Slice 1 Inmany Catholics, from cardinals to laypeople, had real concerns about the doctrine of papal infallibility. Then the First Vatican Council proclaimed the doctrine — with some important limits and qualifications — and that was pretty much that.
These encyclical letters have exercised an incalculably powerful influence in the direction of Catholic teaching and of Catholic life. Despite their manifest and unique importance, however, the papal encyclicals have never been given anything like a completely adequate treatment in the literature of sacred theology.
Some of the text-books used in our seminaries today give no special consideration whatever to the doctrinal authority of these documents. A third group of authors, more scientific in their approach to this problem, maintain that these documents contain some infallibly true teachings, doctrines presented as infallible on the authority of the encyclicals themselves.
Despite the comparative inadequacy of the treatment they give to the papal encyclicals, however, all the theological works dealing with this subject make it perfectly clear that all Catholics are bound seriously in conscience to accept the teaching contained in these documents with a true internal religious assent.
It is the common teaching of the theologians who have written on this subject that the internal assent due to a great number of the doctrines proposed in the papal encyclicals is something distinct from and inferior to both the act of divine Catholic faith and the act most frequently designated as fides ecclesiastica.
Most theologians hold that, while there is nothing to prevent an infallible definition of truth contained in or connected with the deposit of revelation in papal encyclicals, and while de facto it is quite probable that at least some infallible pronouncements have been made in this way, the Holy Father has not chosen to use the complete plenitude of his apostolic doctrinal authority in presenting most of the truths contained in his encyclical letters.
Nevertheless they all insist that even in this portion of his ordinary magisterium the Holy Father has the right to demand, and actually has demanded, a definite and unswerving internal assent to his teaching from all Catholics.
Unfortunately, in our day, we have encountered certain discussions of matters treated at some length in papal encyclicals by Catholic writers who have, for all practical purposes, disregarded and even opposed the pertinent statements in the pontifical documents. The men who have adopted this attitude seem to take cognizance of the common theological teaching that much of the material presented in the encyclicals does not come to us from the Holy Father with an absolute guarantee of infallibility.
They seem, on the other hand to have forgotten the no-less-certain doctrine of the theologians that the internal and sincere assent due to teachings presented even in a non-infallible way by the supreme teacher and ruler of the Church militant is definitely and seriously obligatory.
The obligation holds until the Church might come to modify its position on some particular portion of the teaching contained in the encyclicals, or at least until the time when very serious reasons for such modification might become apparent.
In this examination we shall consider those writers who stress the non-infallible character of the teachings contained in these documents and then those who insist upon the fact that some of the statements propounded in the encyclicals can be or actually are infallible pronouncements.
Another very imposing group of theologians explicitly list the papal encyclicals, at least in a general way, as non-infallible documents. Bishop Hilarinus Felder,  Msgr. The same view is set forth by Fr.
Lucien Choupin in his outstanding monograph,  by Fr. Thomas Pegues in his frequently quoted article in the Revue thomiste on the authority of the encyclicals,  and by Canon George Smith in his brilliant study on this subject in the Clergy Review. Herman Dieckmann  classifies the doctrine contained in papal encyclicals with that of the Roman Congregations.
The distinguished theologians who deny the papal encyclicals the status of infallible documents teach, none the less, that the faithful are bound in conscience to accord these letters not only the tribute of respectful silence, but also a definite and sincere internal religious assent.
To this end many of them, like Fr. De Groot,  apply to the encyclicals a teaching with the eminent and brilliant Dominic Palmieri had developed about the Catholic attitude towards non-infallible teaching in the Church. The definition demands an assent without reservation and makes a formal act of faith obligatory.
This authority of the papal encyclicals is undoubtedly great. It is, in a sense, sovereign. It is the teaching of the supreme pastor and teacher of the Church. Hence the faithful have a strict obligation to receive this teaching with an infinite respect.
A man must not be content simply not to contradict it openly and in a more or less scandalous fashion.
Oct 13, · The bishops most in support of the pope’s efforts to reform the synod are likely to begin advocating for clarity, and for the regulations called for by the September document. papal authority in the first ecumenical councils by Brian W. Harrison "There never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as . The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals - By Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton Some of the text-books used in our seminaries today give no special consideration whatever to the doctrinal authority of these documents. Others content themselves with a sweeping over-simplification and blithely dismiss all the encyclicals as “non-infallible.
An internal mental assent is demanded.Documents and Speeches by Pope John Paul II. Documents (16): Type: Date: Dolentium hominum / The World of Sufferings Establishing the Pontifical Commission for the Apostolate of Health Care Workers.
Pope Francis greets then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 19, (CNS photo/Paul Haring) ROME, October 6 th, — The.
Oct 13, · The bishops most in support of the pope’s efforts to reform the synod are likely to begin advocating for clarity, and for the regulations called for by the September document. With a combination of gripping, cinematic storytelling, and keen historical analysis rooted in an unprecedented richness of archival sources, The Pope Who Would Be King sheds fascinating new light on the end of rule by divine right in the West and the emergence of modern Europe.
Pope: Those in authority can’t live a ‘double life,’ must lead by example. In Catholic News Agency, Vatican; Elise Harris, CNA. Nov 5, CATHOLIC_NEWS_AGENCY. Conciliar documents. Papal encyclicals. Apostolic exhortations, constitutions, and.
letters. Pastoral letters issued by. national. bishops’ conferences. Notes: This slide illustrates five major levels of Church teaching. We will examine each of these levels in turn, beginning with the one that is most authoritative.