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Theology

General Guidelines

These "general guidelines' are based on MLA style. Always follow your instructor's requirements, advice, or suggestions, however.

  • A first citation must be complete. Subsequent references are abbreviated in standard forms. Many well known texts are then cited (in the text of your paper even using endnotes) simply by the customary Latin title (first few words) like Divino Afflante Spiritu.
  • A work issued by the overall Church (like the Catechism, or any Vatican II document) is cited ONLY by its title from the publication information. No need to precede the cite with Catholic Church as author. If in doubt, ask.  Still, some variations are common in church document citation, depending on the audience and sources being cited, or the advice of the instructor. 

  • In MLA style, honorific titles like "Pope," "Father" or "Cardinal" or "D.D." are not added after, or before, a name.  

  • If a document is issued by a constituted church body or organization (rather than by an individual as ecclesiastical authority) use the title page information as far as practicable. Also cite the group's name from the title page, preferring an English version if given (this is often not the case in CLICnet records).

  • In theology and church writings, citing the paragraph or section number of a work is regular practice.  This is often preferred over MLA style of page number citation in the actual edition consulted. Nonetheless, it is usually acceptable to use paper numbers from the publication. Check with your instructor - he or she may ask you to cite by paragraphs or section numbers alone and not page numbers. Always follow your instructor's requirements in every case. Be sure to ask if in doubt.

  • In theological research, simply citing paragraph or section numbers is a standard practice, often preferred over the page number in the actual edition "in hand."  Still, it is usually perfectly acceptable to use the publication page numbers.  

Vatican II Documents

MLA 7th ed. Citation Styles for Vatican II Documents:

Apostolic Constitutions:

Dei Verbum: "De Divina Revelatione: the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of Vatican Council, Promulgated by Pope Paul VI, November 18, 1965."

  • Tavard, George H. De Divina Revelatione: The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of Vatican Council , Promulgated by Pope Paul Vi, November 18, 1965. Glen Rock, N.J: Paulist Press, 1966. Print.

Gaudiem et Spes: "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World."

  • Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1965. Print.

​Den Gentium:  “Dogmatic constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium, Solemnly Promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, on November 21, 1964.”

  • Peters, Edward H, and Gregory Baum. De Ecclesia; the Constitution on the Church of Vatican Council Ii Proclaimed by Pope Paul Vi, November 21, 1964. Glen Rock, N.J: Paulist Press, 1965. Print.

Papal Encyclical Letters

MLA (7th ed.) Citation Style for Encyclical Letters:

“Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae / Addressed by the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, Men and Women Religious, Lay Faithful, and All People of Good Will on the Value and Inviolability of Human Life.”

  • John, Paul II. Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae. Washington, D.C: United States Catholic Conference, 1995. Print.

First endnote/footnote:
12. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae. (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1995) 7; par. 13.

Subsequent reference:
If the actual copy you used does not include the Latin title on the title page, this Latin title can still be indicated by note or comment. 

Endnote or Footnote:
13.  Evangelium Vitae 24; par. 4. 

In-text citation: 
(Evangelium Vitae par. 4) or even cited as (EV 4) if clear to your reader.  

More MLA Examples for your bibliography: 

"Humanae Vitae : Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Paul VI, on the Regulation of Births."

  • Paul VI, and Marc Caligari. Humanae Vitae: Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Paul VI, on the Regulation of Births. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983. Print.

 "Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint of the Holy Father, John Paul II   on Commitment to Ecumenism."

  • John Paul II. Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint of the Holy Father, John Paul II on Commitment to Ecumenism. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995. Print.

“Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Men and Women Religious, and all the Lay Faithful, on Christian Love.” 

  • Benedict XVI. God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est, Encyclical Letter. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006. Print.

Anniversary documents commenting on and celebrating previous encyclical letters:

MLA (7th ed.) Citation Style for documents commenting on and celebrating the anniversaries of previous encyclical letters:

"Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis of the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, to the Bishops, Priests, Religious Families, Sons and Daughters of the Church and All People of Good Will for the Twentieth Anniversary of Populorum Progressio."

  • John, Paul II. Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis of the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II , to the Bishops, Priests, Religious Families, Sons and Daughters of the Church and All People of Good Will for the Twentieth Anniversary of Populorum Progressio. Washington, D.C: Office of Publishing and Promotion Services, United States Catholic Conference, 1988. Print.

"On the hundredth anniversary of Rerum novarum = Centesimus annus : encyclical letter, May 1, 1991"

  • On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum =: Centesimus Annus : Encyclical Letter, May 1, 1991. Washington, D.C: Office for Pub. and Promotion Services, United States Catholic Conference, 1991. Print.

Papal Instructions

MLA (7th ed.) Citation Style for Papal Instructions:

"Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation: replies to certain questions of the day"

  • Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation: Replies to Certain Questions of the Day. Washington, D.C: Office of Pub. and Promotion Services, United States Catholic Conference, 1987. Print.

Citation Styles for "Instruction on certain aspects of the "theology of liberation.”

  • Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "theology of Liberation". Washington, D.C: United States Catholic Conference, 1984. Print.

Papal Decrees

MLA (7th ed.) Citation Style for Papal Decrees:

"Decree on ecumenism, November 21, 1964"

  • Decree on Ecumenism, November 21, 1964. Washington: National Catholic Welfare Conference, 1964. Print.