Catholic Dictionary




Official documents sent by a bishop to the clergy only or to all the faithful of a diocese. A group of bishops, of a region or of a whole country, may also issue pastoral letters for the entire territory under their jurisdiction. Pastoral letters may deal with any subject affecting the faith, practice, or worship of the people. They are often published during certain seasons, as in Lent or Advent. Over the centuries they have become expressions of the ordinary teaching authority of the Church. Nowadays important pastorals are also published in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.