"According to its etymology, an encyclical is nothing more than a circular letter," according to The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) was started by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and finished by Francis. Pope Francis signed it June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, although it was not released until July 5, the same day he announced Popes John Paul II and John XXIII would be canonized.

Benedict wrote three encyclicals:Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope) and Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth).

John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals.

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