Great Social Encyclicals of the Catholic Church


In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis calls us to read his apostolic exhortation. Pope Francis, whilst being honest, implores each of us individually and as community to read such documents stating,

"I am aware that nowadays documents do not arouse the same interest as in the past and that they are quickly forgotten. Nevertheless, I want to emphasize that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences. I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are. 'Mere administration' can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be “permanently in a state of mission."

The ongoing development of Catholic Social teaching has a rich history. The table below lists many of these major official texts and although not comprehensive they do reflect how teaching has changed over history in reaction to changing times. For ongoing development of Modern Catholic Social teaching, offers links to some of these official texts, notable quotations, bibliography and online concordances.

Table containing History of the Major Official Texts which have enriched
Modern Catholic Social Teaching today

Year Name of Encyclical or Document Pontifical Leader / Author
 1891  Rerum Novarum
  On Capital and Labor
 1931  Quadragesimo Anno
  On Reconstruction of the Social Order
 Pius XI
 1961  Mater et Magistra
  On Christianity and Social Progress
 1963  Pacem in Terris
  On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty
 1965  Gaudium et Spes
  On the Church in the Modern World
 Vatican II
 1967  Populorum Progressio
  On the Development of Peoples
 Paul VI
 1971  Octogesima Adveniens
  On the 80th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum
 Paul VI
 1971  Justicia in Mundo
  Justice in the World
 Synod of Bishops
 1979  Redemptor Hominis
  To the Church and All of Good Will at the Beginning of his Papal Ministry
 John Paul II
 1981  Laborem Exercens
  On Human Work on the 90th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum
 John Paul II
 1987  Sollicitudo rei Socialis
  On the 20th Anniversary of Popolorum Progressio
 John Paul II
 1991  Centesimus Annus
  On the 100th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum
 John Paul II
 1995  Evangelium Vitae
  On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life
 John Paul II
 1998  Fides et Ratio
  On the Relationship Between Faith and Reason
 John Paul II
 2005  Deus Caritas Est
  On Christian Love
 Benedict XVI
 2007  Sacramentum Caritatis
  On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church's Life and Mission
 Benedict XVI
 2009  Caritas in Veritate
  On Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth
 Benedict XVI
 2013  Lumen Fidei
  On Faith
 2013  Evangelii Gaudium
  On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today's World
 2015  Laudato Si'
  On Care for our Common Home
 2016  Amoris Laetitia
  On Love in the Family


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Broken Bay

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