Writings of St. John Paul II



  • Art: article
  • P: poem
  • D: dissertation
  • B: book
  • Papal documents in order of authority:

- Motu Proprio (MP): A document issued Motu Proprio is from the Pope on his own initiative, and not in response to a request or at the initiative of others. It carries the full force of papal authority, though it does not derogate from existing laws unless specifically stated. It can be any category of document. Many of these are establishing new congregations or councils and some appoint new patrons of countries.

- Apostolic Constitutions (AC): includes solemn Magisterial acts of the Pope in governance e.g. erecting dioceses, changing their status, rules for a papal election etc.

- Encyclical Letters (E):  A circular or general letter expressing the mind of the Pope, generally on matters of faith and morals. It may be a letter (to the entire Church) or an epistle (to a particular Church or people.

- Apostolic Letters (AL) – May relate to a doctrinal matter (e.g. Pope John Paul’s Letter on the Mystery of the Eucharist). They may also announce a papal act such as declaring a person Venerable (heroic virtue) or declaring a church a basilica.

- Apostolic Exhortations (AE)- A category of document similar to an Apostolic Letter, which Pope John Paul II uses to communicate to the Church the conclusions he has reached after consideration of the recommendations of a Synod of Bishops. He has also used it in other circumstances, such as to exhort religious to a deeper evangelical life.

- Letters (L)- A personal letter from the Pope to a particular audience, such as the Letter to Families, or even to a single individual.

- Allocutions (A) – Speeches or discourses of the Holy Father. They can be General Audiences, Private Audiences and Discourses (upon arriving or departing a place, before or after Mass, at a rosary or in some circumstance not a homily or an audience). Themes of JPII’s General Audiences: Human Love in the Divine Plan(TOTB 129- 1979-1984), God, Father and Creator (64- 1985-1986), Jesus, Son and Savior (97- 1986-1989), The Spirit, giver of life and love (82- 1989-1991), The Church, mystery, sacrament, community (137, 1991-1995), Mary, Mother of God (70- 1995-1997), Salvation History (119- 1997- 2001), The Liturgy of the Hours: Psalms and Canticles of Lauds (87- 2001-1003) & Vespers (79- 2003-2006 finished by Pope Benedict).

Pre-Pontifical Writings


  • Art: Apostol (The Apostle). Krakow: Tygodnik Powszechny (a weekly magazine). An article about his friend and mentor Jan Tyranowski.


  • P: Matka (Mother). Krakow: Tygodnik Powszechny.
  • D: Questio de fide apud S. Joannem a Cruce (The Question of Faith according to St. John of the Cross). Warsaw: Collectanea Theologica. The Holy Father’s dissertation from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome.

Faith According to St. John of the Cross. Ignatius Press, 1981 (out of print).


  • D: System etyczny Maksa Schelera jako srodek do opracowania etyki chrzescijanskiej (The ethical system of Max Scheler as a means of constructing a Christian ethics). Krakow: Polonia Sacra.


  • B: Milosc i odpowiedzialnosc (L&R). Lublin: Studium etyczne. Another version was edited by Tadeusz Styczeń, Jerzy W Gałkowski, Adam Rodziński, and Andrzej Szostek- Lublin: KUL Press 1986. Also- Love and Responsibility. Ignatius Press.
  • Article: Wychowanie miłości (The education of love) Znak 21 (1960)
  • Play: Przed sklepem jubilera. Medytacja o Sakraemcie Malzenstwa przechodzaca chwilami w dramat by Andrzej Jawien (his literary pseudonym). Krakow: Znak.


  • B: Osoba i czyn (AP). Krakow: Pol. Tow. Teologiczne. Version edited by Tadeusz Styczeń, Wojciech Chudy, Jerzy W. Gałkowski, Adam Rodziński and Andrzej Szostek- Lublin: KUL Press 1994. Also- The Acting Person. D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1979 (out of print and a problematic translation).


  • Upodstaw odnowy. Studium o realizacji Vaticanum II (SoR). Krakow: Pol. Tow. Teologiczne.

Sources of Renewal. The Implementation of Vatican II. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979.


  • Sign of Contradiction. New York: Seabury, 1979. The Lenten Retreat preached in 1976 by Karol Cardinal Wojtyła to Pope Paul VI and the papal household.

Works written  before he became Pope but published while he was Pope.

P: The Jeweler’s Shop. San Francisco: Ignatius Press,1992. Also available as a video, with Burt Lancaster in the lead, from Ignatius Press.

Easter Vigil & Other Poems. New York: Random House, 1979.

The Collected Plays and Writings on Theatre. University of California Press, 1987. (out of print)

Człowiek w polu odowiedzialności. Rome-Lublin: John Paul II Institute, 1991.

En Esprit et En Verite. Paris: Le centurion, 1980

I mieri amici. Rome: CSEO Biblioeteca, 1979

B: Person and Community (PC): Selected Essays. New York: Peter Lang, 1993.

B: The Place Within: The Poetry of Pope John Paul II. New York: Random House 1994.

Poeje I dramaty. Kraków: Znak, 1979; rev. edition, 1998.

Poesie: L’opera poetica completa. Rome: TEI Newton, 1994.

Rozważ nia o istocie człowieka [mimeographed texts of November 1951 lectures on the nature of the human person, provided to the author by Danuta Rybicka].

B: The Way to Christ: Spiritual Exercises. New York: Harper Collins, 1994.

B: The Word Made Flesh: The Meaning of the Christmas Season. New York: Harper Collins, 1994.

B: Wykłady lubelskie, edited by Tadeusz Styczeń, Jerzy W Gałkowski, Adam Rodziński, and Andrzej Szostek, Lublin: KUL Press, 1986.

Zagadnienie podmiotu moralności, edited by Tadeusz Styczeń, Jerzy W Gałkowski, Adam Rodziński, and Andrzej Szostek, Lublin: KUL Press 1991.

–For a bibliography of the pre-pontifical writings of Karol Wojtyla (1949-1978)- Karol Wojtyla negli Scritti. Bibliografia. Vatican City: Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 1980–


Papal Writings



  • E: Redemptor Hominis (RH) On the Redeemer of man. Promulgated on March 4.
  • AC: Sapientia Christiana. On Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties. Issued on March 15.
  • AC: Scripturarum Thesaurus. April 25. The new Vulgate edition of the Holy Bible was declared “typical” and was promulgated.
  • AL: Rutilans Agmen. 8 May. Apostolic letter to the Church in Poland for the ninth centenary of the martyrdom of St. Stanislaus.
  • AE: Catechesi Tradendae. On Catechesis in our Time. Issued on October 16. Flowed from the Fourth Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 1977), called by Pope Paul VI.


  • E: Dives In Misericordia (DM). On the Mercy of God. Promulgated on November 30.
  • L: Dominicae Cenae. On the Holy Eucharist. Issued on February 24. This letter is addressed to the bishops and priests.
  • L: Egregiae Virtutis


  • E: Laborem Exercens. On human work. Promulgated on September 14. Written on the ninetieth anniversary of Leo XIII’s ‘Rerum Novarum’.
  • AE: Familiaris Consortio (FC). On the Family. Issued on December 15. The fruit of the Fifth Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in October 1979.



  • AC: Sacrae Disciplinae Leges. Promulgation of the New Code of Canon Law on January 25.
  • AC: Divinus Perfectionis Magister. 25 January. Streamlined the process by which a candidate for canonization is investigated.
  • L: Essential Elements of Religious Life. Includes ‘Essential Elements in the Church’s Teaching on Religious Life as Applied to Institutes Dedicated to Works of the Apostolate’ from the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes.


  • AL: Salvifici Doloris. On Human Suffering. Issued on February 11, 1984.
  • AE: Redemptionis Donum (RD). Gift of the Redemption. It is the Jubilee Year exhortation (1950th Year of the Redemption) of the Pope to men and women religious. Issued on March 25.
  • AE: Reconciliatio et Paenitentia . On Reconciliation and Penance. Comes after the Sixth Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 1983). Issued on December 2.
  • AL: Redemptionis Anno
  • A: Prayer, Penance & the Eucharist Are the Principal Sources of Spirituality for Married Couples- Text of General Audience of Pope John Paul II on October 3.
  • B: Be Not Afraid. Andre Frossard & Pope John Paul II. New York: Doubleday (Image). Interview of the Pope by Italian journalist Andre Frossard.


  • E: Slavorum Apostoli . Apostles of the Slavs. Written on the eleventh centenary of work of Saints Cyril and Methodius. 2 June.
  • AL: Dilecti Amici. 31 March. Letter to the Youth of the World, on the occasion of the International Youth Year.


  • E: Dominum Et Vivificantem . On the Holy Spirit. Promulgated on May 30.


  • E: Redemptoris Mater. Mother of the Redeemer. Promulgated on March 25.
  • E: Sollicitudo Rei Socialis. On the Social Teaching of the Church. Promulgated on December 30.
  • AL: Duodecimum Saeculum to the Episcopate of the Catholic Church on the occasion of the 1200th Anniversary of the Second Council of Nicaea, December 4. Deals with the veneration of holy images.


  • MP, AL: Ecclesia Dei. Issued on July 2. In this letter the Pope establishes a commission to facilitate the full ecclesial communion of those who have been linked to Lefebvre’s society.
  • AC: Pastor Bonus
  • AL: Vicesimus Quintus Annus on the 25th anniversary of the Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium. December 4.
  • AE: Christifideles Laici. On the Laity. Flowed from the Seventh Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 1987). Issued on December 30.
  • AL: Euntes in Mundum
  • AL: Mulieris Dignitatem. On the dignity of women. Issued on August 15.


  • MP: Ad tuendam fidem. To protect the faith. Certain norms are inserted into the “Code of Canon Law” and into the “Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.” These changes reflect the content of the “Profession of Faith” promulgated in 1989 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the obligation of Catholics to believe “definitive teachings,” and not just those defined by a solemn exercise of papal infallibility.
  • AL: Opera di San Pietro Apostolo. 1 October.
  • AL: Apostolic Letter on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Beginning of the II World War. 27 August.
  • AE: Redemptoris Custos. Guardian of the Redeemer. Issued on August 15. A reflection on St. Joseph.


  • AC: Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Issued on August 15.
  • E: Redemptoris Missio (RM). Issued on December 7.
  • AL: Master In the Faith. Apostolic Letter for the Fourth Centenary of the Death of Saint John of the Cross. Given in Rome on December 14.
  • AL: Apostolic Letter for the Fifth Centenary of the Evangelization of the New World. 29 June.


  • E: Centesimus Annus. Promulgated May 1.
  • AL: On Combatting Abortion and Euthanasia- Letter to the world’s Bishops following the Extraordinary Consistory of Cardinals on Dangers to Human Life and Sects. Promulgated May 19.


  • AC: Apostolic Constitution promulgating the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Issued 11 October.
  • AE: Pastores Dabo Vobis. I Will Give You Shepherds. On the formation of priests. Is the fruit of the Eight Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 1990). Given on March 25.
  • AC: Fidei Depositum


  • E: Veritatis Splendor. Splendor of the Truth. Promulgated August 6.
  • AL: Inde a Pontificatus. Published 25 March. This Apostolic Letter, issued Motu Proprio, united the Pontifical Council for Culture with the Pontifical Council for Non-Believers in a new Pontifical Council for Culture.


  • AL: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone. Dated 22 May, and released to the public on May 29. This is an infallible pronouncement stating that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.
  • AL: Tertio Millennio Adveniente on the Jubilee of the year 2000, the two thousandth anniversary of the Incarnation and Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It establishes a three year preparatory period for the celebration of the Jubilee Year and calls the Church to rededication to the teachings of Vatican II and to conversion of heart. Released on November 14.
  • L: Letter to Children. Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Children in the Year of the Family. It was dated Dec 13 and released at the Vatican Dec. 15.
  • L: Letter to Families. Released February 22 at the Vatican. This letter marks the celebration of the International Year of the Family.
  • B: Crossing the Threshold of Hope (CTTOH). Knopf, 1994 (hard); Random House, 1995 (soft).


  • E: Evangelium Vitae (EV) . The Gospel of Life. On the value and inviolability of human life. Given in Rome on March 25.
  • E: Ut Unum Sint. That they may be one. Promulgated on May 25. The Holy Father calls for a new discussion of the authority and ministry of the pope. He says that the unity of all Christians is God’s will and is at the heart of the mission Christ entrusted to His followers.
  • AL: Orientale Lumen. The Light of the East. Promulgated on May 2, to mark the centenary of Orientalium Dignitas of Pope Leo XIII.
  • AE: Ecclesia in Africa
  • L: For the fourth Centenary of the Union of Brest.
  • L: Letter to Women. The letter to women issued in preparation for the Beijing Conference. Dated June 29 and released July 10 at the Vatican.
  • A: General Audience May 3- On evangelization and missionary work.
  • A: General Audience May 17- The Pope continues his reflection on the missions.
  • A: General Audience May 31- Reaching out to those who do not belong to the Church.


  • AC: Universi Dominici Gregis. Issued on February 22. On the Vacancy of the Apostolic See and the Election of the Roman Pontiff.
  • AE: Vita Consecrata (VC). Consecrated Life. Fruit of the Ninth Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 1994). Given on March 25.
  • B: Gift and Mystery. On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination. New York: Doubleday. The Pope reflects on his vocation and the meaning of priesthood.


  • AL: Divini Amoris Scientia. 19 October. Proclaimed St. Therese of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church.


  • E: Fides et ratio (FR). Faith and reason. Released on 15 October.
  • AL: Dies Domini. Signed 31 May. About Sunday being the day of the Lord.
  • B: Theology of the Body (TOTB). Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1998. Collection of the Holy Father’s Wednesday Audiences during the period 1979 to 1984. Formerly published in four books: Original Unity of Man and Woman (1981), Blessed are the Pure of Heart (1983), Reflections on Humanae Vitae (1984) and The Theology of Marriage and Celibacy (1986).
  • L: Ad Tuendam Fidem
  • L: Apostolos Suos


  • AL: Inter Munera Academiarum. Published 28 January. The Holy Father renewed and revised the statutes of the Pontifical Roman Theological Academy and the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas.
  • AE: Ecclesia in America. The Church in America. Issued on 23 January,at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalulpe in Mexico City. It is the Pope’s response to the Synod of the Bishops of America held in Rome in 1997 and can be considered the millennial program for the Church in America.



  • AL: Novo Millennio Ineunte (NMI). Signed at the end of the Mass of the Epiphany, at the close of the Great Jubilee. The Holy Father addressed some of the great challenges faced by Christians in the Third Millennium, including the New Evangelization, Christian unity, growth in interreligious dialogue, defense of the family and the environment, and the ethical implications of biotechnology.
  • AE: Ecclesia in Oceania. 22 November. Came from the Synod of Bishops, held in Rome in 1998.


  • MP: Misericordia Dei. Published 2 May. This apostolic letter which was in the form Of Motu Proprio was about the Celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. A primary theme of the Letter is that, since both guilt and repentance are entirely personal, the only ordinary way to receive sacramental absolution is after individual confession.
  • AL: Rosarium Virginis Mariae (RVM). On the 24th anniversary of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II examined the history and meaning of the Rosary. He proclaimed a Year of the Rosary (October 2002- October 2003) for world peace and the family, and encouraged the meditation on five additional mysteries, called “luminous” (to be prayed on Thursdays).


  • E: Ecclesia de Eucharistia. Signed by the Holy Father at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 17 April. This encyclical replaced his customary Holy Thursday letter to priests, and was addressed to the whole of the Catholic Church.
  • AE: Pastores Gregis. Signed on 16 October. Summarizes conclusions of the synod on the role of Bishops in the Church.
  • AE: Ecclesia in Europa. Published 28 June. The Holy Father summarizes the conclusions of the 2nd Synod of Bishops for Europe in 1999 offering guidance to a new Europe.
  • P: Roman Triptych – Meditations. Washington, D.C: USCCB Publishing, March. Three poems by Pope John Paul II, “The Stream,” “Meditations on the Book of Genesis at the Threshold of the Sistine Chapel,” and “A Hill in the Land of Moriah.”


  • B: Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way. New York: Warner Books, May. Book written to guide Bishops.


  • B: Memory and Identity: Conversations at the Dawn of a Millennium (MI). Rizzoli, March. This book centers around conversations he had with friends, Krzysztof Michalski, a political philosopher, and the late Rev. Jozef Tishner, at the papal summer residence, Castel Gondolfo, in 1993.