Catechism of the Catholic Church
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.
According to John Paul II, 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. In 1986, John Paul II 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 later cardinal deacon of Santi Domenico e Sisto, of the University Church of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum was influential in drafting the encyclical.
It was published in the French language in 1992. Later it was 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. As a result, the earlier translations from the French into other languages (including English) had to be amended and re-published as "second editions".
Paragraph 2267 (capital punishment)
The paragraph dealing with the death penalty (2267) was revised again by Pope Francis in 2018.
The present recension of the catechism now reads:
Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person", and the Catholic Church works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
In the apostolic constitution Fidei 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 constitution Fidei 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 Profession of Faith (the Apostles' Creed)
- The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (the Sacred Liturgy, and especially the sacraments)
- Life in Christ (including the Ten Commandments)
- Christian Prayer (including the Lord's Prayer)
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.
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 eleven languages.
- Catholic Catechist
- Catholic Directory
- Catholic spirituality
- Glossary of the Catholic Church
- History of the Catholic Church since 1962
- Index of Catholic Church articles
- Outline of Catholicism
- Pastoral care
- Catholic theology
- Second Vatican Council
- The Common Catechism
- Timeline of the Catholic Church
- Universal call to holiness
- Vocational discernment in the Catholic Church
- 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.)
- From the Copyright Information, pg. iv.
- "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 (in French). Tours/Paris: Mame/Plon. 1992. ISBN 2-266-00585-5.
- Steinfels, Peter (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.
- "Nuova redazione del n. 2267 del Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica sulla pena di morte". Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
- 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.
- "Table of Contents". Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraphs 101–141.
- Paul VI (18 November 1965). "Dei verbum 12". Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraph 111.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraph 113.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraphs 115–119.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraph 116.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraph 117.
- 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.
- "Catechism of the Catholic Church & Compendium, in All Languages". Vatican.va. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
- 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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- Fidei depositum Text of the apostolic constitution promulgating the Catechism
- Text of Laetamur magnopere, on the promulgation of the editio typica of the Catechism.
Text of the Catechism
- The Holy See – Archive – Catechism of the Catholic Church; in Arabic, Traditional Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Latvian, Malagasy, Portuguese, and Spanish (as of 29 May 2021)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; English – Second edition (revised in accordance with the Latin editio typica)
Comments on the Catechism
- US Catholic Bishops Conference: Office for the Catechism
- Catechism of the Catholic Church Simplified – A condensation of the text, not the text itself
- The New Catechism: Is it Catholic? (written by members of Society of Saint Pius X, which does not accept the Second Vatican Council)