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Wednesday, June 15, 2005
(I was at work and there was this argument about stem cell reasearch coming from two co-workers of mine, while we are having our lunch break. Listening to both of them, the other -- a very conservative Catholic and the other -- a member of the Evangelical Church, each trying to argue about what their church stands for and the authorithy behind what they stand for.They were asking me about the documents and authoritative writings of the church and how it was promulgated. I told them I am not a Cannon Lawyer nor am I a doctor of the church. I told them I can advise them on the different documents the Catholic Church publish and bring forth, when it comes to the doctrines and other teachings of the church that Catholic Church wants the whole Christendom to hear and read or what the whole world could see on how the church traditionally stand. So I created this entry in my blog).

"To clarify Pope John Paul II's position on stem-cell research, the Vatican quoted from his 1995 encyclical, Evanglium Vitae. What's an encyclical, and how does it differ from a papal bull?"

The Catholic Church articulates and develops its teachings primarily though Encyclicals. Traditionally, an encyclical is a letter from a pope to the church's bishops, but during the past forty years the pope has also addressed them to the faithful and to "all people of good will". Pope John Paul II has issued more than a doezen encyclicals, including Paul VI's "Fides et Ratio"("Faith and Reason"). Notable encyclicals include Paul VI's 1968 "Humanae Vitae"("The Gospel of Life"), which condemned the "culture of death" the pope saw manifested in abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment. The first encyclical was circulated by Benedict XIV in 1740.

Prior to the eighteenth century, the church expressed its teachings through the apostolic bulls, more legalistic and solemn documents than encyclicals. (Bull refers to the Latin word "Bulla", or seal, which is affixed to the documents). The condemnation of Martin Luther, for example, came in a papal bull. Today, the Vatican issued Bulls mostly to confer the titles of Bishops and cardinals or to procalim the canonization of a saint.

Encyclicals are authoritative, not to be criticized or rejected lightly by members of the church, but they are not infallibale. Only three doctrines developed in the past two hundreds years are considered infallible, and all were issued as Bulls: The Immaculate Conception(that Mary was born without original sin), the Assumption (that Mary was taken up body and soul into heaen), and the definition of Papal Infallibility issued by the First Vatican Council.

(abstracted from The EXPLAINER)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:19 PM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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