• The Catechism is a systematic explanation of the Catholic faith, embracing both doctrine and moral living.
  • The term comes from the Greek verb “katecheo,” meaning “to teach” – more literally, “to echo,” or faithfully transmit the beliefs and practices that have been entrusted to us.
  • The Catechism has four sections, or pillars: what we believe; how we celebrate what we believe; how we live what we believe; and how we pray.
  • Its sources are Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, inspired and revealed by God.
  • The greatest purpose of the Catechism is not to increase our knowledge for its own sake, but that we may grow in love: to deepen our belief in God’s love for us, and to spark us to respond in love for God and neighbor.
  • Catechisms have been produced over the course of Church history, especially during periods of reform and renewal.
  • The current Catechism of the Catholic Church is an outgrowth of the Second Vatican Council: following the renewal of the Mass and the promulgation of an updated code of canon law, the bishops felt the need for a new edition of the Catechism, to better present the faith to our contemporary age.
  • In response to the bishops’ request, Blessed John Paul II formed a commission, chaired by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI.
  • The commission collaborated with theologians, catechists, and bishops the world over to develop this Catechism, which was officially published October 11, 1992.
  • It serves as the basis for other catechisms produced on a regional basis around the globe, including the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults.

Read more in the Prologue to the Catechism, as well as John Paul II’s document upon the publication of the Catechism, Fidei Depositum (“Deposit of Faith”).

The complete text of the Catechism can be viewed on both the Vatican and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops websites.

But if you’re like me, and prefer to hold a book for in-depth study, get a copy from the USCCB or your favorite bookseller.

Live Your Faith

We are all called, by virtue of our baptism, to proclaim our faith. Do we know our faith well enough to answer questions, or respond when our beliefs are challenged? We continue to build our knowledge base for our jobs, hobbies, and sporting interests. Have we kept learning about our faith, or did we stop somewhere along the way? This Year of Faith offers us the opportunity to dig deeper into the inexhaustible gold mine of our Catholic faith.