The ''Catechism of the Catholic Church'' ( la|Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae; commonly called the ''Catechism'' or the ''CCC'') is a catechism promulgated for the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II in 1992. It sums up, in book form, the beliefs of the Catholic faithful.

Publication history

According to John Paul II, the decision to publish a catechism was taken at the Second Extraordinary General 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. In 1986, John Paul II put a commission composed of 12 bishops and cardinals in charge of the project. The commission was assisted by a committee consisting of seven diocesan bishops, 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 later cardinal deacon of ''Santi Domenico e Sisto'', of 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 translated into many other languages. In the United States, the English translation was published in 1994 and had been pre-ordered more than 250,000 copies before its release, 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. As a result, the earlier translations from the French into other languages (including English) had to be amended and re-published as "second editions".

Paragraph 2267 (capital punishment)

One of the changes to the 1997 update consisted of the inclusion of the position on the death penalty that is defended in John Paul II's encyclical ''Evangelium vitae'' of 1995. The paragraph dealing with the death penalty (2267) was revised again by Pope Francis in 2018. The present recension of the catechism now reads:

Doctrinal value

In the apostolic constitution ''Fidei depositum'', John Paul II declared that the ''Catechism of the Catholic Church'' is "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 book that explains the beliefs of the Christian religion by using a list of questions and answers". Documents of religious instruction have been written since the beginning of Christianity and a catechism is typically an assemblage of these smaller documents into one large compilation of Church doctrine and teachings. The ''Catechism'' itself is not in question-and-answer format. Rather, it 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." As stated in the apostolic constitution ''Fidei depositum'', with which its publication was ordered, it was given so "that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms." The ''Catechism'' is arranged in four principal parts: * The Profession of Faith (the Apostles' Creed) * The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (the Sacred Liturgy, and especially the sacraments) * Life in Christ (including the Ten Commandments) * 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 ''Catechism'' 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 dogmatic constitution ''Dei verbum'', which taught that Scripture should be "read and interpreted in light of the same Spirit by whom it was written". The ''Catechism'' amplifies ''Dei verbum'' by specifying that the necessary spiritual interpretation should be sought through the four senses of Scripture, which encompass the literal sense and the three spiritual senses (allegorical, moral, and anagogical). The literal sense pertains to the meaning of the words themselves, including any figurative meanings. The spiritual senses 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 ''Catechism'' on Scripture has encouraged the pursuit of covenantal theology, an approach that employs the four senses to structure salvation history via the biblical covenants.


In 1992, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) noted: Ulf Ekman, former Charismatic pastor and the founder of Livets Ord, says that the ''Catechism'' is "the best book he has ever read".

Derived works

It was expected that the universal Catechism would serve as a source and template for inculturated national catechisms. In the United States, for example, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published the ''United States Catholic Catechism for Adults'', officially replacing their previous version, the ''Baltimore Catechism''. 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 ''Catechism''. 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.

See also

* Catholic Catechist * Catholic Directory * Catholic spirituality * Glossary of the Catholic Church * History of the Catholic Church since 1962 * Index of Catholic Church articles * Outline of Catholicism * Pastoral care * Catholic theology * Second Vatican Council * ''The Common Catechism'' * Timeline of the Catholic Church * Universal call to holiness * Vocational discernment in the Catholic Church



Further reading

* ''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.). * ''Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church'' – English translation (USCCB, 2006). * ''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"

External links

Text of the apostolic constitution promulgating the ''Catechism''

on the promulgation of the ''editio typica'' of the ''Catechism''.

Text of the ''Catechism''

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'')

Comments on the ''Catechism''

US Catholic Bishops Conference: Office for the Catechism

''Catechism of the Catholic Church'' Simplified
– A condensation of the text, not the text itself

(written by members of Society of Saint Pius X, which does not accept the Second Vatican Council)

Text of the ''Compendium''

Compendium at Vatican/Holy See website
available in Belarusian, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish (as of 31 January 2014) {{DEFAULTSORT:Catechism Of The Catholic Church Category:Catholic theology and doctrine Category:Pope John Paul II