Journals Containing Papal and Vatican Documents

A Guide To Resources In The Mount Angel Abbey Library

Updated January, 2010

The twentieth century saw an enormous increase in the papacy's literary output and the digital age provides unprecedented access to those documents. In particular, recent popes have used formal addresses and encyclical letters as teaching tools. Pope John Paul II gave thousands of addresses in Rome and during his numerous travels. He wrote a number of important encyclicals as well. Pope Benedict, in his turn, has written many substantial talks and documents. In addition, the congregations and commissions of the Vatican publish official documents of various kinds. The easiest way to access documents from recent decades is through the Vatican website, which is listed, below, in the Internet Resources section.

Internet Resources

Official Vatican Website
This website is a treasure trove of Papal and Vatican documents from recent decades. From the home page, choose the language you want to read. The easiest way to access documents is to enter the name or subject of a document in the "Search" box. It is possible to narrow a search to the specific document sought by using the "Search Tips" and "Advanced Search" options.
The Vatican website provides translations of documents in the most common languages used in the Catholic Church.

L’Osservatore Romano
L'Osservatore Romano is the Vatican's newspaper. This website makes current issues of the newspaper available. It also provides a way to order a CD with all language issues from 1997 to the present. In addition L'Osservatore Romano has made available a CD with the whole collection of the Italian daily edition of the Vatican newspaper, with all issues from July 1, 1861 until December 31, 1996.

EWTN Papal Documents Library
Provides links to a wide variety of papal documents. Most are from recent decades, but some documents are from the Middle Ages.

EWTN Document Library
A wide-ranging source of documents with topics ranging from curial documents to documents from historic Church councils.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church (Miss.) Website on the Catechism
This website provides an easy way to search for terms in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Put a term into the box labeled "enter search string" and click the "search" button. It is possible to narrow a search to the specific document sought by using the "options" button. It is also possible to search a part of the Catechism through the Table of Contents, or through the Index, which is found at the bottom of the Table of Contents.


There are a number of journals through which users of Mount Angel Abbey Library can keep abreast of a wide variety of papal teaching. An asterisk (*) indicates that a journal is indexed in the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, available through EBSCO Information Services. Full text of some journal articles can be accessed through the EBSCO search engine, which is available through the computers at the Library.

The subscriptions of these journals are current:

*Acta Apostolicae Sedis is subtitled "commentarium officiale."
[ "Acts of the Apostolic See" is subtitled "official commentary."]
This journal gives the official texts of papal documents and documents from the Vatican congregations. Many are in Latin; otherwise, they are in the language in which they were issued. The library has a complete run of this journal and its predecessor, Acta sanctae sedis [Acts of the Holy See].

Commentarium Pro Religiosis et Missionariis
[Commentary for Religious and Missionaries]
This is mainly devoted to questions of canon [= church] law and missionary practice. It includes both scholarly articles in various European languages and notices of official interpretations by church courts. It is not an official Vatican publication.

This contains papal and Vatican documents, especially those touching on the interpretation of the code of canon law. It is published by the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of Canon Law.

The Newsletter of the (US) Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy often contains information and documents regarding papal and Vatican teaching on the liturgy.

This is a publication of the Vatican's Congregation on Divine Worship. It contains documents from the pope and Vatican congregations concerned with liturgy. It also contains scholarly articles on the liturgy.

*Origins, the weekly magazine of the Catholic News Service (sponsored by the U.S. Congregation of Catholic Bishops) contains English translations and summaries of papal documents. It is timely and prepared for American readers. It is available online for subscribers at OriginsOnline. It is a significant source for information about papal teaching and Vatican documents. Origins publishes texts from the Vatican, the pope, bishops, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Supreme Court, and church leaders around the world.

*L'Osservatore Romano is the Vatican's newspaper. The library subscribes to the weekly edition in English. It contains the text of many of the pope's routine addresses. Often these addresses rehearse themes which will receive fuller treatment in encyclicals and other important documents. The library binds this newspaper, so back issues are available.

*Periodica de Re Canonica
[Periodical concerning Canon Law]
This is published at the Gregorian University in Rome. It contains many articles, in Latin, regarding papal documents. It also includes decisions of the papal commission on the interpretation of canon law. It was formerly called: Periodica de re canonica et morali utilia praesertim religiosis et missionariis.

This is a quarterly published by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education. Articles are in various European languages. The authors are often professors in pontifical faculties in Rome or elsewhere.