What is "Christ the King" Sunday?


Q. The Solemnity of Christ the King (November 22) was instituted relatively recently in Church history. Why was it instituted?

A. In 1925, in his encyclical Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King to be celebrated throughout the universal Church. He believed that the growing denial of Christ as King had contributed to the rise of secularism throughout much of Europe and beyond. Many had come to doubt Christ's authority and the Church's power to exercise His authority.

This historical period witnessed the rise of non-Christian, anti-Christian, and only nominally Christian dictatorships throughout the world, which attempted to assert authority over the Church. Just as the Feast of Corpus Christi had been instituted when devotion to the Eucharist was at a low point, the Feast of Christ the King was instituted when respect for Christ and the Church was waning, as a way of counteracting that trend.

Pope Pius expressed his hope that the institution of the feast would have three primary effects: (1) That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom from the interference and control of the state (Quas Primas, 31). (2) That civic leaders and their nations would recognize that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas, 32). (3) That the Christian faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as it reminds us that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, and bodies (Quas Primas, 33).