Catechism of the Catholic Church

Prologue 9 The Council of Trent initiated a remarkable organization of the Church’s catechesis. Thanks to the work of holy bishops and theologians such as St. Peter Canisius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo, or St. Robert Bellarmine, it occasioned the publication of numerous catechisms. 10 It is therefore no surprise that catechesis in the Church has again attracted attention in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which Pope Paul VI considered the great catechism of modern times. The General Catechetical Directory (1971), the sessions of the Synod of Bishops devoted to evangelization (1974) and catechesis (1977), the apostolic exhortations Evangelii nuntiandi (1975) and Catechesi tradendae (1979) attest to this. The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 asked “that a catechism or com- pendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composed.” 13 The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, made the Synod’s wish his own, acknowledging that “this desire wholly corresponds to a real need of the universal Church and of the particular Churches.” 14 He set in motion everything needed to carry out the Synod Fathers’ wish. III. T he A im and I ntended R eadership of T his C atechism 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 com- posed in the various countries.” 15 12 This work is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis: first of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pas- tors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfill- ing 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 Chris- tian faithful. IV. S tructure of T his C atechism 13 The plan of this catechism is inspired by the great tradition of catechisms which build catechesis on four pillars: the baptismal profession of faith (the Creed ), the sacraments of faith, the life of 13 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985, Final Report, II B a, 4. 14 John Paul II, Discourse at the Closing of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, December 7, 1985: AAS 78 (1986). 15 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985, Final Report II B a, 4.