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Encyclopedia > Apostolic Constitution

An Apostolic constitution (Latin constitutio apostolica) is a very solemn decree issued by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The use of the term constitution comes from Latin constitutio, which referred to any important law issued by the Roman emperor, and is retained in church documents because of the inheritance that the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church received from Roman law. Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... Decree is an order that has the force of law. ... The Pope (from Greek: pappas, father; from Latin: papa, Papa, father) is the successor of St. ... The Roman Catholic Church, (also known as the Catholic Church), is the Christian Church led by the Bishop of Rome (Pope), currently Benedict XVI, and whose adherents constitute almost half of all Christians worldwide. ... Latin was the language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... Roman Emperor is the term historians use to refer to rulers of the Roman Empire, after the epoch conventionally named the Roman Republic. ... In Western culture, canon law is the law of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. ... Roman Law is the legal system of ancient Rome. ...


By their nature, apostolic constitutions are addressed to the public. Generic constitutions use the title Apostolic Constitution, and treat on solemn matters of the church, such as the promulgation of statutes or definitive teachings. The forms Dogmatic Constitution and Pastoral Constitution are titles sometimes used to be more descriptive as to the document's purpose.


Apostolic Constitutions are issued as Papal bulls due to their solemn, public form. The next highest category, after an Apostolic Constitution, is an Encyclical Letter. Papal bull of Pope Urban VIII, 1637, sealed with a leaden bulla. ... In the ancient Church, an encyclical was a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area. ...


Examples of Apostolic Constitutions

(note: external links)

  • Fidei depositum (1993) John Paul II's Apostolic constitution on the new Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Ut sit (1982) John Paul II's Apostolic constitution raising Opus Dei to the rank of a personal prelature
  • Missale Romanum (1969) Paul VI's Apostolic constitution on the revised liturgy

  Results from FactBites:
 
Universi Dominici Gregis - John Paul II - Apostolic Constitution (22 February 1996) (8122 words)
With these intentions, I promulgate the present Apostolic Constitution containing the norms which, when the Roman See becomes vacant, are to be strictly followed by the Cardinals whose right and duty it is to elect the Successor of Peter, the visible Head of the whole Church and the Servant of the servants of God.
During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the College of Cardinals has no power or jurisdiction in matters which pertain to the Supreme Pontiff during his lifetime or in the exercise of his office; such matters are to be reserved completely and exclusively to the future Pope.
During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, the Secretary for Relations with States and the Secretaries of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia remain in charge of their respective offices, and are responsible to the College of Cardinals.
Ex Corde Ecclesiae - On Catholic Universities - John Paul II - Apostolic Constitution (15 August 1990) (8125 words)
The education of students is to combine academic and professional development with formation in moral and religious principles and the social teachings of the Church; the programme of studies for each of the various professions is to include an appropriate ethical formation in that profession.
The application of the Constitution is committed to the Congregation for Catholic Education, which has the duty to promulgate the necessary directives that will serve towards that end.
Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam Actuositatem, passim: AAS 58 (1966), pp.
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