Pope Francis’ first encyclical “Lumen fidei”, has been published today Friday 5th July. The document was presented at 12noon (11am Rome time) at the Vatican Press Office.
A Papal Encyclical is the name typically given to a letter written by a Pope to a particular audience of Bishops. This audience of Bishops may be all of the Bishops in a specific country or all of the Bishops in all countries throughout the world. A more complete description of an encyclical letter can be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia entry: “According to its etymology, an encyclical (from the Greek egkyklios, kyklos meaning a circle) is nothing more than a circular letter. In modern times, usage has confined the term almost exclusively to certain papal documents which differ in their technical form from the ordinary style of either Bulls or Briefs, and which in their superscription are explicitly addressed to the patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops of the Universal Church in communion with the Apostolic See. By exception, encyclicals are also sometimes addressed to the archbishops and bishops of a particular country.”
Pope Benedict issued three encyclical letters during his papacy – details
Pope John Paul II issued 14 encyclical letters during his papacy – details