In order to know the meaning of the encyclical term, it is necessary, first, 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 is the result of the sum of the following components:
-The prefix “en-”, which can be translated as “inside”.
-The noun "kyklos", which is synonymous with "circle."
The term is used to name a solemn communication which the pope performs to bishops and Catholics in general.
In its origins, the encyclicals were letters that a bishop sent to the various churches of a region. Currently, within the framework of the Catholic Church , the concept is usually associated with a letter released by the Pope to present a vision or a thought about a matter of importance.
There is, however, no exact definition of papal encyclicals , Since the letters and the Pope's communiqués can be classified in a different way. In general, an encyclical deals with a priority issue at a given time.
Pope Francisco For example, he presented his first encyclical in July 2013: “Lumun fidei” , translated as "The light of faith" . In it he reflects on the faith , structuring the content in an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion.
The second encyclical of Francisco It was “Laudato si '” (or "Praise You" ), presented in May 2015. In this letter of six chapters, the Pope calls to protect the environment and life, criticizing consumerism.
Among the popes who wrote more encyclical, 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 Bookstore , although currently they can also be read through Internet .
In addition to all of the above, there is another important series of data of interest on encyclicals, such as the following:
-The first encyclical that is recorded was written in the eighteenth century. Specifically, it was written in 1766 by the then Pope, Benedict XIV.
-They are considered to be the most important documents made by the Supreme Pontiff.
-They have their origin in the well-known epistles of the "New Testament."
-As a rule, they are usually written in Latin, as it is the official language that is held at the Holy See. However, that does not mean that they will be translated into other languages.
-The Pope who did not write any encyclical was John Paul I, since 33 days after being appointed Supreme Pontiff he died.
-Although the Catholic Church mentions them to refer to the documents made by the Pope, the truth is that in both Anglican and 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.