Confraternity of Christian Doctrine

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Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) is a catechesis program of the Catholic Church, normally for children. It is also the name of an association that traditionally organises Catholic catechesis, which was established in Rome in 1562.

Religious instruction program[edit]

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine is commonly referred to by its abbreviation, CCD, or simply as "Catechism", and provides religious education to Catholic children attending secular schools. In some parishes, CCD is called PSR, meaning Parish School of Religion. Similar to children’s Sunday school in Protestant churches, CCD education is provided by both members of the clergy and lay staff. CCD attendance is considered by the Holy See to be vital to children’s development as Catholics.[undue weight? ] These classes not only educate children about Jesus and the Catholic faith but prepare children to receive the sacraments of Penance (confession), the Eucharist (Holy Communion), and Confirmation.

In schools[edit]

In some jurisdictions, CCD may take place during school hours if the parents wish it. For example, in part of Australia, time is reserved in public schools for Special Religious Education (SRE), where children may be instructed in their parents' faith.[1]

Traditional association[edit]

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was established in Rome in 1562 for giving religious instruction. Organisations called Confraternity of Christian Doctrine have been established in many countries and organise the modern CCD programs.


In the thirteenth century, the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer formed the general basis of religious instruction. All the faithful within the Catholic Church had to know them by heart, and parish priests were commanded to explain them on Sundays and festivals. Eventually, the range of instruction was widened to include the Commandments, the sacraments, the virtues and vices.[2]

In 1281 the Synod of Lambeth, England, ordered priests to explain these truths of faith four times a year. The Provincial Council of Lavours, France, in 1368, expanded this and commanded priests to give instruction on all Sundays and feast days. This council also published a catechism to serve as a textbook for the clergy in giving instructions in Christian doctrine, which was followed in all the dioceses of Languedoc and Gascony. Similar manuals were published elsewhere.[2]

Partly in response to the challenge to uniformity posed by the Reformation, the Council of Trent stated that church reform must begin with the religious instruction of the young. The Council issued the "Catechismus ad Parochos", and decreed that throughout the Church instructions in Christian doctrine should be given on Sundays and festivals.[2]


In 1536, the Abbot Castellino da Castello had inaugurated a system of Sunday schools in Milan. Around 1560, a wealthy Milanese nobleman, Marco de Sadis-Cusani, having established himself in Rome, was joined by a number of zealous associates, both priests and laymen, and pledged to instruct both children and adults in Christian doctrine. Pope Pius IV, in 1562, made the Church of Sant' Apollinare their central institution; but they also gave instructions in schools, in the streets and lanes, and even in private houses. As the association grew, it divided into two sections: the priests formed themselves into a religious congregation, the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, while the laymen remained in the world as "The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine".[2]

Encouragement from the Holy See was quickly forthcoming. In 1571, Pope Pius V, in the Brief "Ex debito pastoralis officii", recommended that bishops establish it in every parish. From Rome it spread rapidly over Italy, France and Germany. It found advocates in Robert Bellarmine, Francis de Sales, and Charles Borromeo, who established it in every parish of his diocese.[3]

Pope Paul V, by the Papal Brief "Ex credito nobis", in 1607, erected it into an archconfraternity, with St. Peter's Basilica in Rome as its headquarters.[4] A rescript of the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences, in 1686, urged its establishment wherever possible.[2]

Pope Pius X was a strong proponent of CCD. In 1905, Pius X in his letter Acerbo nimis mandated the establishment of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (catechism class) in every parish.[5]

If the central confraternity in a diocese is affiliated to the Archconfraternity of Santa Maria del Pianto in Rome, all others participate in all the confraternity indulgences.[2]

Similar groups[edit]

Similar in scope and character to the above are the Pieuses Unions de la Doctrine Chrétienne, founded by the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at Brussels in 1851, for giving religious instruction to boys and girls. In Brussels, they were (as of 1913) found in about thirty parishes. In 1894, Pope Leo XIII erected it into an archconfraternity for Belgium.[2]

The Archconfraternity of Voluntary Catechists (loosely corresponding to the French Oeuvre des Catéchismes) was founded to help parish priests in giving religious instructions to children attending the primary schools in Paris and other parts of France, after these had been laicized. In 1893, Pope Leo XIII gave it the rank of an archconfraternity with power to affiliate all similar confraternities in France.[2]

Present day[edit]

In 2019, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) awarded over $100,000 in grants to fund six projects that promote Catholic biblical literacy and Catholic biblical interpretation. The grants were funded through royalties relative to the New American Bible, which the CCD develops and publishes.[6] The 1986 Revised NAB is the basis of the revised Lectionary, and it is the only translation approved for use at Mass in the Latin-rite Catholic dioceses of the United States and the Philippines,[7]

In the Archdiocese of New York, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was established in 1902 by Archbishop Michael A. Corrigan as proposed by Marion Gurney, who was its first secretary.[8] After Vatican II, the Archdiocese expanded its program beyond the traditional focus on children and youth to include all parishioners. The new program is called "Parish Religious Education/Catechesis".[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney. "What is SRE – Confraternity of Christian Doctrine". Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGlancey, Michael C (1908). "Confraternity of Christian Doctrine". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ "What exactly is the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine?", Catholic Voice, 15 January 2019
  4. ^ "Records of the National Office of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD)", CUA
  5. ^ Avella, Steven M.; Zalar, Jeffrey (Fall 1997), "Sanctity in the Era of Catholic Action: The Case of St. Pius X", Catholic Historian (Spirituality and Devotionalism ed.), US, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 57–80
  6. ^ "Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Funds Catholic Biblical Literacy and Interpretation Projects", USCCB Public Affairs Office, December 12, 2019
  7. ^ "Liturgy: Questions about the Scriptures used during Mass". USCCB.
  8. ^ Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine. "Our History". Archived from the original on 12 May 2017.
  9. ^ "What has become of CCD?", Catechetical Office, Archdiocese of New York