Religion:Catechism of the Catholic Church

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Short description: Summary of doctrine of the Catholic Church
The Good Shepherd logo is adapted from a Christian tombstone in the catacombs of Domitilla in Rome.[1]

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 aims to summarize, in book form, the main beliefs of the Catholic Church.


The decision to publish an official 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, to evaluate the progress of implementing the Vatican II council's goals on the 20th anniversary of its closure. The assembly participants expressed the desire that "a catechism or compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composed, that it might be, as it were, a point of reference for the catechisms or compendiums that are prepared in various regions. The presentation of doctrine must be biblical and liturgical. It must be sound doctrine suited to the present life of Christians."[2]

In 1986, John Paul II formed a commission composed of 12 cardinals and bishops chaired by cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to prepare the first draft of the Catechism.[3] The commission was assisted by a committee consisting of seven diocesan bishops, experts in theology and catechesis.[3]

Reminiscing those days, Ratzinger said in 2011: "I must confess that even today it seems a miracle to me that this project [the Catechism of the Catholic Church] was ultimately successful."[4]

Cardinal Georges Cottier claims he worked on the Catechism.[5]


The Catechism was promulgated by John Paul II on 11 October 1992, the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, with his apostolic constitution Fidei depositum (in English, The Deposit of Faith).[3][6]


The CCC was published in the French language in 1992.[7] In the United States, the English translation was published in 1994 and had been pre-ordered more than 250,000 copies before its release,[8] with a note that it was "subject to revision according to the Latin typical edition (editio typica) when it is published."[9]

On 15 August 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.[10] The Latin text, which became the official text of reference (editio typica),[11] amended the contents of the provisional French text at a few points.[12] 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 1]

Doctrinal value

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".[3]

The Catechism states:[13]

11 This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church's Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church's Magisterium. It is intended to serve "as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries".
12 This work is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis: first of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pastors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfilling their responsibility of teaching the People of God. Through the bishops, it is addressed to redactors of catechisms, to priests, and to catechists. It will also be useful reading for all other Christian faithful.


The Catechism is a source on which to base other Catholic catechisms (e.g. YOUCAT or the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults) and other expositions of Catholic doctrine. 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."[14]

The Catechism is arranged in four principal parts:[15]

The section on Scripture in the Catechism covers the Patristic tradition of "spiritual exegesis" as further developed through the scholastic doctrine of the "four senses."[16] The Catechism amplifies Dei verbum by specifying that the necessary spiritual interpretation should be sought through the four senses of Scripture.[17]

The literal sense pertains to the meaning of the words themselves, including any figurative meanings.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20][21]

Paragraph 2267 (capital punishment)

One of the changes to the 1997 update consisted of the inclusion of the position on the death penalty that is defended in John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium vitae of 1995.[22]

The paragraph dealing with the death penalty (2267) was revised again by Pope Francis in 2018.

The text previously stated (1997):[23]

The 2018 change to the Catechism reads:[24][23]


In 1992, cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) stated:[25]

[The Catechism of the Catholic Church] 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".[26]

Derived works

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.[27]

Youcat is a 2011 publication aimed at helping youth understand the Catechism.

See also


  1. 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.)


  1. From the Copyright Information, pg. iv.
  2. John, Paul II (11 October 1992). "Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum". 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Fidei depositum". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 11 October 1992. 
  4. "Preface Written by the Holy Father Benedict XVI in YOUCAT, Aids to the Catechism of the Catholic Church for Young People, in view of WYD 2011 in Madrid". 
  5. ""If everything is grace, then grace is no more" (by Gianni Valente)". "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" 
  6. "INTRODUCTION". United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 2006. pp. xv. 
  7. (in fr) Catéchisme de l'Église Catholique. Tours/Paris: Mame/Plon. 1992. ISBN 2-266-00585-5. 
  8. Steinfels, Peter (May 28, 1994). "After Long Delay, a New Catechism Appears in English". The New York Times. 
  9. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 1994. pp. ii. ISBN 978-0-8294-0772-3. 
  10. Bill Dodds (June 14, 2017). "Surfing the Catechism on its silver anniversary". Our Sunday Visitor. 
  11. "Latin Edition of Catechism Promulgated". L'Osservatore Romano. 17 September 1997. 
  12. "Modifications from the Editio Typica". Amministrazione Del Patrimonio Della Sede Apostolica. 
  13. Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraphs 11–2. 
  14. "Fidei Depositum – John Paul II – Apostolic Constitution (11 October 1992)". 
  15. Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. 
  16. Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraphs 101–141. 
  17. Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraphs 111, 113, 115–119. 
  18. Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraphs 116. 
  19. Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2019. Paragraphs 117. 
  20. Scott W. Hahn (2009). Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. Brazos Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 9781441205230. 
  21. 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. 
  22. "The death penalty and the catechism". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Pope Francis: 'death penalty inadmissable' - Vatican News". August 2, 2018. 
  24. "Nuova redazione del n. 2267 del Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica sulla pena di morte". Holy See Press Office. 
  25. "The Catechism of the Catholic Church in Context". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for the Catechism. 1992-12-09. 
  26. Berggren, Lukas (2014-03-14). "Ulf Ekman Says Prophetic Word Confirmed His Catholic Conversion". Charisma News. 
  27. "Catechism of the Catholic Church & Compendium, in All Languages". 

Further reading

External links


Text of the Catechism

Text of the Compendium