Documents from the Catholic Church Magisterium
Name of DocumentSubject and Key TopicseBook Link
100The Didache
The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles
Earliest document written near the time of the death of Saint John the Evangelist, details many of the requirements necessary to be a follower of Christ.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
10 CommandmentsSinBaptism
Holy EucharistTemptation
529Council of Orange
The Council of Orange, while not a General Ecumenical Council, was important in terms of the important canons that were crafted in response to the most onerous heresy of the day; Pelagianism. This heresy put forth the proposition that man did not need God's grace to attain eternal salvation, but could achieve sanctity by human means alone. Augustine dedicated much of his later life fighting this error.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Original SinDivine GraceSalutary Merit
1336Benedictus Deus
Blessed Be God
Sacred Constitution written by Pope Benedict XII (1336) which defined the Dogma of the Beatific Vision of God - seeing God face-to-face. The Beatific vision is, in simple terms, attaining Heaven and a share in Divine life with God.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
HeavenBeatific VisionFaith, Hope and Charity
1520Exsurge Domine
Arise, O Lord
Condemning the errors of Martin Luther. This Papal Bull was written in response to the teachings of Martin Luther which opposed the views of the Church. It censured forty one propositions extracted from Luther's 95 theses and subsequent writings, and threatened him with excommunication unless he recanted within a sixty day period commencing upon the publication of the bull. (He never recanted).
Key Doctrines and Topics:
1854Ineffabilis Deus
God Ineffable (Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words)
This is the Papal document that established the Church Dogma on the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother Mary. A "Dogma" is understood as a "truth immediately (formally) revealed by God which has been proposed by the Teaching Authority of the Church to be believed as such." (From "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" - Dr. Ludwig Ott, Tan Books, 1952.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Immaculate ConceptionBlessed MotherTradition
DogmaDivine Revelation
1950Munificentissimus Deus
The Most Bountiful God
This is this Papal document that established the "Dogma" of the Assumption of Mary in to Heaven both body and soul.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Assumption of MaryVirgin MaryMother of God
1972Sacram Unctione Infirmorum
Anointing of the Sick
Apostolic Constitution written by Pope Paul VI to clarify the truths and essential elements associated with the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, previously referred to as "Extreme Unction".
Key Doctrines and Topics:
1974Declaration on Procured Abortion
Comprehensive analysis of the historical truth behind the Church's teaching that abortion, for any reason, is a grave sin against God - it is the taking of a human life which no human being has the right to do.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
AbortionHuman LifeDivine Law
Natural Reason
1975Persona Humana
The Human Person
Published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1975; the document is a declaration on certain questions concerning sexual ethics. Much of the document addresses the following key statement: "Man has been made by God to participate in His Divine Law with the result that, under the gentle disposition of Divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever increasingly the unchanging truth. Since this Divine Law is accessible to our minds, we cannot make value judgments according to our personal whim in moral matters."
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Divine LawHomesexualityMasturbation
Fundamental OptionChastity
1976Inter Insigniores
Among the Characteristics
On The Question Of Admission Of Women To The Ministerial Priesthood Written by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to explain in much detail the reasoning behind the Catholic Church's teaching and belief that Holy Orders (the conferring of the priesthood) was, is and always will be for men only based primarily, on the understanding that this is what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has commanded.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Sacred OrdersChrist's treatment of womenTrue Vocation to the Priesthood
1980Dominicae Cenae
The Lord's Supper
On The Mystery And Worship Of The Eucharist Written by Pope Saint John Paul II to teach the meaning and purpose of the Most Holy Eucharist in the life of the Catholic Church.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Eucharist and the PriesthoodEucharist and the ChurchEucharist and Charity
Eucharist and NeighborThe Eucharist as a true sacrificeSacred Character of the Eucharist
1981Declaration on Euthanasia
Document written by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to clearly address the Church's teaching and stance pertaining to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering, also known as Euthanasia.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
EuthanasiaGod's CommandmentsDignity and Value of Human Life
False MercyEnd of Life Issues
1981Familiaris Consortio
Family Partnership
On The Role Of The Christian Family In The Modern World Written by Pope Saint John Paul II to provide guidance to the many families throughout the world who were struggling with dealing with a culture that seemed to undermine the Christian belief in family as the foundation of all of human society.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Children and ParentsIndissoluble Nature of MarriageCelibacy and Chastity
The Church's TeachingThe Charter of Family RightsThe Church's Sanctuary in the Home
1984Reconciliatio et Paenitentia
Reconciliation and Penance
On Reconciliation And Penance In The Mission Of The Church Today. A thorough analysis and review of the meaning and reality of sin and the great need for penance and Sacramental absolution of sins that have been committed through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Reality of SinMortal and Venial SinSanctifying Grace
Error of the Fundamental OptionSacrament of PenanceSacramental Absolution
1984Salvifici Doloris
Salvific Suffering
On The Christian Meaning Of Human Suffering A through analysis and explanation of human suffering in the truth based on God's Divine Laws and His complete providence over mankind.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Biblical Job as a model of sufferingChrist - Suffering conquered by LoveSuffering Servants of Jesus
1986Letter to the Bishops
Written by The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope Saint John Paul II - the document deals with the complex and highly charged issue of dealing with homosexual persons in light of all that the Catholic Church has taught since its founding by Jesus Christ.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
God's Revealed Truths regarding SodomyChastity as the only solution
1989Pornography and Violence in the Communications Media
Issued by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications - stated objective in the document:

"This document is intended to address the widely expressed concerns of families and of the shepherds of the Church and to invite even more general reflection of an ethical and practical nature on the problem of pornography and violence in the communications media and to encourage all to follow the injunction of St. Paul: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom 12, 21)."

Key Doctrines and Topics:
Increase in PornographyHorror of PornographyPornography is Sin
Causes of PornographyNecessary Responses
1992Considerations Concerning the Response
Issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and meant to follow up the 1986 " Letter to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons" due to excessive misunderstandings and even out right deceptions attempting to defend homosexuality as not seriously contrary to the Will of God.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Sexual Orientation
1994Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
On Reserving Priestly Ordination To Men Alone Apostolic Letter issued by Pope Saint John Paul II to definitively pronounce judgement on the concept of woman becoming priests in the Roman Catholic Church: "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Holy Orders
2003Considerations Regarding Proposals
Document written and published by the Sacred Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith and approved by Pope Saint John Paul II to provide guidance to Bishops in dealing with governmental agencies that were in the process of legalizing same sex marriages.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
2004Redemptionis Sacramentum
Sacrament of Redemption
On Certain Matters To Be Observed Or To Be Avoided Regarding The Most Holy Eucharist A thorough review and guide for what is to be followed regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.
Key Doctrines and Topics: