The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Latin: Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae; commonly called the Catechism or the CCC) is a catechism promulgated for the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II in 1992. It sums up, in book form, the beliefs of the Catholic faithful.
A catechism ( /ˈkætəˌkizəm/; from Greek: κατηχέω, "to teach orally") is a summary or exposition of doctrine and serves as a learning introduction to the Sacraments traditionally used in catechesis, or Christian religious teaching of children and adult converts.
The decision to publish a catechism was taken at the Second Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that was convened by Pope John Paul II on 25 January 1985 for the 20th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council, and in 1986, put a commission composed of 12 bishops and cardinals in charge of the project. The commission was assisted by a committee consisting of seven diocesan bishops, experts in theology and catechesis.
The text was approved by John Paul II on 25 June 1992, and promulgated by him on 11 October 1992, the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, with his apostolic constitution, Fidei depositum. Cardinal Georges Cottier, Theologian emeritus of the Pontifical Household and now Cardinal-Deacon of Santi Domenico e Sisto the University Church of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum was influential in drafting the encyclical.[note 1]
It was published in the French language in 1992. Later it was then translated into many other languages. In the United States, the English translation was published in 1994 and had been pre-ordered more than 250,000 copies before its release, with a note that it was "subject to revision according to the Latin typical edition (editio typica) when it is published."
On August 15, 1997—the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary— John Paul II promulgated the Latin typical edition, with his apostolic letter, Laetamur Magnopere. The Latin text, which became the official text of reference (editio typica), amended the contents of the provisional French text at a few points. One of the changes consisted in the inclusion of the position on death penalty that is defended in John Paul II's encyclicalEvangelium Vitae of 1995.
As a result, the earlier translations from the French into other languages (including English) had to be amended and re-published as "second editions".[note 2]
In the apostolic constitutionFidei depositum, John Paul II declared that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is "a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith", and stressed that it "is not intended to replace the local catechisms duly approved by the ecclesiastical authorities, the diocesan Bishops and the Episcopal Conferences".
A catechism has been defined as "a book that explains the beliefs of the Christian religion by using a list of questions and answers". Documents of religious instruction have been written since the beginning of Christianity and a catechism is typically an assemblage of these smaller documents into one large compilation of Church doctrine and teachings.
The Catechism itself is not in question-and-answer format. Rather, it is instead a source on which to base such catechisms (e.g. Youcat and the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults) and other expositions of Catholic doctrine, called a "major catechism." As stated in the apostolic constitutionFidei depositum, with which its publication was ordered, it was given so "that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms."
The Catechism is arranged in four principal parts:
This scheme is often referred to as the “Four Pillars” of the Faith. The contents are abundantly footnoted with references to sources of the teaching, in particular the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, and the Ecumenical Councils and other authoritative Catholic statements, principally those issued by recent popes.
The section on Scripture in the Catechism recovers the Patristic tradition of "spiritual exegesis" as further developed through the scholastic doctrine of the "four senses." This return to spiritual exegesis is based on the Second Vatican Council's 1965 dogmatic constitution Dei verbum, which taught that Scripture should be "read and interpreted in light of the same Spirit by whom it was written". The Catechism amplifies Dei verbum by specifying that the necessary spiritual interpretation should be sought through the four senses of Scripture, which encompass the literal sense and the three spiritual senses (allegorical, moral, and anagogical).
The literal sense pertains to the meaning of the words themselves, including any figurative meanings. The spiritual senses pertain to the significance of the things (persons, places, objects or events) denoted by the words. Of the three spiritual senses, the allegorical sense is foundational. It relates persons, events, and institutions of earlier covenants to those of later covenants, and especially to the New Covenant. Building on the allegorical sense, the moral sense instructs in regard to action, and the anagogical sense points to man's final destiny. The teaching of the Catechism on Scripture has encouraged the pursuit of covenantal theology, an approach that employs the four senses to structure salvation history via the biblical covenants.
In 1992, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) noted:
It clearly show[s] that the problem of what we must do as human beings, of how we should live our lives so that we and the world may become just, is the essential problem of our day, and basically of all ages. After the fall of ideologies, the problem of man—the moral problem—is presented to today's context in a totally new way: What should we do? How does life become just? What can give us and the whole world a future which is worth living? Since the catechism treats these questions, it is a book which interests many people, far beyond purely theological or ecclesial circles.
Ulf Ekman, former Charismatic pastor and the founder of Livets Ord, says that the Catechism is "the best book he has ever read".
It was expected that the universal Catechism would serve as a source and template for inculturated national catechisms. In the United States, for example, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, officially replacing their previous version, the Baltimore Catechism, though it had already been out of use for nearly forty years.
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published in 2005, and the first edition in English in 2006. It is a more concise and dialogic version of the Catechism. The text of the Compendium is available in fourteen languages on the Vatican website, which also gives the text of the Catechism itself in nine languages.
Youcat, a catechism for youth, based on the Catechism and its Compendium, was published in 2011. The Vatican has acknowledged that some translations of Youcat contain errors regarding Church teaching on the status of other religions, contraception and euthanasia, whether due to simple error or poor translations.
- ^From the Copyright Information, pg. iv.
- ^"Table of Contents". Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- ^ abcdef"Fidei depositum". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 11 October 1992. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
- ^"Titular Churches of the new Cardinals", Consistory of October 21, 2003. vatican.va. Accessed 1 February 2014.
- ^"Cottier, Card. Georges Marie Martin, O.P.", College of Cardinals, Biographical notes. vatican.va. Accessed 1 February 2014.
- ^Catéchisme de l'Église Catholique. Tours/Paris: Mame/Plon. 1992. ISBN 2-266-00585-5.
- ^Peter Steinfels (May 28, 1994). "After Long Delay, a New Catechism Appears in English". The New York Times.
- ^Copyright Information, p. ii.)
- ^Bill Dodds (June 14, 2017). "Surfing the Catechism on its silver anniversary". Our Sunday Visitor.
- ^"Latin Edition of Catechism Promulgated". L'Osservatore Romano. 17 September 1997. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
- ^"Modifications from the Editio Typica". St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. Amministrazione Del Patrimonio Della Sede Apostolica. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
- ^"The death penalty and the catechism". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archived from the original on 12 March 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2012. [better source needed]
- ^Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 30 May 2016.
- ^Vernon H. Neufeld (1963). Bruce M. Metzger, ed. The Earliest Christian Confessions. E. J. Brill. p. 7. ISSN 0077-8842.
- ^"Fidei Depositum – John Paul II – Apostolic Constitution (11 October 1992)". Vatican.va. Retrieved 2014-07-31.
- ^ ab"CCC, Contents". Vatican.va.
- ^"CCC, 101–141". Vatican.va.
- ^Paul VI (18 November 1965). "Dei verbum 12". Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
- ^"CCC, 111". Vatican.va.
- ^"CCC, 113". Vatican.va.
- ^"CCC, 115–119". Vatican.va.
- ^"CCC, 116". Vatican.va.
- ^"CCC, 117". Vatican.va.
- ^Scott W. Hahn (2009). Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. Brazos Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 9781441205230.
- ^Scott Hahn, ed. (2011). For the Sake of Our Salvation: The Truth and Humility of God's Word. Volume 6 of Letter & spirit. Emmaus Road Publishing. pp. 126–127. ISBN 9781931018685.
- ^"The Catechism of the Catholic Church in Context". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for the Catechism. 1992-12-09. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- ^Berggren, Lukas (2014-03-14). "Ulf Ekman Says Prophetic Word Confirmed His Catholic Conversion". Charisma News. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- ^White, Hilary (13 April 2011). "Youth Catechism also wrong on euthanasia, other religions Vatican admits". LifeSiteNews. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church – English translation (U.S.A., 2nd edition) (English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Modifications from the Editio Typica, copyright 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc., Libreria Editrice Vaticana) (Glossary and Index Analyticus, copyright 2000, U.S. Catholic Conference, Inc.). ISBN 1-57455-110-8
- Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church – English translation (USCCB, 2006). ISBN 1-57455-720-3
- United States Catholic Catechism for Adults – English "... resource for preparation of catechumens in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and for ongoing catechesis of adults" (USCCB, 2006). ISBN 1-57455-450-6
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Text of the Catechism
- The Holy See – Archive – Catechism of the Catholic Church; in Traditional Chinese, English, French, Italian, Latin, Latvian, Malagasy, Portuguese, and Spanish (as of 31 January 2014)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; English – Second edition (revised in accordance with the Latin editio typica)
- St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, Miss., USA; English – Second edition (revised in accordance with the Latin editio typica), with full text search and list of changes between the First and Second editions
Text of the Compendium
- Compendium at Vatican/Holy See website available in Belarusian, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish (as of 31 January 2014)
Pope John Paul II
- ^In an interview in 30Days, 3-2004 Cottier remarked: "Going back to the early years, the first 'big' text I worked on was the social encyclical Centesimus annus. And then the Ut unum sint on ecumenicalism, the moral encyclical Veritatis splendor, and the Fides et ratio… also the Catechism of the Catholic Church". Accessed 1 February 2014.
- ^In the U.S., the bishops then published a new English translation, from the official Latin text. (English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Modifications from the Editio Typica, copyright 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.—Libreria Editrice Vaticana.) The U.S. bishops added a "Glossary and Index Analyticus" (copyright 2000, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.) and published the new translation, with glossary and index, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, "revised in accordance with the official Latin text promulgated by John Paul II". (From the title page.)
When we talk about “the catechism” today we are most likely referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1992 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
For more than a decade bishops, theologians, and other experts worked on a “compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals.” The fruit of their work was the catechism, an organized presentation of the essential teachings of the Catholic Church in regards to both faith and morals, “in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the church’s tradition.”
The creation of an official, authoritative, and authentic reference text for teaching and transmitting Catholic doctrine was not new, however. In 1566 the so-called Roman Catechism was published in response to the request issued three years earlier by the Council of Trent. Used until 1978, it inspired, as intended, the creation of many national catechisms.
Often these national catechisms were in a question-and-answer format, bringing to life the very meaning of the word catechism, derived from the Greek verb “to echo.” Students would, for centuries to come, repeat or echo the answers to the questions back to their teachers, who maybe hoped that the pupils would not only learn Catholic doctrine but echo the faith in their own lives.
In the United States the most famous of these Q&A catechisms is the Baltimore Catechism. Issued by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884 and used until at least 1962, its 421 questions and answers became ingrained in the minds of millions of U.S. Catholic grammar school students who grew up before the council.
Although Catholics the world over flocked to purchase a copy of the 1992 edition (it became a best-seller), the catechism wasn’t intended for study and reflection by Catholics in general. Its intended readers are “those responsible for catechesis,” namely, bishops, priests, and catechists.
In 2006 the U.S. bishops published the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCA), directed toward U.S. Catholics. Based on the CCC, it is written in light of the Catholic American experience and developed for the continuous formation and growth of adult Catholics.
But neither catechism is meant to stand alone as the only reference for Catholic teaching. It only contains small sections of the actual documents it references. The church’s rich tradition, the Bible, and liturgy all illuminate each other and help us grow in faith, hope, and love.
This article appeared in the July 2011 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 76, No. 7, page 46).