to Renounce theMinistry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter

The following information pertains to three general areas of catechesis in preparation for the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 28, 2013. The first area, "The Petrine Ministry, the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter" deals with the unique office of the Roman Pontiff in the life of the Church. The second area, "The Present Pontiff," attempts to acquaint the faithful with aspects of the personal life and vocation of Pope Benedict XVI, as well as his service prior to his election as Supreme Pontiff. The third area, "The Pope as Bishop," presents the office of the Supreme Pontiff, and the College of Bishops in union with him. It emphasizes areas of ministry and authority exercised by the Pope. These resources rely upon Scripture, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, Canon Law and secondary sources.

CATECHESIS I: The Office of the Pope, Successor of Peter

1. What are some of the scriptural references to St. Peter and his ministry?

Some of the scriptural references to St. Peter and his ministry include:

Matthew 16:16-19

Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

John 21:15-19

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." [Jesus] said to him, "Feed my sheep." Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

Mark 3:16

[he appointed the Twelve:] Simon, whom he named Peter…

Mark 9:2

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them.

Luke 22:31-32

Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.

Luke 24:34

…who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"

1 Corinthians 15:5

…that he appeared to Kephas, then to the Twelve.

2. What is the mission Jesus entrusted to Peter and the other disciples?

Jesus, the Son of God, is the One sent by the Father. Jesus has a twofold mission: to reveal the Father’s love and the forgiveness of sins. Many people followed Jesus and were called "disciples." The word "disciple" means "learner." Jesus called twelve of his disciples and appointed them as his Apostles. The word "Apostle" means "one who is sent." The Twelve Apostles are distinguished by a fourfold criterion: 1) the apostle received a call from Christ to be an Apostle; 2) the apostle received a commission from Christ to preach in his name as an Apostle; 3) the apostle was an eyewitness to the public ministry of Jesus with the special feature of "dwelling with the Lord" (this criterion is suspended for the apostleship of St. Paul); 4) and the apostle is a witness to the resurrected Jesus.

The Apostles form a "college" of those who by office of the Apostle share in the mission of Jesus. In appointing the Apostles, Jesus established them with a unique office in his Church. He also gave them the command to continue his mission, saying, "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you"1 and he promised to remain with them until the end of the world.2

Already in the New Testament, the office of Apostle is transmitted to the successors of the Apostles the bishops, as seen in Matthew 28:16-20, the Great Commission. The Apostolic Succession continues through to the current day in the college of bishops who as pastors govern the Church in virtue of their unity with the head of the college, the pope.

3. The office of bishop is divided into three powers or functions. What are they?

The three functions or offices into which the office of bishop is divided are the powers/functions of teaching, governing and sanctifying.

4. Why do we call the Pope the Vicar of Christ?

Jesus gave an office uniquely to St. Peter, the first of the Apostles, to be transmitted to the Successors of St. Peter. A vicar is someone who stands in the place of another. Peter was chosen by the Lord himself to be his vicar. He was not elected by the other Apostles to preside over the Church. Jesus Christ specifically prayed for Peter. Now, the cardinals, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, seek to choose the man whom the Lord has destined to be the next Pope.

5. What do we mean by the term "the power of the keys"?

The Lord gave an office uniquely to St. Peter. The "power of the keys" entrusted to him3 represents this authority.4 By virtue of his office the Pope possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.

6. Why do we call the Pope the Servant of the Servants of God?

The Pope is the head of the College of Bishops. He serves those who serve. When Christ bestowed special gifts on Peter, these were not to be considered or used as special privileges for his own benefit; rather, these special gifts were to be a means of serving others. The Pope’s life is spent in imitation of Jesus who came to serve and not to be served.

7. Why do we call the Pope the Holy Father?

Catholics (and even non-Catholics) refer to the Pope as "Holy Father" or "his Holiness" because these terms reminds us that the Pope is the universal pastor of the Church, into which Christ wants to gather all the children of God into one (cf. John 11:52). The Pope’s office has an objective sanctity about it, flowing from its divine institution. 5

8. How many Popes have there been in the history of the Church, including the present Pope?

Including our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, there have been 266 Popes in the history of the Church.

9. What do we mean by "Apostolic Succession"?

Apostolic Succession refers to the handing on of apostolic preaching and authority from Apostles to their successors, the bishops by the laying on of hands. The office of bishop is a permanent office in the Church. Apostolic succession is the transmission, by means of the sacrament of Holy Orders, of the office and power of the Apostles to their successors, the bishops. Thanks to the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Church remains in communion of faith and life throughout the ages, while she carries on the mission of Christ. Reference to Apostolic Succession can be traced back to the New Testament. Reference to it can also be found in the earliest writings of the Fathers of the Church - in Clement of Rome’s Epistle to

10. Name the Popes who reigned during the 20th & 21st century.

The Popes who reigned during the twentieth century include Leo XIII, who reigned as Pope from 1878 to 1903; St. Pius X, who reigned from 1903 to 1914; Benedict XV, who reigned from 1914 to 1922; Pius XI, who reigned from 1922 to 1939; Pius XII, who reigned from 1939 to 1958; Blessed John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963; Paul VI, who reigned from 1963 to 1978; John Paul I, who reigned as Pope for only thirty-three days in 1978; Blessed John Paul II, who reigned from 1978 to 2005, Pope Benedict XVI, who reigned from 2005 to 2013.

11. Why do we say that the Pope is the visible source and foundation of unity?

This statement is taken from one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium, 23). The Pope, that is, the Bishop of Rome and Successor of St. Peter, is "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful."8 This refers to the fact that by the decision of Christ, St. Peter is charged with confirming the faith of the brethren. Papal teaching through the centuries has proclaimed the faith of the Church and has been the center of unity and peace in guarding the truth of Christ.

12. Why does the Pope permanently reside in Rome?

Since the Pope is the successor of Saint Peter who was the Bishop of Rome, he like Saint Peter lives in Rome. Rome is also the city where both Saints Peter and Paul were martyred.

13. What is Vatican City?

The State of Vatican City is the territorial seat of the papacy. It happens to be the smallest sovereign state in the world. Situated within the city of Rome, it embraces an area of 108.7 acres. Within its limits one finds the following buildings: the Vatican Palace, museums, art galleries, libraries, a radio station, post office, bank, astronomical observatory, offices, apartments, service facilities, St. Peter’s Basilica, and neighboring buildings between the Basilica and the Viale Vaticano. The extraterritorial rights of Vatican City extend to more than ten buildings (including the major basilicas and office buildings of various congregations of the Roman Curia) and to the papal villas at Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Holy Father that is located fifteen miles southeast of the City of Rome.

14. When did Vatican City become an independent country?

For many hundreds of years the Pope ruled the Papal States, 16,000 square miles of land across the central section of Italy. With the exception of the areas surrounding the Vatican, the Church of the Lateran Basilica in Rome and the Villas of Castel Gandolfo, these lands were seized from the Pope in 1870 by the kingdom of Italy and became part of the nation in 1871. Controversy occasioned by the seizure of this land and the voluntary confinement of the Pope to the Vatican was settled with the ratification of the Lateran Agreement on June 7, 1929 by the Italian government and Vatican City. This is when Vatican City became formally recognized as an independent country.

15. What is the Magisterium of the Church?

The Magisterium of the Church is the living, teaching office of the Church, whose task it is to give an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form (Sacred Scripture) or in the form of Tradition. The Magisterium ensures the Church’s fidelity to the teaching of the Apostles in matters of faith and morals.9

16. What does the term "papal infallibility" mean, and when does the Pope teach infallibly?

Infallibility, which is a charism, has been defined as "a certain inability to err in believing or teaching revealed truth." Infallibility is exercised when the Roman Pontiff, in virtue of his office as the Supreme Pastor of the Church, by which he enjoys a special gift of the Holy Spirit, and as head of the College of Bishops in union with him and especially when joined together in an Ecumenical Council, proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. Infallibility is also exercised when the Pope and bishops in their ordinary Magisterium are in agreement in proposing a doctrine as definitive. Every one of the faithful must adhere to such teaching with obedience of faith.

17. Who was the last Pope to resign before Pope Benedict XVI?

The last pope to step down was Gregory XII, who did so in 1415 in order to end the Great Western Schism. Prior to Gregory XII, at the end of the 13th century, a very holy hermit named Peter was elected as Pope Celestine V in order to break a deadlock in the conclave that had lasted nearly three years. He was elected because of his personal holiness, sort of a unity candidate. And once he got there, being a hermit, not used to the ways of the Roman Curia, he found himself somewhat unsuited to the task, that it was not just holiness but also some shrewdness and prudence that was also required. So within six months he knew that he was really unequal to the task, and so he gathered the cardinals together in a consistory, and he announced to the cardinals his intention to resign, because of the Pope's position as the supreme authority in the Church, Celestine declared that the Pope could freely resign, that it was permissible.

CATECHESIS II: The Pope as Bishop

1. Why do we call the Pope the Bishop of Rome?

Every diocesan bishop, in distinction to an auxiliary bishop and the bishop of a personal prelature, is the chief pastor or local ordinary of a portion of the people of God territorially defined, which is referred to as a diocese. Thus, the term "Bishop of Rome" refers to the diocesan bishop who is the chief pastor or ordinary of the city of Rome as well as surrounding areas included within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Diocese of Rome.

Strictly speaking, the Pope is the Bishop of Rome in that he has all ordinary, proper and immediate power that is required for the exercise of his pastoral function within the territorial limits of the Diocese of Rome. However, the Bishop of Rome is also the successor of St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, to whom the Lord uniquely entrusted the Power of the Keys. The Pope’s title as Bishop of Rome is pre-eminent over all the other titles of the Pope, such as head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and the pastor of the universal Church on earth, because all these additional titles are derived from his authority as Bishop of Rome.

Pope Francis's coat of arms bears witness to the fact that the Pope is first and foremost the Bishop of Rome. The personal coats of arms of all prior Roman pontiffs were situated on a background that bore the image of the papal tiara and the crossed keys. Pope Francis has replaced the tiara with a mitre, the traditional symbol of the office of bishop.

2. What is the Pope’s cathedral church?

Every diocesan bishop has a cathedral, a designated church building where the bishop’s chair, the sign of his episcopal authority, is prominently situated. The term "cathedral" is derived from the Latin word cathedra, which means "chair," specifically the chair that symbolizes the rank of diocesan bishop.

While most people think of St. Peter’s Basilica as the Pope’s church, it is not his cathedral. The Pope’s cathedral is the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran. Shortly after his inauguration asA distinction is sometimes made between a "diocese" and an "archdiocese." The latter is used to designate a diocese, which has a particular status in terms of the size of the Catholic population, its historical import or its designation as the capital of a country. There is no canonical difference between them. Thus, a "bishop" has no less power or authority than does an "archbishop." One would think that, given the particular historical prominence of Rome, it would be considered an archdiocese. However, by long tradition Rome is spoken of as a diocese. The Pope is therefore the "bishop" and not the "archbishop" of Rome.  

3. What do we mean by the term "hierarchy?"

The term "hierarchy" refers to an ordered ranking of levels of authority in a particular organization. As for the Church, it is constituted as a hierarchy by the Lord himself in his naming Peter as the rock or the foundation upon whom His Church is built.33 To him and to his successors the Lord entrusted the governance of that Church by conferring upon them the Power of the Keys. Thus, the Church is a hierarchical organization of the People of God under the direction of the Pope and the college of bishops.35 It is important to understand that, constituted in this way by the Lord himself, the Church is not free to replace its hierarchical structure with any other kind of structure.

4. What is the nature of the relationship between Pope Francis and the bishops of the Catholic Church?

The relationship between Pope Francis and the bishops of the Catholic Church is identical to the relationship between St. Peter and the other Apostles. The gospels speak of the Apostles as "the Twelve," indicating a corporate identity. Jesus Christ "constituted them in the form of a college or permanent assembly at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them. Just as by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another."

The Power of the Keys, the office of binding and loosing, while given primarily to Peter, was also given to the other members of the Twelve. It is to all the Apostles, together with Peter, that the Lord gives the mission to "go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." The pastoral office of Peter and the other Apostles is the very foundation of the Church and is continued today by the bishops under the primacy of Pope Francis.

The primacy of Peter as head of the Apostles is shown very concretely in another aspect of the Pope’s relationship with his bishops. It was Christ who called the apostles and instituted them as the college of bishops. Thus, Francis, particularly in his role as the Vicar of Christ on earth, calls those who are to be bishops and appoints them as members of the college of bishops. Only the Pope, as head of the college of bishops, can act as Christ’s Vicar, appointing successors to the original Apostles.

Just as the Pope is the visible source and foundation of unity for the universal Church, individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of their own particular Churches or dioceses. These particular Churches are not "branch offices" of the universal Church, nor should the universal Church be considered as simply the sum, or the federation of all the particular Churches. Rather, a diocese "constitutes a particular Church in which the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and operative." Since the bishops of particular churches are constituted as a college, each bishop shares the Pope’s concern for all the Churches.

5. What is an ecumenical council?

An ecumenical council is a gathering of the entire college of bishops, convoked and presided over by the Pope. It is in the gathering of an ecumenical council that the bishops of the Church, acting in union with the Pope, exercise supreme authority over the entire universal Church. The matters to be discussed are at the discretion of the Holy Father, although individual bishops ("council fathers") can suggest agenda items if approved by the Pope. All the bishops, and only the bishops, can participate in an ecumenical council with voting rights. The last ecumenical council was the Second Vatican Council, convened in 1962 by Pope John XXIII and was concluded in 1965 under Pope Paul VI. Vatican II brought about sweeping reforms and renovations in almost every aspect of the Church’s understanding of her role in the world, its governance and organizational structures, its legal statutes and norms, and its liturgical practice.

6. What is the threefold mission of Christ that the Pope and all bishops exercise?

Through baptism, every member of the Christian faithful is anointed into the three-fold ministry of Jesus Christ as priest, prophet and king. Lay members of the Christian faithful exercise this threefold ministry in a variety of ways. Parents, in particular, are charged with the responsibility of raising their children in the practice of the faith so as to let the grace of baptism bear fruit. They, like all the faithful, share in the common priesthood of Jesus Christ and thus must make all the sacrifices necessary so that their children may "keep the flame of faith alive in their hearts."42 They exercise the prophetic or teaching ministry of Jesus by praying with their children and preparing them for reception of the sacraments. The kingly ministry of Jesus is to be understood as his role as Servant King, and thus parents are to set the example for what it means to serve the needs of others.

For bishops, each of these ministries of Jesus is raised to the dignity of an office. This is clear  from the Lord’s commission to the apostles, authorizing them to "go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."43 This charge is made explicit in the rite of ordination of bishops as successors of the Apostles: "Attend to the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit appoints you an overseer of the Church of God—in the name of the Father, whose image you personify in the Church—and in the name of the Son whose role of Teacher, Prophet and Shepherd you undertake—and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the Church of Christ and supports out weakness with his strength."  Jesus entrusted his triple ministry to the Church. The ministries are usually termed the teaching office, the sanctifying office and the governing office of the Church.

7. How do bishops exercise the office of teaching?

The Roman Pontiff exercises the threefold office of teaching, sanctifying and governing the universal Church. Appointed by the Roman Pontiff, bishops exercise of these offices within their respective dioceses or particular Churches. The first task of a bishop is to preach the Gospel to all peoples in keeping with the command of Jesus himself.46 The Catechism, using words from Lumen Gentium, describes the bishop as "‘heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers’ of the apostolic faith ‘endowed with the authority of Christ.’" The bishops exercise their teaching office in union with the Roman Pontiff. The bishops must be united with the Roman Pontiff who is head of the college of bishops. When the bishops, as a body are united with the Successor of St. Peter they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council.

Bishops exercise the office of teaching through preaching the homily during the celebration of the Eucharist, and during other sacramental liturgies. Bishops also teach through the proclamation of pastoral letters, and articles in the diocesan newspaper. Every address that a bishop may deliver through various means of social communication is an opportunity to exercises his teaching office. The bishop is the first teacher of all those entrusted to his pastoral care.

The bishop invites priest to collaborate with him in his ministry, in particular as pastors of parishes. The deacon is called to assist the bishop through the ministry of the Word and service of charity.  The bishop, through the parish pastor, may call the lay faithful to service as catechists and to various works of service for which the faithful are prepared through the reception of Baptism and Confirmation. The bishop has a particular role in overseeing education on the primary, secondary, graduate levels and beyond.

8. How do bishops exercise the office of sanctifying?

The bishop fulfills the office of sanctifying primarily through the sacred Liturgy as an exercise of the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ, in particular through the celebration of the sacraments. All worship in the Church is a participation in the priestly ministry of Christ, and is carried out by the Head and members of the mystical Body of Christ.

The bishop is the "high priest and principal dispenser of the mysteries of God." When the bishop celebrates the Eucharist, the "source and summit of all worship and Christian life," he presents the unity of the Church in a vivid manner. Also proper to the diocesan bishop is the publication of liturgical norms, which bind everyone in his territory including religious houses, oratories and private chapels.

Priests, as fellow workers with the bishop, share in the bishop’s sanctifying office. The bishop sends his priests to be ministers of the sacraments, in particular in the Eucharist. Deacons assist the priest in the ministering the sacraments. It is the Eucharist, in which the bishop is the celebrant, surrounded by his presbyters and joined by the deacons and the Christian faithful, that both signifies and effects the unity of the People of God and brings about the building up of the Body of Christ.

The Roman Pontiff oversees the liturgy of the Church. Members of the curia assist him with promulgations of norms regarding the liturgical celebrations, the publication of liturgical books, the reviewing and approving of the translation of liturgical books into vernacular languages, and insuring that liturgical norms are observed faithfully throughout the Church.

9. How do bishops carry out the office of governing?

By virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff possesses "supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely." The college of bishops as successors of the apostles, and in union with the pope as Head of the College assists the pope in the governing office of the Church. Diocesan bishops and local ordinaries govern the particular Churches assigned to them by the Pope.

By reason of their appointment from the Holy Father, diocesan bishops possess all the necessary, ordinary and immediate power to govern the particular Church entrusted to their care. The pope is the supreme legislator in the Church. The legislative power of diocesan bishops is not universal, but can be exercised only within and for the particular Church entrusted to their care. Such legislative power can never be used to contradict a universal law of the Church, but only to complement it. This legislative power he exercises personally. He exercises his executive power either personally or through the vicar general or episcopal vicar. He exercises judicial power through the judicial vicar of the diocesan tribunal and judges assigned to that tribunal.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, must be the model according to which the power of governance is to be exercised. Relying on the example of the Good Shepherd, the bishop has "compassion for those who are ignorant and erring. He should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his very own children… The faithful…should be closely attached to the bishop as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father."

10. What is an encyclical? What is the name of Pope Benedict’s most recent encyclical letter?  What does the Pope say in that letter? 

An encyclical is a "formal pastoral letter written by the Pope for the entire Church."  While diocesan bishops often write a pastoral letter to the faithful in their particular Church, the term "encyclical" is reserve to a papal letter since term implies a letter that "goes all around" the universal Church. An encyclical letter is distinguished from other forms of papal writings such as briefs, bulls, rescripts and constitutions, which have juridical value different from an encyclical. It is a pastoral letter in that it usually deals with matters of faith, morals or Church discipline. Encyclical letters, like the documents of an ecumenical council, derive their title from the first two or three words of the letter itself.  Pope Benedict wrote three encyclicals: Deus caritas est (God is Love), December 25, 2005, Spe salvi (On Christian Hope), November 30, 2007 and Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), June 29, 2009 Deus caritas est is a moving reflection on two concepts of love: eros, which is to be understood as possessive, often sexual, love and agape, unconditional and self- sacrificing love and their relationship with the logos, the living word of God.

In his latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict highlights the relationship between humans and the environment and he links charity and truth to the pursuit of justice, both by individuals and societies. In this encyclical, men and women are challenged to think and act in new ways with one another and to respect the use of the earth’s resources for all.


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