Faith/Spirituality Forum: Church Documents

Church Documents QUESTION from Sister Lisa Valentini, MSC May 29, 2001 Blessings!
I am a Missionary working in the Dominican Republic. We have a well developed Escuela de Laicos (School for Lay Ministers), and I have been asked to teach a 15 hour course on Church Documents. There are HUNDREDS -- maybe THOUSANDS -- of Church Documents -- and there are many specifically written for the Chruch in Latin America -- but I would like to start with some definitions --
What is an encyclical?
What is a Pastoral Letter?
What's the difference?
Is Canon Law considered a Church Document?
What is a Synod?
What is a Church Council?
How many Church Councils have we had?
What are the significant results of those Councils: eg. Council of Nicea -- Nicene Creed. . .?
I know this question is very broad - but I am living in the Dominican Republic, and we simply don't have the resources to research all this information. I have been trying for more than a month to find a website with these definitions -- but have had no luck. Thanks for your time. God bless!
Oh, if you could simply tell me where to look (as in a Website)for the information, I would be very grateful. I'd be even more grateful if I could get the information in Spanish. Thanks again.
In Jesus' heart, Sister Lisa Valentini, MSC
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on July 8, 2001 Dear Sister:
In a previous question I outlined the various kinds of papal documents. The URL for that question is:
http://www.saint-mike.org/Apologetics/QA/Answers/Faith_Spirituality/990502Joy.html
On Canon Law? Yes, that is a Church document.
A Synod is a meeting of bishops, often from a certain region, who come together to discuss some topic.
A Ecumenical Council is a gathering of the bishops of the world convened by the Holy See Ecumenical Councils make format declaration that can be binding upon all the Church and can, in certain circumstances, in union with the Pope, make infallible declarations.
There have been 21 Ecumenical Councils since the beginning of the Church
I think you can find all this information from the Catholic Encylopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/
If you can't find all you need in the Encyclopedia, let me know.
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