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The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Latin: 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 aims to summarize, in book form, what the Catholic Church as a whole believes, celebrates, lives and prays. Over eight million copies of the book have been sold and it has been translated into and published in more than twenty languages worldwide.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The decision to publish an official 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, to evaluate the progress of implementing the Vatican II council's goals on the 20th anniversary of its closure. The assembly participants expressed the desire that "a catechism or compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composed, that it might be, as it were, a point of reference for the catechisms or compendiums that are prepared in various regions. The presentation of doctrine must be biblical and liturgical. It must be sound doctrine suited to the present life of Christians."
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".
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 composed in the various countries".12 This work is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis: first of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pastors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfilling 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 Christian faithful.
The Catechism is a source on which to base other Catholic catechisms (e.g., YOUCAT or the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults) and other expositions of Catholic doctrine. 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."
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Dear Reader: Thank you for your question. The Baltimore Catechism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are not the same thing. The Baltimore Catechism was a Catechism of Christian Doctrine prepared as a result of Third Council of Baltimore. Following the Council of Trent, St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ, published a Small Catechism, which was translated into many languages. However, as early as 1829, the American bishops expressed a desire (not realized until 1885) for a catechism suited to the people of America. The Baltimore Catechism was the de facto text for Catholic instruction in the United States from 1885 until the late-1960s.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) brought many changes to church life and to the approach to theology and catechesis. Following the Council, there was a great crisis in catechesis, which Blessed Pope John Paul II addressed in his Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae (1979). Twenty years after the conclusion of the Council, Blessed John Paul II asked that a universal catechism be prepared incorporating the teachings of Vatican II within the living tradition of the church. This project was overseen largely by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) and Dominican Father Christoph von Schonborn (currently the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna). The French edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was issued in 1992, and a second edition was published in 1997. Later the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2005) and YouCat (for young people) were issued in the familiar question and answer format similar to that of the Baltimore Catechism.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a summary of the truths of Christ as transmitted and taught by the Church He founded. The Catholic Catechism covers four major areas of our faith life: The Profession of Faith (Apostles Creed); The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (the Sacraments); Life in Christ; and Christian Prayer. Some of the Catholic catechisms from earlier times are the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and the Baltimore Catechism. There are also many books that provide in-depth explanations of what is contained in the official Catholic Catechism. You will even find catechisms for children and teens!
922. "From apostolic times Christian virgins, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church's approval to live in a state of virginity 'for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.' [Mt 19:12 ; cf. l Cor 7:34-36.]923. "'Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.' By this solemn rite (Consecratio virginum), the virgin is 'constituted . . . a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church's love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.'"924. "'As with other forms of consecrated life,' the order of virgins establishes the woman living in the world (or the nun) in prayer, penance, service of her brethren, and apostolic activity, according to the state of life and spiritual gifts given to her. Consecrated virgins can form themselves into associations to observe their commitment more faithfully...."1537. "The word order in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. Ordinatio means incorporation into an ordo. In the Church there are established bodies which Tradition, not without a basis in Sacred Scripture, [Cf. Heb 5:6 ; Heb 7:11 ; Ps 110:4.] has since ancient times called taxeis (Greek) or ordines. And so the liturgy speaks of the ordo episcoporum, the ordo presbyterorum, the ordo diaconorum. Other groups also receive this name of ordo: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows,.... "1672. "Certain blessings have a lasting importance because they consecrate persons to God, or reserve objects and places for liturgical use. Among those blessings which are intended for persons - not to be confused with sacramental ordination - are the blessing of the abbot or abbess of a monastery, the consecration of virgins, the rite of religious profession and the blessing of certain ministries of the Church (readers, acolytes, catechists, etc.). The dedication or blessing of a church or an altar, the blessing of holy oils, vessels, and vestments, bells, etc., can be mentioned as examples of blessings that concern objects. "2349. "'People should cultivate (chastity) in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single.' Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence: There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others.... This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church. [St. Ambrose, De viduis 4, 23: PL 16, 255A.]"
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185 Whoever says "I believe" says "I pledge myself to what we believe." Communion in faith needs a common language of faith, normative for all and uniting all in the same confession of faith. 186 From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formula normative for all.1 But already very early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of her faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism:This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and the New Testaments.2187 Such syntheses are called "professions of faith" since they summarize the faith that Christians profess. They are called "creeds" on account of what is usually their first word in Latin: credo ("I believe"). They are also called "symbols of faith". 188 The Greek word symbolon meant half of a broken object, for example, a seal presented as a token of recognition. The broken parts were placed together to verify the bearer's identity. The symbol of faith, then, is a sign of recognition and communion between believers. Symbolon also means a gathering, collection or summary. A symbol of faith is a summary of the principal truths of the faith and therefore serves as the first and fundamental point of reference for catechesis.189 The first "profession of faith" is made during Baptism. The symbol of faith is first and foremost the baptismal creed. Since Baptism is given "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit",3 the truths of faith professed during Baptism are articulated in terms of their reference to the three persons of the Holy Trinity. 190 And so the Creed is divided into three parts: "the first part speaks of the first divine Person and the wonderful work of creation; the next speaks of the second divine Person and the mystery of his redemption of men; the final part speaks of the third divine Person, the origin and source of our sanctification."4 These are "the three chapters of our [baptismal] seal".5191 "These three parts are distinct although connected with one another. According to a comparison often used by the Fathers, we call them articles. Indeed, just as in our bodily members there are certain articulations which distinguish and separate them, so too in this profession of faith, the name articles has justly and rightly been given to the truths we must believe particularly and distinctly."6 In accordance with an ancient tradition, already attested to by St. Ambrose, it is also customary to reckon the articles of the Creed as twelve, thus symbolizing the fullness of the apostolic faith by the number of the apostles.7192 Through the centuries many professions or symbols of faith have been articulated in response to the needs of the different eras: the creeds of the different apostolic and ancient Churches,8 e.g., the Quicumque, also called the Athanasian Creed;9 the professions of faith of certain Councils, such as Toledo, Lateran, Lyons, Trent;10 or the symbols of certain popes, e.g., the Fides Damasi11 or the Credo of the People of God of Paul VI.12193 None of the creeds from the different stages in the Church's life can be considered superseded or irrelevant. They help us today to attain and deepen the faith of all times by means of the different summaries made of it. Among all the creeds, two occupy a special place in the Church's life: 194 The Apostles' Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles' faith. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome. Its great authority arises from this fact: it is "the Creed of the Roman Church, the See of Peter the first of the apostles, to which he brought the common faith".13195 The Niceno-Constantinopolitan or Nicene Creed draws its great authority from the fact that it stems from the first two ecumenical Councils (in 325 and 381). It remains common to all the great Churches of both East and West to this day. 196 Our presentation of the faith will follow the Apostles' Creed, which constitutes, as it were, "the oldest Roman catechism". The presentation will be completed however by constant references to the Nicene Creed, which is often more explicit and more detailed. 197 As on the day of our Baptism, when our whole life was entrusted to the "standard of teaching",14 let us embrace the Creed of our life-giving faith. To say the Credo with faith is to enter into communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and also with the whole Church which transmits the faith to us and in whose midst we believe:This Creed is the spiritual seal, our heart's meditation and an ever-present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul.151 Cf. Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 15:3-5,etc.2 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. illum. 5,12: PG 33,521-524.3 Mt 28:19.4 Roman Catechism I,1,3.5 St. Irenaeus, Dem. ap. 100: SCh 62,170.6 Roman Catechism I,1,4.7 Cf. St. Ambrose, Expl. symb. 8.8 Cf. DS 1-64.9 Cf. DS 75-76.10 Cf. DS 525-541; 800-802; 851-861; 1862-1870.11 Cf. DS 71-72.12 Paul VI, CPG (1968).13 St. Ambrose, Expl. symb. 7: PL 17,1196.14 Rom 6:17.15 St. Ambrose, Expl. symb. 1:PL 17,1193. 041b061a72