Pastoral letter

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The pastoral letter , also known as the pastoral word , is a letter from a bishop to the believers in his diocese in the Roman Catholic Church and the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church . Pastoral letters deal mainly with questions of faith and, related to it, social developments, but can also be written on specific occasions that are of great importance to the diocesan or the Church as a whole, such as anniversaries, an upcoming synod , the year of faith or a visit to the Pope. The term pastoral letter is derived from the pastoral task of the bishop in the church .


Apart from the letters of the apostles Paul and Peter to the first Christian communities, it was not until the 16th century that a bishop was reported who wrote to the believers in his diocese on Easter . This first pastoral letter comes from St. Charles Borromeo , Archbishop of Milan .

In Germany, the bishops have been writing a so-called Lenten pastoral letter to the faithful in their diocese since the 18th century , which is read on the first Sunday of Lent. Traditionally, a pastoral letter is also published at the beginning of Advent . Pastoral letters are usually read out to the congregation at the Holy Mass on the Sunday following publication or given in writing to the worshipers for information.

Papal Pastoral Letters

Even the Pope writes as head of the College of Bishops and Bishop of Rome pastoral letters that do not use encyclicals are confused. These pastoral letters are apostolic letters to the bishops or the faithful of a particular region or country. These pastoral letters are also announced in the congregations orally or in writing.


See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Pastoral letter  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. An example: Benedict XVI. : Pastoral letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. to the Catholics in Ireland. Libreria Editrice Vaticana , March 19, 2010, accessed March 12, 2012 .