Last modified on January 13, 2017, at 12:26


An encyclical is an authoritative letter sent to a group, such as a papal encyclical occasionally sent by a pope to the bishops of the Catholic Church.

A papal encyclical ranks as follows in authority:[1]

  1. apostolic constitution
  2. encyclical letter (written for the entire church)
  3. encyclical epistle (written for only part of the church)
  4. apostolic exhortation
  5. apostolic letter
  6. letter