Catechism of the Catholic Church
The decision to publish a catechism was taken at the Extraordinary 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 seven-member committee including diocesan bishops and 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.
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 by the U.S. bishops in 1994, 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 encyclical Evangelium 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".
In Fidei depositum, John Paul II declared that the Catechism of the Catholic Church was "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 summary of principles, often in question-and-answer format". Documents of religious instruction have been written since the beginning of Christianity and the catechism is typically an assemblage of these smaller documents into one large compilation of Church doctrine and teachings.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for which the usual English-language abbreviation is CCC, 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." It was given, as stated in the Apostolic Constitution Fidei depositum, with which its publication was ordered, "that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms." The CCC is in fact not in question and answer format. What corresponds the more common idea of a catechism is perhaps the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
CCC is arranged in four principal parts:
- The Profession of Faith (the Apostle's Creed)
- The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (the Sacred Liturgy, especially the sacraments)
- Life in Christ (including The Ten Commandments in Roman Catholic theology)
- 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 CCC (nos. 101–141) 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 "Dei Verbum: Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation", which taught that Scripture should be "read and interpreted in light of the same Spirit by whom it was written" (Dei Verbum 12). The CCC amplifies Dei Verbum by specifying that the necessary spiritual interpretation should be sought through the four senses of Scripture (nos. 111, 113, 115–119), which encompass the literal sense and the three spiritual senses (allegorical, moral, and anagogical).
The literal sense (no. 116) pertains to the meaning of the words themselves, including any figurative meanings. The spiritual senses (no. 117) 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 CCC on Scripture has encouraged the recent pursuit of covenantal theology, an approach that employs the four senses to structure salvation history via the biblical covenants.
American Catholic bishops have stated that, though theological opinion was not intended to be a part of CCC, it in fact "does not distinguish between matters of faith and theological opinion."
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.
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 CCC. 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 of the Catholic Church 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.
- "Fidei Depositum". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 1992-10-11. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- "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.
- 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.
- Catéchisme de l'Église Catholique. Tours/Paris: Mame/Plon. 1992. ISBN 2-266-00585-5.
- copyright 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc., Libreria Editrice Vaticana
- Copyright Information, p. ii.)
- The Latin-text copyright is 1994, 1997, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano.
- "Latin Edition of Catechism Promulgated". L'Osservatore Romano. 1997-09-17. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- "Modifications from the Editio Typica". Amministrazione Del Patrimonio Della Sede Apostolica. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- "The death penalty and the catechism". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- 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.)
- "Dei Verbum: Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation"
- (nos. 111, 113, 115–119)
- Levada, Archbishop William J. (1994-02-07). "The New Catechism: An Overview". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for the Catechism. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- Wrenn, Michael J.; Whitehead, Kenneth D. (1996). Flawed Expectations: The Reception of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Ignatius Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-89870-591-6.
- "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.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, Archive at vatican.va website. Accessed 31 January 2014.
- "Youth Catechism Also Wrong on Euthanasia, Other Religions, Vatican Admits". lifesitenews.com. Accessed 31 January 2014.
- 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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Full CCC text
- 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
Comments on the CCC
- 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?
Text of the Compendium
- Compendium at Vatican/Holy See website available in Byelorussian, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish (as of 31 January 2014)