Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference or Event Name

ATLA Annual Conference

Conference Location

Indianapolis, IN


Over the course of 2,000 years, theologians have accreted mountains of writings on every aspect of the Christian faith. While even devoted students of Christian doctrine likely will not have time to scale all of the peaks in a single academic lifetime, they cannot afford to skip completely over one of the highest summits: the documents of the “teaching arm” of the Catholic Church, the Magisterium, which safeguards the deposit of faith and interprets controversies in light of it. Those approaching doctrinal matters, such as the atonement and the virgin birth, from a Protestant perspective may find it beneficial to examine the Catholic position from the mouths of those who formulated them. But how do librarians unfamiliar with the differences between papal encyclicals and papal exhortations, or between conciliar constitutions and conciliar declarations, help students journey across the Catholic theological landscape? How can they distinguish between casual and infallible statements by the Pope? This session will serve not only to introduce librarians to the various types of Church documents and how they are put together, but to provide them with recommendations for the best versions both in print and on the web.


Panel included:

  • Kathy Harty: Research and education services librarian, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology
  • Elyse Hayes: Library director, Seminary of the Immaculate Conception
  • James Humble: Library director, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
  • Andrew Kosmowski: Librarian, Marian Library, University of Dayton

Accompanying document: "Catholic Documents 101: Resources for Parts 3 and 4."