Editorial Commission of the Catechism of the
LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 1992
On November 15, 1986 the "ad
hoc" Commission appointed by His Holiness John
Paul II to prepare a Catechism for the Universal Church
met for the first time; on February 14, 1992 it
concluded its work; on June 25, 1992 the Supreme
Pontiff will proceed to the formal act of approval of
the text submitted to him by the Commission. The work
will be entitled: "Catechism of the Catholic
The composition of the Commission, which was
highly representative; the more than five years of
intensive work; the wide and, in several ways,
qualified consultation on the level of the universal
Church: these are elements for which it is to be
expected that this new Catechism will enter history
as a document that is not unworthy of the Ecumenical
Council, which is an ideal point of reference to the
Catechism and it will remain a work of permanent
utility for pastors and catechists of the present
generation as well as those of the third millennium,
for whose service it was intended.
In order to facilitate the reception of the
Catechism of the Catholic Church by the interested
persons, but who are not as familiar with tlis kind
of document and its literary genre, the editorial
Commission thought to gather in a short, organic
dossier some illustrative notes: 1) A note on "
What is a catechism?", 2) The iter of the
"Catechism of the Catholic Church", 3)
Characteristics of the "Catechism of the
Catholic Church", 4) A brief Index of the
With reference to the catechism, Albino Luciani, a
great catechist even during his few days on the See of
Peter as John Paul I, in his book "New grains of
catechesis" (Nuove briciole di catechetica,
Vittorio Veneto, 1961, p. 50)
"Blessed be the Catechism! It is the
'king of books' used to say Pius XI, while
Pius XII said: 'That small book is in itself more
valuable than a huge encyclopedia; it contains the
truths that are to be believed, the obligations that
are to be fulfilled, the means for one's
sanctification. What is there of more importance on
earth? It is the book of wisdom, the art of living
well, the peace of the soul, security in one's
trial. It teaches us how to please God' (Pius
XII, 8 June 1952)."
These words can also be applied to the Catechism
of the Catholic Church. May this dossier help to
prepare a good and receptive ground that the precious
seed sown by the Catechism of the Catholic Church may
yield abundant fruits.
Vatican City, June 15, 1992.
Giovanni Lajolo, President, Editorial
in The History of the Church
In front of the
Catechism of the Catholic Church,
there arise, here and there, among other things, the
what is, properly speaking, a
"catechism"? Since when have
"catechisms" existed in the
Origin of the word
It derives from "catechesis ", a word
which the ancient Greeks used in reference to the
theatre and which means "to make resound like an
1. This word, which appears neither in the
Old Testament nor in the Gospels, was taken up by the
nascent Church to indicate the primordial duty to make
disciples (cf. Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline
Letters). The proclamation of salvation was to be
2, the deeds and the work had to provoke an
"echo" in the mind and in the heart of the
listeners, to transform all their life. The
"book" which, as time went by, became the
normal aid for this duty was called
What is a catechism
In a more common sense, a so-called text is that
which contains the fundamental Christian truths,
formulated in a clear way so that their understanding,
apprehension and lively reception are made easier.
One should immediately clarify that this
didactic-religious genre may assume very different
concrete expressions according to their addressees:
from bishops, parish priests or catechists who will
make use ofamong other thingssuch an
catechismus maior; up to the child,
the young person or the adult, in different levels and
circumstances, who are catechized by means of this
A book with various titles and
sub-titles It is to be recalled that
throughout the centuries various titles were used,
together with or in place of that of catechism: for
example, " Christian Doctrine",
"Compendium of the Faith",
"Cartilla", or, as it has already been said,
the catechism texts were sub-titled "Major",
"Minor", "Parvus", etc... These
vary partially either in their structure or in their
particular aspect which they underline, but, because of
their contents and finality, enter in the general
Were they always books?
Almost always, though in a reduced number of copies
prior to the invention of printing. In ancient times
and in the Middle Ages, to make good for the lack of
manual copies, the system of "tablets" was
used; on these " tablets " the truths of the
faith and the prayers were inscribed and were put in a
place in the house or Church where they could be easily
seen, so that everybody could understand their content.
In other times, they were "illustrated
catechisms" which served not only the illiterate
but also the whole community as didactic aids.
Since when do Catechisms exist?
In a wide sense, they are found since ancient times.
Here several stages are to be pointed out in a
historical trajectory which reaches the actual form. In
this rapid overlook reference is made only to some
salient examples, although it would be important to
underline the multiple and varied
compositionthroughout all the
centuriesof these means of catechesis.
In the Old Testament the word
3 It is given the meaning of transmission of
the Word of God as a teaching of life. Thus, in
Deut 4:10 we read: "Gather the people to
me, that I may let them hear my words so that they may
learn to fear me all the days that they live upon the
earth, and that they may teach their children so".
Deut 11:19-20: "And you shell teach them
to your children, talking of them... And you shall
write them upon the doorposts of your house".
In the New Testament, the Gospels are the first
great "Catechism" which was transmitted
orally and then put to writing. Jesus
"teaches" and "preaches" (
Luke 21:37). The Sermon of the Mount (
Matt 5:2) speaks of the "teaching to the
disciples". This mission was handed over to Peter
with the office of the "keys" which, in
Hebrew mentality, meant, amongst others, the office of
teaching. In the Acts and the Pauline Letters the word
"to catechize" appears already as the
instruction regarding the salvific action of God.
In Syria, at the end of the first century, the
"Didach" or "Doctrine of the
Apostles" was compiled.
4 It was a guide to instruct those who were
preparing to be baptised as well as to dispose all the
life of the community according to a scheme of the
"two ways", that of "life" and that
In the beginning of the V Century, an exceptional
author, St Augustine, on the request of a catechist,
writes 27 chapters in which he tries to help deepen the
faith of those Christians who, though educated in
profane knowledge, were "rude" in the
religious one. Thus he entitles his work
De catechizandis rudibus.
5 He begins with the history of salvation
which culminates in the charity brought by Jesus
Christ, who through his Resurrection gives joy to the
catechist and the one being catechized. As all the
works of St Augustine, even this one has remained of
In the IX century, Alcuino, the great promoter of
the cultural Renaissance during the time of Charles the
Great, is attributed the redaction of
Disputatio puerorum per interrogationes et
6 (an exposition for children in questions
and answers). It includes sacred history and the
doctrine on the Sacraments, the Creed and the Our
Father. The title indicates already its method and is a
forerunner of modern catechisms. It was widely used
until the XII century. The vernacular language was used
for the catechesis of this period.
"More recent" antecedents
In the XII century we read in the Book of the
Sentences of Peter Lombard
7 that the book which contained the basic
interrogation for baptism or for the subsequent
formation was called "catechism"; but still
the word did not enter current use.
Other works, such as the "Lucidari" and
8, adopted different schemes but they aimed
always at the same aim: catechizing. These latter works
spread widely and made use of the original method of
comparing or contrasting seven parts: the seven
requests of the Our Father, in relation to the seven
Beatitudes and to the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Or else, the seven principal virtues contrasted to the
seven capital vices.
In the middle of the XIII Century St Thomas
Aquinaswidely known for this theological
workspreached in a simple style and in a
popular language. Thus short works with a scheme which
will be proper of catechisms cropped up: that which one
is to believe (Creed); that which one is to hope (Our
Father); that which one is to do (the Commandments);
grace for all the Christian life (the Sacraments)
Properly called Catechisms
In the XIV Century (1357), the Archbishop of York
published the " Lay Folks Catechism
10 which included the Creed, the Sacraments,
the two precepts of charity, the seven capital sins and
the seven fundamental virtues.
For the first time the name
Catechism was explicitly used. It
was published in two languages, Latin and English, for
popular use. Already several other times catechetical
works were written in the vernacular language for those
people who did not normally use Latin.
Later on, in 1368, the text of the First Canon of
the Synod of Lavaur (Narbonne)
11 is yet again a
Catechismus Maior, for the clerics. Its
catechistical aim appears clear through its contents
and the need of its apprehension. It was used to teach
the people on Sundays and on Feast days.
In the XV Century an important decree of the Council
of Tortosa in 1429
12 prescribed the redaction of "a brief
and useful summary of the
Christian Doctrine ..." which was also
called the "
brief compendium". These titles appear
here as synonyms of catechism.
The great century of Catechisms
In the midst of the XVI Century, as a mature result
of the Council of Trent, we find the Catechism
published in 1566
13. Its official name is
Catechismus ex Decreto Concilii Tridentini ad
Parochos, although it is better known as the
Catechism of "St Pius V" or the Roman
Catechismus Maior was redacted for the Parish
Priests with the aim of helping them in their duty of
teaching the faith to the people. It was then a
difficult moment, when the need for a self-reform and
the defence of the faith in front of the Protestant
division was felt. The doctrinal and methodological
features of this Roman Catechism were so dear that it
became a model for both its time and beyond.
From the Roman Catechism onwards, did the
catechisms become uniform?
First of all, we should distinguish between unity
and uniformity. The latter suggests one single scheme
while the former safeguards the essence, leaving space
The Catechism of Trent brought about unity but
without effacing the efficacy of those other texts
which had already proved their validity.
In this regard we can quote the example of the
Catechisms (Maior, Minimus and Minor) that St Peter
Canisius, as from 1555, began to publish in Germany
14. These texts were concrete and permeated
with Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church.
Without entering into any controversy, they ascertained
that which needed to be so from a Christian point of
view in that moment and in that particular European
region. They were so widely spread that the expression
"to know Canisius" became synonymous with
"to know the Catechism". Their reprintings
were more than 400 and were translated into some 50
languages, so that the concrete circumstances which
were at the origin of their redaction were completely
At the same time, it should be noted that the Roman
Catechism encouraged also the redaction of new texts,
which, though originating and referring to the
Tridentine one, they presented, however, originality in
their consideration of both their addressees and the
particular circumstances. An obvious example of this
can be found in Latin America in the
Catecismo del Tercer Concilio de Lima. It is
written in three languages (Castellan-Quechua-Aymara)
and it is the result of the creativity proper to the
best of catechists. In fact, as it is stated in the
introduction, it follows in the footsteps of the
General Council of Trent "in essence and
order" while "in its mood and style" it
adapts itself to the native people
15. Hence, it incorporated methodologically
the thematic proper to the autochthonous peoples both
in its exposition of the "Doctrina Cristiana y
Catecismo" and in its "Confesionario"
and "Sermonario". Some of these texts were
addressed to priests, while others were addressed to
the indios, in a more developed or in a briefer
version. The different books which formed this
Catechism were printed in Peru, between 1584 and
Luther, Calvin as well as others availed
themselves of the experience of Catechisms
Martin Luther, in 1529, using the material of his
catechetical sermons wrote his
Catechismus Maior, as a guide to the preachers
of his reform. Later he wrote another one for
"children and simple people", which he even
16. The reprintings were many and their
influence was great in the spreading of Protestantism.
Also other reformers, among whom Calvin, made use of
this genre to teach people their new doctrines. The
efficacy of this "book" had already been
proved and thus all employed this indispensable aid for
the religious formation at all levels.
Every century, every country, every diocese
continued to produce catechisms
It would be too long to list all the catechisms that
were published in every region since the Council of
Trent up to our days. We recall only some authors
(without excluding others): St Robert Bellarmine,
Astete, Fleury, Casati, Migazzi, Deharbe, Dupanloup,
'St Pius X' ...
The request of the 1985 Synod marks a
And the new catechism? Many speak about it; they
believe that it would be the "only
catechism"; however, it will be for the Catholic
basis and the
point of reference for the preparation of
local catechisms. The
whole Church, consulted through its Bishops,
has participated in its progressive preparation. It
will encourage the use of creativity in evangelization
on the eve of the third millennium. It will continue on
the best of the Catholic catechistical tradition.
1 Etymology and use of the word
Dizionario da Concetti Biblici del Nuevo
Testamento, EDB, Bologna 1986, p. 533 s; J.A.
Catequtica, Barcelona 1964; J.J.
Rodriguez Medina, Pedagogia de la
Fe, Madrid 1972.
2 First proclamation or "kerygma":
Dizionario dei Concetti Bib1ici..., p.
3Etymology and use of the word
"didach": cf. Dizionario di Concetti
Biblici..., p. 521 s.
4Cf. Didach, edit. by P. Aubert,
5Cf. St Augustine,
De catechizandis rudibus, Rome 1984.
6Cf. P.L., t. 101, CC. 1097-1144.
7 Cf. Petri Lombardi,
Libri IV Sententiarum, t. II, dist. VI, Cap.
8 Cf. P.L., t. 172, cc. 1109-1176 and t.
175, cc. 405-414.
9Cf. Tommaso D Aquino,
Fede e opere..., a cura di E. Sonzini, Rome
1981, Tommaso D'Aquino,
Opera Omnia, t. XXVII.
The Lay Folks Catechism or The English anl Latin
Versions of Archbistop Thoresby's Instruction for
the People, Intr., ... by T.F. Simmons and H.E.
Nolloth, in Early English Texts Society, Orig. Series
N. 118, London 1901.
11Cf. Mansi, t. XXVI, cc. 484-493.
12 Cf. Mansi, t. XXVIII, cc. 1147-1148.
Catechismus Romanus seu Catechismus ex Decreto
Concilii Tridentini ad Parochos Pii Quinti Pont. Max.
Iussu Editus, Edit. praefuit P. Rodriguez..., LEV
et E.U. Navarra 1989.
14Cf. Petrus Canisius,
Catechismo Minore, Trento 1767.
15Cf. Tercer Concilio Limense 1582-1583,
Intr. by E. Barta, Lima 1982.
16Cf. M. Lutero,
Scritti Religiosi, a cura di A. Vinay, Torino
Catechism of The Catholic Church
Course of Its Preparation
Catechism of the Catholic Church is the fruit of a
multifaceted undertaking whose most important stages
can be briefly summarized as follows:
The recommendation of the Synod of Bishops:
"There were many who expressed the wish
that a catechism or a compendium of all Catholic
doctrine regarding both faith and morals be
prepared so that it could serve as a kind of point
of reference for catechisms or compendia prepared
in different regions. The presentation of doctrine
should be biblical and liturgical. It is to embody
a sound doctrine applied to the present life of
Relatio Finalis, II, B, 4).
10 July 1986:
Decision of the Holy Father to appoint a
Commission of Cardinals and Bishops for the
preparation of a catechism project for the
universal Church or a compendium of Catholic
doctrine (of faith and morals) which could be a
point of reference for the catechisms prepared or
to be prepared in various regions.
First meeting of the Commission to indicate the
fundamental elements of the text (nature, aim,
characteristics, identification of those to whom it
is to be directed, timetable ...);
--- preparation of two successive schemes;
--- December: elaboration of a preliminary
project for which 40 international experts are
The Commission examines a
project of the catechism to be
sent to all Bishops for their observations;
A revised project is sent to all Bishops for the
intended consultation (to last until May 1990);
June - October 1990:
Examination and evaluation of the responses
submitted by the Bishops. Outcome of the
consultation with the Bishops:
----- agreement in considering as necessary and
timely, as well as urgent, a single catechetical
text for the entire Catholic Church to serve as a
point of reference for the
composition of national and diocesan
----- differentiations and distinctions
concerning the contents and the reductional style
of the text;
----- positive evaluation of the revised
project, considered a sound basis to support the
great number of suggested amendments (more than
24,000), in view of the final edition of the
November 1990 - September 1991:
In the light of the results of the consultation,
preparation of a new project of the catechism for
the universal church (first, the "textus
emendatus", and then the "pro-
definitive" text: first and second corrected
Examination and evaluation by the Commission of
the corrected " pro-definitive version "
(the seventh edition, from the beginning of the
November 1991 - February 1992:
Preparation of the definitive project of the
14 February 1992:
Unanimous approval by the Commission of the
"definitive project" of the Catechism of
the Catholic Church, to be presented to the Holy
Father for his judgment.
30 April 1992:
Definitive revision of the "Catechism of
the Catholic Church".
25 June 1992:
Official approval by the Holy Father of the
Dates of the Various
"Adumbratio Schematis". . . . . . . .
. . . . . . (February 1987)
Preliminary Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . (December 1987)
Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . (February 1989)
Revised Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . (November 1989)
"Textus emendatus". . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . (March 1991)
Pre-definitive Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . .(May 1991)
Pre-definitive Text (corrected version) . . .
(28 August 1991)
Definitive Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . (8 December 1991)
Definitive Project (as voted by the Commission)
(14 February 1992)
Catechismus Ecclesiae Catholicae
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The present "note" can only be incomplete
and informal, owing to limitations of time and space.
It aims to offer a point of departure for a further
deeper and more comprehensive reflection.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is
as an instrument to convey the essential and
fundamental content of Catholic faith and morals (
tam de fide quam de moribus), in a
complete and summary way (
non omnia sed totem);
as a point of reference for national and
diocesan catechisms, whose mediation is
as a positive and objective exposition of
as a text in the line of catechetical tradition,
and in particular in that which finds expression in
catechismus maior, that is, the catechism
meant for the promoters and teachers of catechesis
(Pastores), who have the duty to catechize (as
compared to the
catechismus minor meant for those who
profit from catechesis: young adults and
as a text of the Magisterium, in the sense that
it was suggested by a Synod of Bishops, desired by
the Holy Father, prepared in its redaction by
Bishops, was the fruit of the consultation of the
episcopate and approved by the Holy Father in his
It is characterized by its concerns for essentials,
its conciseness, sobriety, incisiveness and
In presenting an orderly and organic structure of
the material, it is also attentive to the current
socio-cultural-ecclesial context, but only to those
elements which are recognized as universally valid,
while it is for the national catechisms to pay
attention to more particular aspects.
In it, pedagogic indications and
methodological/didactic applications are avoided in so
far as these vary according to those to whom the
catechesis is directed and to cultural contexts. These
considerations are left to the national and diocesan
Its style, rather than being apologetic, is
declarative. It aims at proclaiming the Christian truth
with the certainty proper to the Church, endeavouring
on the one hand to respect the different levels of
certainty which the Church has of the several themes,
and, on the other hand, to avoid theological
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is addressed
first and foremost to the Bishops, in so far as they
are the doctors of the Faith, then to the compilers of
catechisms, and through them, to all the People of
The following gradation obtains:
----- in the first place the Bishops, who have the
first responsibility in catechesis;
----- then the redactors of catechisms;
----- finally, the other members of the People of
In continuing one of the most dominant catechistical
traditions, it is divided into four parts: what the
Catholic Church believes (part 1), celebrates (part 2),
lives (part 3) and prays (part 4). Thus the different
parts are respectively centered on the Creed, the
Sacraments, the Commandments, and the Our Father.
The Text draws abundantly from Sacred Scripture, the
western and eastern traditions of the Church (in
particular the Chucch Fathers), Liturgy, the
Magisterium, the Code of Canon Law, and the life and
the teachings of the saints.
Although it cannot be called the "Catechism of
the Second Vatican Council", since it was not
mandated by the Council, nevertheless in several ways
the Catechism of the Catholic Church is related to the
Second Vatican Council:
the proposal of such a Catechism owes its origin
to the 1985 Extraordinary Synod, convened 20 years
after the close of the Second Vatican Council to
celebrate that event and to sustain and rekindle
the application of the conciliar Magisterium;
the contents of the Catechism reflect
essentially, even though not exclusively, the
Second Vatican Council;
the Catechism is dedicated to the full and
faithful expression and implementation of the
teaching of the Second Vatican Council.
Particular attention was given to the missionary
dimension, which apart from being explicitly and
specifically dealt with in various places in the
Catechism, permeates and animates the whole text.
This is evident:
in keeping constantly in mind throughout the
several parts of the Catechism the central nucleus
of the Christian proclamation: the unversal
salvific will of God that is fully realized in
Christ, dead and risen, who giving his Spirit,
continues to be present and to act in all times and
places in the Church.
in positively presenting the originality and the
novelty of the Christian proclamation;
in giving an open and constructive vision to the
dialogue with non-Christian religions, according to
the model offered by the conciliar document
In this regard, although it leaves it to the
national catechisms to deal in a more detailed and
specific manner with the non-Christian religions
present in their own regions, the Catechism presents in
a general way the non-Christian religions. It does this
while maintaining the unity between the anthropological
and theological perspectives and using the categories
which refer to the
home religiosus, the
car inquietum, the
praeparatio evangelica, and to the
manifestation of God to the world.
Some particular aspects
Hierarchy of Truths
Although this expression is not fully adequate, it
can be used to signify a particular attention to the
objectivity of the Christian Revelation itself, as
lived and integrally taught by the Church, perceiving
the "proximity" of every truth to the central
nucleus of the Faith and hence the interdependence of
the Christian truths which refer to and complete one
Seeking to remain faithful to the doctrinal and
catechetical tradition, and at the same time to respect
the distinction between divinely revealed truths and
other truths, which although not directly revealed by
God, are proposed by the Church, the Catechism thus
intends to show the organic unity (the symphony, the
ordo-nexus) of Christian truths, their
interrelation and their reference to the center which
is Christ, and the relation between the
lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
The same fourfold structure of the Catechism offers
in this manner an organic articulation of the truths of
In as much as these are synthetic propositions that
summarize very important themes in a simple and concise
form, they are presented as a "memory" of the
Church's faith, helping to express, recall, and
live the single faith in various times and places.
Intentionally taking up biblical, liturgical,
patristic, and magisterial texts they condense in an
essential and synthetic way what has been referred to
as important in the previous paragraphs.
Coming at the end of every "unity of
meaning", they further the acquisition of a clear
Christian identity and a common language of the faith;
they help concretely the passage from doctrine to
catechesis; they offer models of a summary exposition
(doctrinal substance) of the faith for national and
diocesan catechisms. These latter have a mediating
role. They should take into account both local
socio-cultural elements and the various groups or
categories of those to be addressed.
They endeavour also to facilitate memorization, even
though this is left to the national catechisms in so
far as each language is characterized by its own
cadence, rhythm, rhyme, musicality ...
The use of Sacred Scripture
It must be said, first of all, that the Catechism
does not want to be a study of scientific exegesis nor
does it intend to present any exegetical
Although aware of the difficulties, today
particularly serious, that the correct use of Sacred
Scripture presents, the editors sought to adhere to the
methodology indicated by
Del Verbum, and in particular to the
analogia scripturae. This involves that a
scripture text be read and interpreted, with the help
of the Holy Spirit, in the organic unity of the whole
of Sacred Scripture, whose principal author is God who
"chose certain men who, all the while he employed
them in this task, made full use of their powers and
faculties, so that, though he acted in them and by
them, it was as true authors that they consigned to
writing whatever he wanted written, and no more" (
Dei Verbum 11).
Due to the catechetical context, short biblical
quotations were preferred, while series of quotations
and use of ornamental ones were avoided. In regard to
the Gospels, the text uses all four according to need
and without any exclusion or preclusion.
It is also to be said that the text was attentively
revised in its use of biblical quotations by a group of
Consultation of the Catholic
Consultation of the Catholic Bishops of the world,
as well as with the Episcopal Conferences, and through
them, with the main Catholic university institutes took
place between November 1, 1989 and May 1990, allowing a
further five-month extension for late submissions.
It concerned the examination of the revised project,
translated into the four main current languages
(English, French, Spanish, German) and printed in some
5,000 copies, and sent to all the different parts of
the world through the service of the Pontifical
The total number of answers received by October 15,
1990 was 938.
These were received:
Elements of Evaluation
Every answer received was examined at least twice
in its general contents both on the whole and its
single parts. The first examination included a
synthetic reading done by the staff of the
secretariat; the second, including a more analytical
and expert reading, was done by the members of the
editorial committee in its July 1990 meeting.
A committee of theologians, coming from different
linguistic areas and specialized in the main
theological disciplines, analyzed the more than
24,000 amendments made on the single paragraphs.
It was thus possible to come up with (thanks also
to the use of the computer) a composite picture, as
complete and objective as possible, of the received
answers, as well as to delineate some tendencies
which can be summarized as follows:
a) In general, the number and tenor of the answers
showed that the revised project was well received by
the Bishops, read attentively in all or in part, and
evaluated diligently. Thus, the Commission could
verify the great commitment of study, reflection, as
well as prayer, devoted to the text by the Bishops
who responded, who thus expressed their
sollecitudo omnium ecclesiarum.
b) Almost unanimously, all those who sent in their
judgments agreed in considering necessary, timely,
and urgent, a single catechetical text for the whole
Catholic Church to serve as a
point of reference for the
preparation of national and diocesan catechisms.
Differentiations and distinctions concerned a)
"what" to call it and "how" to
compile it; b) its contents; and c) its redactional
However, that such a point of reference for
today's catechesis in the world is desirable and
even urgent was something agreed upon by almost all
of those who sent in their answers.
c) The revised project, sent to the Bishops for
their evaluations, was considered to be a
sound basis to support the great
number of suggested amendments with a view toward the
final edition of the text.
d) In regard to the representativeness of the
responses received, the following can be said:
dl) the answers are representative of the large
geographical areas: about 40% of the answers came
from the two Americas, 31% from Europe, 15% from
Asia, 11% from Africa, 3% from Australia and
statistical ratio remained
unaltered in successive examination of 200, then
400, then 600, and 900 responses.
The percentage of those who judged the
"Revised Project" very positive,
positive, satisfactory, rather negative, or very
negative remained constant with the increase of the
number of responses. The following table indicates
the statistics as of October 15, 1990 and, within
brackets, those of the end of May 1990:
The negative answers were only about 10%
which corresponds to the percentage of negative
votes obtained in the voting on documents at
Vatican Council II.
d3) The consultation was characterized by a
considerable representativeness in
respect to content. The almost 1,000
responses, with more than 24,000 amendments,
concerned all the single parts, and, it could
be said, all the topics dealt with in the
Limits of the Catechism
of the Catholic Church
These limits refer to those which are proper
to any catechism as such.
1.1 As in any catechism, the Catechism of the
Catholic Church is
one of the means of catechesis, which, in
its turn, is one of the ways of carrying out the
prophetic ministry, which in union with the
priestly and kingly ministries, constitutes the
mission of the Church.
a) The catechism is
an instrument, a means for
catechesis, an ecclesial activity which
is multifaceted and complex. It involves, in
fact, different and complementary elements: the
catechist, those to whom the catechesis is
directed, the contents, the methods, the means,
the sociocultural-ecclesial contexts ...
b) The catechism is
only one of the means of
catechesis. Although it is a privileged means, it
is not the only and exclusive one. Other means or
instruments of catechesis are, for example:
audiovisual aids, computer aids, figurative art,
monuments, models ...
c) Catechesis is also
one of the expressions (not the
only and exclusive one) of the
prophetic ministry of the Church, which
is intimately connected and interrelated to the
priestly and kingly ministry of the Church. In
fact, the prophetic, priestly and kingly
ministries are the three dimensions, coordinated
among themselves, complementary, and
interdependent, of the one indivisible mission of
the Church. Apart from catechesis, other
expressions of the prophetic ministry of the
Church include: evangelization, the homily,
theological research, the teaching of religion,
the celebration of the Word ...
These " contingent" limits refer to
those limits which are particular to the Kind of
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
2.1 it is addressed to the whole Church,
realized in different places, and thus
necessarily it cannot embody al1 the peculiar and
specific aspects of the multiform local
2.2 it can express neither the peculiar
characteristics of the different cultures, nor
the different anthropological typologies which
are manifested in the whole world, nor the
characterizations proper to every age-group of
2.3 hence, it necessarily requires the
further indispensable mediation
of the national and diocesan catechisms, which
are to pay particular attention both to the
different socio- cultural-ecclesial contexts and
to the peculiar characterizations of the
different categories of those to whom the
catechesis is directed, as distinguished by their
age-group (infants, children, adolescents,
youths, young adults, adults, and the elderly),
by their "belonging to a social group"
(family, parish, school, other group ...), by
2.4 pertaining to the literary genre of
catechismus maior, it is necessarily attentive to
the content aspect of catechesis. It expresses
"Who" the Church
proclaims in her belief, celebration, life, and
prayer. It leaves to the national catechisms the
other aspects, though relevant, involved in
catechesis (for example, "who
"how" the proclamation takes
placethe method; "to whom it is
proclaimed"the addressee ...);
2.5 it thus intentionally avoids entering into
the vast and complex area of pedagogical factors
and methodological and didactic applications (all
of which are left to the local catechisms);
2.6 it is a "collegial" work. This
characteristic, which presents many positive
aspects and assures the notable and indisputable
value of this work, might have influenced at the
same time in a negative way the reductional
homogeneity of the text, which is the result, as
it is known, of the work of numerous and
different people, of the support of the
consultation with the universal episcopate, of
the attentive revision carried out by numerous
persons competent in the different theological
disciplines (exegetes, dogmatic, liturgical,
moral, catechetical and pastoral theologians
(End of May)
consider the Revised Project "very
consider it "good"
consider it satisfactory with
From the dicasteries of the Holy See
From individual bishops
from groups of bishops, other than the
Episcopal Conferences, representing 295 bishops
(thus amounting to 1092 bishops)
from Episcopal Conferences
from Theological Institutes