50 Questions - The
1. What is a catechism?
A catechism is a text which
contains the fundamental Christian truths formulated in a way that
facilitates their understanding. There are two categories of
catechism: major and minor. A major catechism is a resource or a
point of reference for the development of minor catechisms. The
Catechism of the Catholic Church is an example of a major
catechism. The Baltimore Catechism is an example of a minor
2. What is a "universal catechism?"
A "universal catechism" is a
major catechism which is intended to be a resource or point of
reference for the development of national or local catechisms and
catechetical materials throughout the world. Such a catechism can be
termed "universal" in that its primary audience is the universal
3. Is the Catechism of the Catholic Church a "universal
Yes. Insofar as it is intended
to be a resource or point of reference for the development of minor
catechisms throughout the universal Church, it is a "universal
catechism." The Catechism of the Catholic Church was titled
the Catechism of the Universal Church in an earlier draft,
but it was never officially titled the "universal Catechism." The
Catechism is in need of what its Prologue terms "the
indispensible mediation" of particular culture, age, spiritual life
and social and ecclesial conditions. The Catechism is
"universal," then, because it is intended for use by the universal
4. What is a brief history of the Catechism?
The Catechism of the Catholic
Church originated with a recommendation made at the
Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985. In 1986 the Holy Father
appointed a Commission of Cardinals and Bishops to develop a
compendium of Catholic doctrine. In 1989 the Commission sent the
text to all the Bishops of the world for consultation. In 1990 the
Commission examined and evaluated over 24,000 amendments suggested
by the world's bishops. The final draft is considerably different
from the one that was circulated in 1989. In 1991 the Commission
prepared the text for the Holy Father's official approval. On June
25, 1992 the Holy Father officially approved the definitive version
of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. On December 8, 1992
the Holy Father promulgated the Catechism with an apostolic
5. What is the purpose of the Catechism?
The Catechism serves
several important functions:
a) It conveys the essential
and fundamental content of Catholic faith and morals in a complete
and summary way.
b) It is a point of reference
for national and diocesan catechisms.
c) It is a positive, objective
and declarative exposition of Catholic doctrine.
d) It is intended to assist
those who have the duty to catechize, namely promoters and
teachers of catechesis.
6. For whom is the Catechism intended?
The Catechism is
intended, first of all, for bishops as teachers of the faith and
pastors of the Church. They have the first responsibility in
catechesis. Through the bishops, the Catechism is addressed
to editors of catechisms, priests, catechists and all others
responsible for catechesis. It will also be useful reading for all
While the Catechism is
not intended for direct use by young people or children, the Holy
Father has said that the Catechism "is offered to all the
faithful who want to understand better the inexhaustible riches of
7. How, then, will children and young people use the new
Children and young people -
under the direction of a catechist, teacher or parent - ordinarily
use texts that are developed from a variety of sources, some of
which are similar to the new Catechism, such as The
National Catechetical Directory and Basic Teachings for Catholic
Religious Education. The new Catechism will serve as a
point of reference for the development of such catechetical texts
which in turn are directly used by children and young people with
the assistance of catechists, teachers and parents.
8. Does the new Catechism contain a methodology for its use by
No. The new Catechism
does not include a methodology. It is a complete and accurate
exposition of Catholic doctrine. It does not present methodologies
for the communication and study of that doctrine by people of
different ages and circumstances throughout the world. Methodology
varies according to the developmental levels of those to whom the
catechesis is directed and according to the cultural contexts in
which catechesis is given.
9. How is the new Catechism a "point of reference?"
The new Catechism is a
"point of reference" primarily for the development of national and
local catechisms. We do not have a national catechism in the United
States. Neither are there diocesan or local catechisms presently in
use in the dioceses of the United States. Catholics in the United
States ordinarily depend on catechetical materials that present what
the Church believes, teaches, lives and prays in a comprehensive and
systematic manner within a process that spans many years. The new
Catechism will be a "point of reference" for the development of
these kinds of catechetical programs as well as for catechetical
materials that will be revised or developed in the future.
Secondarily, the new
Catechism is a "point of reference" for bishops, priests,
catechists, teachers, preachers, scholars, students and authors.
Similar to a Bible commentary or theological dictionary, the new
Catechism will serve as a vital reference work for all those
responsible for catechesis.
10. What exactly is in the new Catechism?
The new Catechism
contains the essential and fundamental content of the Catholic faith
in a complete and summary way. It presents what Catholics throughout
the world believe in common. It presents these truths in a way that
facilitates their understanding.
The new Catechism
presents Catholic doctrine within the context of the Church's
history and tradition. Frequent references to Sacred Scripture, the
writings of the Fathers, the lives and writings of the saints,
conciliar and papal documents and liturgical texts enrich the
Catechism in a way that is both inviting and challenging. There
are over three thousand footnotes in the Catechism.
11. How is all this organized in the new Catechism?
The new Catechism, like
the Catechism of the Council of Trent, is divided into four major
parts. They are referred to as the "four pillars" on which the
Catechism is built. In his Apostolic Constitution promulgating
the Catechism, the Holy Father called them the "four
movements of a great symphony." They are 1) the Creed (what the
Church believes), 2) the Sacraments (what the Church celebrates), 3)
the Commandments (what the Church lives) and 4) the Our Father (what
the Church prays).
The Catechism consists of
2,865 paragraphs, each of which is numbered. There is an internal
cross-referencing system among the paragraphs which makes it simple
to find all the passages in the Catechism which treat a particular
subject. In addition, the Catechism provides several indices
for ease in locating particular passages. Indices are organized
according to themes, Scriptural citations, symbols of the faith,
documents of ecumenical councils, documents of other councils and
synods, pontifical documents, ecclesiastical documents, canon law,
liturgical texts and ecclesiastical authors.
12. Is the new Catechism intended to replace other
catechetical documents of the Church?
No. The new Catechism is
intended to stand beside the other catechetical documents such as,
Catechesi Tradendae, Evangelii Nuntiandi, The General
Catechetical Directory and the catechetical documents of
episcopal conferences. These documents create part of the context in
which the new Catechism is received and mediated to the
particular circumstances of the local or national Church. The new
Catechism is intended to be a resource for the continuing
renewal of catechesis and the development of future catechetical
13. What is the teaching authority of the new Catechism?
The Catechism is part of
the Church's official teaching in the sense that it was suggested by
a Synod of Bishops, requested by the Holy Father, prepared and
revised by bishops and promulgated by the Holy Father as part of his
ordinary Magisterium. The Holy Father has said that the Catechism
"is given to serve as a sure and authentic source book for the
teaching of Catholic doctrine."
14. Is the new Catechism simply a list of doctrinal
No. The new Catechism
presents the history and tradition of the Church's doctrine in a
complete yet summary way. It draws heavily from Scripture,
Patristics, Liturgical texts and the lives and writings of the
saints to illustrate the doctrinal content. The witness of these
sources, especially the words and example of saints and scholars,
underscores the Church's ongoing, living tradition.
15. Is this new Catechism intended to be used "as is"
in all the pluriform Churches throughout the world that make up the
Although it will be translated
into several languages, there is only one new Catechism for
the whole Church. The new Catechism contains what the Church
holds and teaches throughout the world. It is a resource for the
development of culturally-sensitive catechisms and catechetical
materials. By its own acknowledgment, the Catechism does not
intend to achieve this cultural sensitivity itself. Rather "such
indispensable adaptation, required by differences of culture, age,
spiritual life, and social and ecclesial condition among God's
people," belongs in other catechisms inspired by this work, and is
the particular task of those who teach the faith.
16. How will the new Catechism be "adapted" to the
multi-cultural situation of the Church in the United States?
This is the task that lies ahead
for the bishops and the authors, editors and publishers of
catechetical materials. The revision of catechetical materials
presently in use in the dioceses of the United States and the
development of any new materials will have to take the new
Catechism's entire content as well as its general directive for
"indispensable adaptation" very seriously. Together they will have
to find ways to communicate the Church's universal teaching as it is
expressed in the experience of the Church in the United States. That
experience is multicultural, therefore any catechetical materials
developed from the new Catechism will have to be faithful to
particular cultural experiences as well as to the entire content of
the new Catechism.
17. What is the doctrinal authority of the Catechism?
The Holy Father ordered the
publication of the Catechism by the Apostolic Constitution,
Fidei Depositum, on October 11, 1992. An apostolic
constitution is a most solemn form by which popes promulgate
official Church documents. The new Code of Canon Law, for example,
was promulgated by the Apostolic Constitution, Sacrae Disciplinae
18. What did the Holy Father say about the doctrinal authority
of the Catechism?
In Fidei Depositum, Pope
John Paul II said, "The Catechism of the Catholic Church,
which I approved on 25 June, 1992, and whose publication I command
today in virtue of the apostolic authority, is a presentation of the
Church's faith and of Catholic doctrine witnessed to or clarified by
sacred Scripture, the apostolic tradition and the Church's
magisterium. I acknowledge it as a valuable and authorized
instrument at the service of the ecclesial communion and as a sure
and certain standard for the teaching of the faith."
19. Is the doctrinal authority of the Catechism equal
to that of the dogmatic definitions of a pope or ecumenical council?
By its very nature, a catechism
presents the fundamental truths of the faith which have already been
communicated and defined. Because the Catechism presents
Catholic doctrine in a complete yet summary way, it naturally
contains the infallible doctrinal definitions of the popes and
ecumenical councils in the history of the Church. It also presents
teaching which has not been communicated and defined in these most
solemn forms. This does not mean that such teaching can be
disregarded or ignored. Quite to the contrary, the Catechism
presents Catholic doctrine as an organic whole and as it is related
to Christ who is the center. A major catechism, such as the
Catechism of the Catholic Church, presents a compendium of
Church teachings and has the advantage of demonstrating the harmony
that exists among those teachings.
20. Is the doctrinal authority of the Catechism equal
to the documents of the Second Vatican Council?
Just as the Catechism
contains the most solemnly defined dogmas of the Church, it also
contains the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. The worldwide
consultation of the bishops that preceded the promulgation of the
Catechism gives it a collegial character. It is, as the Holy
Father has said, "the result of a collaboration of the whole
episcopate." It would seem, however, that the Catechism did
not have the benefit of the complete exercise of effective
collegiality that accompanies the writing, disputation, revision,
consensus, agreement and eventual promulgation of documents of an
ecumenical council. But it must be noted that the form of a
catechism is distinct from the form of conciliar documents. They are
complimentary, but they are not identical.
21. Does this mean that the Catechism can be
No. The Catechism is part
of the Church's ordinary teaching authority. The Holy Father has
placed his apostolic authority behind it. Its doctrinal authority is
proper to the papal magisterium. In Fidei Depositum the Holy
Father has termed the Catechism a "sure norm for the teaching
of the faith" and "a sure and authentic reference text." He has
asked "the Church's pastors and the Christian faithful to receive
this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in
fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling the
people to the life of the gospel."
22. As the Catechism sets forth a systematic
presentation of Catholic doctrine, does it neglect the context for
that doctrine, namely God's relationship with his people.
The theme of "covenant" is
evident throughout the new Catechism. It is one of the
threads that weaves the Catechism into a unified whole. While
it is true that both the German and French catechisms for adults
organize their content around the "covenant," the new Catechism
emphasizes that central theme of God's relationship with his people
in appropriate ways with frequent references throughout the text.
23. Does the new Catechism remove the content of faith
too much from the lived Christian life?
The largest portion of the
Catechism treats the content of the faith (Book One), but the
second largest treats the moral life (Book Three). The relationship
between what one believes and consequently how one behaves on
account of that belief is very clear and forceful in the new
Catechism. This is especially evident in the section on the
Church's social teachings. Faith, then, is presented as more than
the systematic knowledge of doctrine. In mediating the new
Catechism within local churches, the relationship between faith
and life needs continually to be demonstrated so that transforming
power of the Christian message might be evident.
24. Since the Catechism is written in a declarative and
expository rather than apologetic style, does it discourage
searching and questioning?
The new Catechism sets
forth the content of the faith in a comprehensive yet summary
fashion and in a positive and explanatory manner. In this sense, it
answers many questions about doctrine in a clear and unambiguous
way. On the other hand, however, the Catechism recognizes
that faith is an ongoing journey on which questions and doubts come
naturally and need to be addressed at the opportune moment. The new
Catechism - far from preempting discussion - provides
accurate information with which to carry on informed discussion.
25. Can an individual's quest for God be helped by the new
While the Catechism is
organized around the four traditional pillars of catechesis, it can
be used as a valuable resource for the formation of catechumens in a
group or for an individual. Since the Catechism does not intend to
offer a methodology for catechesis or impose a single learning
pattern, its content can be used in a variety of catechetical
methods and settings with equal value. The Catechism has an
inherent flexibility that can correspond to the particular faith
journeys of all believers.
26. Is the new Catechism a spiritual book in any sense?
spirituality rests on the foundation of Trinitarian life. The
relationships among the persons of the Trinity provide the model for
human relationships. Some have suggested reading Book Four (Prayer)
first to put the rest of the Catechism in the context of
prayer. But the frequent references to the saints and the spiritual
doctors of the Church throughout the Catechism make this
unnecessary. In fact, the Catechism can be read from the
point of view of a spiritual journey in which what the Church
believes, celebrates, lives and prays combine to yield information,
formation and the hope of transformation by God's grace along the
way. The centrality of the Trinity as the organizing principle of
the Catechism assures its spiritual orientation.
27. Is the Catechism intended to substitute for local,
approved catechisms and catechetical materials?
No. The Catechism is
intended to encourage and assist national and local churches in
drafting new catechisms and catechetical materials. As the Holy
Father said in the Apostolic Constitution, "Fidei Depositum," "It is
intended to encourage and assist in the writing of new local
catechisms which take into account different situations and cultures
but which carefully guard the unity of the faith and fidelity to
28. Is the Catechism an expression of inculturation on
the global or universal level?
Yes. The Church is not bound
exclusively to any race, nation, way of life or custom. The Church
enters into communion with all different forms of culture. The
Catechism re-expresses the Christian message at the level of the
universal Church and therefore represents a successful inculturation
of the faith at that level. It reformulates the documentary
tradition of the Church within the global culture in an admirable
29. Does the Catechism require inculturation on the
Yes. The Catechism does
not undertake adaptations of its content nor does it espouse
particular catechetical methods required by differences of culture,
age, spiritual life and the social and ecclesial situation of those
to whom it is addressed. These indispensable adaptations are left to
the catechisms which will follow the Catechism and, even more
importantly, to those who instruct the faithful.
30. Can this "indispensable adaptation" be accomplished?
Yes. The Catechism uses a
straightforward doctrinal style to communicate the content of the
Catholic faith. Such a style presents Catholic doctrine in an
intelligent and coherent way which can only assist authors, editors
and publishers of national and local catechisms and catechetical
materials. It is their responsibility, under the guidance of the
bishops, to adapt or mediate the Catechism to the local
culture and to use this major catechism as the primary resource in
the development of minor catechisms.
Two additional guides for the
indispensable adaptation of the Catechism might be suggested.
First, the documents of the post-conciliar catechetical Magisterium,
especially the General Catechetical Directory and
Catechesi Tradendae, contain criteria of a more general nature
for the mediation and inculturation of the Catechism. Second,
the qualities and attributes of the local, regional and national
catechetical ministry contain more particular criteria for the
mediation of the Catechism.
31. Who will collaborate within this process of adaptation and
The Catechism is intended
primarily for bishops, so their pastoral leadership and
participation in the process of inculturation is decisive. Under the
grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the bishops should be joined
by pastors, catechists, authors, editors and publishers of
catechetical materials as well as the local community in finding
ways to inculturate the Catechism in their local dioceses.
32. Is the Catechism an example of the collegiality of
Yes. The Catechism is an
historic example of episcopal collegiality. The collegiality of the
Bishops whose unity is presided over by the Bishop of Rome was one
of the truths professed by the Second Vatican Council. The
establishment of the Synod of Bishops is perhaps the most evident
form of episcopal collegiality since the Council. In his address to
the Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops on
April 30, 1983, Pope John Paul II said: "The Synod is in fact a
particularly fruitful expression and the most effective tool of
episcopal collegiality, that is, of the special responsibility of
the Bishops in conjunction with the Bishop of Rome." The
Catechism is one of the direct results of the deliberations of
the Synod of Bishops.
33. How is the Catechism one of the direct results of
the Synod of Bishops?
The Catechism originated
in Synod. The Fourth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of
Bishops in 1977 focused on the renewal of catechesis and raised the
question of the need "to prepare a basic catechism." The
Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod in 1985 examined the idea of a
catechism in greater depth and then almost unanimously adopted a
proposal to "draft a catechism or compendium of all of Catholic
doctrine regarding faith and morals." Pope John Paul II said: "This
compendium of the Catholic faith, requested by the Bishops gathered
in the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod in 1985, is the most
mature and complete fruit of the Council's teaching and presents it
in the rich framework of the whole of ecclesial Tradition."
34. How, then, is the Catechism an example of episcopal
The Catechism is an
example of episcopal collegiality because it was requested by the
Synod of Bishops and affirmed by the Bishop of Rome; it was
conceived, designed and written by Bishops primarily for Bishops; it
was examined by the Catholic episcopate worldwide and it was
officially promulgated by the Bishop of Rome.
Episcopal collegiality, then,
seems to be a primary characteristic of the preparation of the
Catechism. When he presented the Catechism to the Holy
Father, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, president of the Commission for
the Catechism, said: "The Catechism of the Catholic Church is
the result of a collegial episcopal effort...Thus, once again, the
affective and effective collegiality of the Episcopate has been
engaged in real and concrete terms, with abundant fruitful results."
35. Does the Catechism itself say anything about
In several references, the
Catechism describes the essential elements of a definition of
episcopal collegiality. Episcopal collegiality originated in the
will of Jesus (#1444); it is apostolic in nature (#857); it is
necessarily related to the primacy of Peter (#552); it is
essentially a pastoral ministry (#1444); it underscores the
collegial responsibility of the Bishops for the universal Church
(#1577); it depends on a sacramental character (#1559-60); it has a
co-natural relation to priestly orders (#857) and it reveals the
eschatological dimension of the episcopal collegial mission (#1577).
36. Since the Catechism originated within the college
of Bishops and is intended primarily for the college of Bishops,
does it have a missionary thrust?
Yes. To say that the
Catechism is intended in the first place for Bishops is not to
say that its purpose is exhausted when the Bishops receive it. On
this precise point, in his address on the occasion of the
promulgation of the Catechism, Pope John Paul II said: "The
Catechism of the Catholic Church is a qualified,
authoritative instrument which the Church Pastors desired first of
all for themselves, as a valuable help in fulfilling the mission
they have received from Christ to proclaim and witness the Good News
to all people." The Catechism, then, is a primary instrument
for evangelization and catechesis. It is entrusted to the Bishops
for the good of the Church and the world.
37. Is the Catechism intended for use by "the people in
Yes. In his Apostolic
Constitution, "Fidei Depositum," the Holy Father says, "I ask all
the Church's shepherds and faithful members to receive this
Catechism in a spirit of communion and to make careful use of it
in carrying out their mission to proclaim the faith and to call to
the gospel life. This Catechism is given to them to serve as
a sure and authentic source book for the teaching of Catholic
doctrine and especially for the composition of local catechisms. It
is also offered to all the faithful who want to understand better
the inexhaustible riches of salvation."
The Prologue to the Catechism
underscores the Holy Father's point when it says, "It (the
Catechism) will also be useful reading for all the faithful."
38. Should "the people in the pews" be encouraged to read and
study the Catechism?
Yes. Many Catholic adults are
searching for a positive, coherent and contemporary statement of
what the Church believes and teaches. The new Catechism
provides such a statement in a comprehensive, yet summary manner.
Research has told us that
Catholic adults are better educated than at any other time in our
nation's history. They are expected to make use of resource books
and reference works in the other areas of their lives. The
Catechism is such a point of reference for the religious and
spiritual dimensions of their lives. They should be encouraged to
read and study the Catechism.
39. Is the Catechism written in a style that would be
too difficult for "the people in the pews?"
The Catechism is a source
book, a reference work and therefore has the stylistic
characteristics appropriate to that form of writing. It is written
in a positive, declaratory style and makes use of concepts,
sentences, phrases and words which are part of the Church's
doctrinal tradition and are therefore familiar to many. Its tone is
inviting and encouraging, challenging and searching. It is not
written in an apologetic or argumentative tone. In the style of a
source book, the Catechism sets forth the teachings of the
Church in a complete and unambiguous way.
40. Do the "people in the pews" need some theological
background in order to understand the Catechism?
It would be helpful if the
reader had some theological background, but the Catechism
itself presents a considerable amount of theological background
material. As one of the Church's teachings is presented, for
example, the Catechism ordinarily traces the teaching's
history, its sources, its formulation through the ages and cites its
principle commentators. The Catechism, in this sense, can be
an educational instrument itself and not only a source for the
composition of national and local catechisms and catechetical
41. Will the "people in the pews" receive any assistance in
developing an understanding of the content of the Catechism?
The Catechism "is
intended primarily for bishops, as teachers of the faith and pastors
of the Church." Therefore, the "people in the pews" can expect some
assistance in the first place from their bishops. Many bishops are
already incorporating the Catechism into their teaching and
preaching. Many are providing continuing education opportunities
focused on the Catechism for their priests, parish leaders,
deacons, seminarians, teachers, catechists and faithful. In
addition, many Catholic newspapers and periodicals are already
offering their readers commentaries and guides for understanding the
42. How can the Catechism be most effectively used by
editors of catechisms and other catechetical materials?
Authors, editors and publishers
of catechisms and catechetical materials should be guided by the
Catechism in the revision and improvement of catechetical
materials. The content, plan and spirit of the Catechism
should shape the development of all future catechetical texts.
Authors, editors and publishers of catechisms and catechetical
materials should assist in the adaptation of the Catechism's
doctrinal presentations to the particular circumstances of those for
whom catechetical texts are developed. Together with other
catechetical documents within the Church's magisterium, the
Catechism holds a privileged place in the formulation of
catechetical materials. As the Holy Father has said, the
Catechism is a "sure and authentic source book for the teaching
of Catholic doctrine and especially the composition of local
43. How can the Catechism be most effectively used by
Since the Catechism
presents the content of the faith in a complete and organic summary,
it is an invaluable pastoral resource for priests. It offers the
Church's teachings in a positive, expository manner avoiding
argumentation or apologetic. As such it easily lends itself to use
in teaching, counseling and preaching. For example, when the
faithful seek responses to questions concerning doctrinal matters,
the Catechism is a user-friendly resource with its
cross-referencing system and many indices. In addition, as doctrinal
issues are suggested in the liturgical cycle of readings, the
Catechism can provide fertile backgroud for the priest to
address these issues directly in his homilies. Since seminarians can
also benefit from the use of the Catechism, they, too, should
be encouraged to read and study it.
44. How can the Catechism be most effectively used by
Catechists do not teach in their
own names. Neither do they teach their opinions on doctrinal
matters. Catechists teach in the name of Christ. In fact it is
Christ who they teach. In light of this, catechists are teachers of
the truths of the faith. The Catechism provides them a handy
reference work which could be used together with their catechist
manuals for use in the preparation of lesson plans. Catechists will
find the Catechism to be a reliable and credible companion in
their catechetical ministry.
45. How can the Catechism be effectively used by all
others responsible for catechesis?
While this part of the
Catechism's intended audience is indefinite, it would seem that
diocesan and parish educational and catechetical leaders would be
included. The Catechism provides a treasury of personal and
professional resources for all those responsible for catechesis,
especially those in leadership positions. Diocesan and parish
educational and catechetical leaders, under the direction of the
local bishop, could assist in the evaluation of catechetical
materials based on the Catechism.
46. How can the Catechism be most effectively used by
"all the faithful"?
Many Catholic adults are
searching for a positive, coherent and contemporary statement of
what the Church believes and teaches. The new Catechism
provides such a statement in a comprehensive, yet summary format.
Catholic adults should be encouraged to read and study the
Catechism. While private study of the Catechism might fit
most comfortably into the learning styles of some adults, most
benefit greatly from organized discussion groups or study circles.
Growth in the knowledge of the faith which one believes tends to
deepen the quality of the faith by which one believes. Thus the
Catechism can be used by the faithful as an instrument for the
wholistic maturation of their faith.
47. Why does the Church need the Catechism at this
The Second Vatican Council
re-defined and re-affirmed the Church's traditional teachings for
the contemporary world. Just as in the cases of previous ecumenical
councils, after the Second Vatican Council, there was a need to
consolidate those teachings and re-present them in a compelling and
inviting way. In addition, today many people are looking for a clear
and coherent presentation of the Church's teaching. The Catechism
provides such an intelligent and complete presentation.
48. Will the Catechism strengthen the Church's bond of
unity or cause division within the Church?
The Holy Father has said that
the Catechism provides "the service of supporting and
confirming the faith of all the disciples of the Lord Jesus, as well
as to strengthen the bonds of unity in the same apostolic faith."
The Catechism, then, is intended to "carefully guard the
unity of the faith and fidelity to Catholic doctrine." The
Catechism sets forth what Catholics believe throughout the world
without regard for their particular cultural situations. It seeks to
foster the unity of the faith as it is lived distinctively
throughout the universal Church. In addition, the "In Brief"
summaries especially offer a common language of faith for diverse
believers to express and celebrate the one Catholic faith. The
Catechism has a great potential to diminish division within the
Church and draw believers closer to one another and to Christ.
49. What effect will the Catechism have on Church life?
The Catechism is an
historic document which the Holy Father considers one of the most
outstanding achievements of his pontificate. While its effects will
be felt in every area of Church life, they will be most profoundly
felt in that dimension of the Church's mission which is explicitly
catechetical. The Catechism will continue to encourage the
renewal of catechetics which has been going on since before the
Second Vatican Council. Preachers, teachers and catechists will
depend on the Catechism as a primary resource. Authors,
editors and publishers of catechetical materials will look to the
Catechism as a touchstone and guide for the revision of their
catechetical texts and materials. Pope John Paul II has said, "The
Catechism cannot be considered merely as a stage preceeding
the drafting of local catechisms, but it is destined for all the
faithful who have the capacity to read, understand and assimilate it
in their Christian living."
50. Will the Catechism assist the Holy Father in what
he has called the "new evangelization?"
Yes. The Pope John Paul II has
termed the Catechism, "an instrument for the new
evangelization." The "new evangelization" which the Holy Father has
consistently proclaimed involves both the transformation of
contemporary culture and the personal, ongoing conversion of the
individual believer. The new Catechism presents the message
of Christ in its entirety. It presents the message of Christ
faithfully. It consistently offers the teachings of the Church in
relationship to the person of Christ who is at the heart of the
Church's beliefs. These three elements make up the energizing center
of the "new evangelization."
The Holy Father has said, "The
new evangelization, however, requires first of all a catechesis
that, presenting the plan of salvation, can call people to
conversion and to hope in God's promise on the basis of certitude
about the true resurrection of Christ, the first proclamation and
root of all evangelization, the foundation of all human development
and the principle of every Christian culture."