PASTORAL LETTER, an open letter addressed by a bishop to the clergy or laity of his diocese, or to both, containing either general admonition, instruction or consolation, or directions for behaviour in particular circumstances. In the Catholic Church such letters are also sent out regularly at particular ecclesiastical seasons, particularly at the beginning of fasts. In the nonepiscopal Protestant churches the name " pastoral letter " is given to any open letter addressed by a pastor to his congregation, but more especially to that customarily issued at certain seasons, e.g. by the moderator of a Presbyterian assembly or the chairman of a Congregational or Baptist union.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)