Mystici corporis Christi

Mystici corporis Christi (English: 'The Mystical Body of Christ') is a papal encyclical issued by Pope Pius XII on 29 June 1943 during World War II.[1] It is principally remembered for its statement that the Mystical Body of Christ is the Catholic Church, a claim later repeated by Pius XII in Humani generis (1950) in response to dissension. According to Mystici corporis, to be truly a member of the Mystical Body one must be a member of the Catholic Church. Other Christians who erred in good faith could be unsuspectingly united to the Mystical Body by an unconscious desire and longing.[2]

Mystici corporis Christi
Latin for 'The Mystical Body of Christ'
Encyclical of Pope Pius XII
Signature date29 June 1943
Pope Pius XII

It is one of the more important encyclicals of Pius XII because of its topic, the Church, which was strongly debated and further developed in the Second Vatican Council document on the Church, Lumen gentium.

Mystici corporis identified the earthly presence of this body with the Catholic Church, at a time of much theological debate on the meaning of 'Mystical Body'.

According to the Jesuit theologian Avery Dulles, Mystici corporis was "the most comprehensive official Catholic pronouncement on the Church prior to Vatican II."[2] Its primary writer Sebastiaan Tromp drew mainly on the first schema of Vatican I and on the encyclicals of Leo XIII.[3] It de-emphasized papal jurisdiction but insisted on the visibility of the church, warning against an excessively mystical understanding of the union between Christ and the Church.[2]