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Encyclopedia > Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, or CCC, is an official exposition of the teachings of the Catholic Church, first published in French in 1992 by the authority of Pope John Paul II.[1] Subsequently, in 1997, a Latin text was issued which is now the official text of reference [2] the contents of the first French text being amended at a few points [3] The volume, which is a stout book of over 900 pages, has since been translated into many other languages, including English, and became an instant best-seller. This presumably showed a widespread interest among Catholics in having an authoritative voice on Catholic positions, but also interest on the part of a wider public. Fair use book cover - The Catechism of the Catholic Church. ... The name Catholic Church can mean a visible organization that refers to itself as Catholic, or the invisible Christian Church, viz. ... Official papal image of John Paul II. His Holiness Pope John Paul II, né Karol Józef Wojtyła (born May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland), is the current Pope — the Bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church. ...


The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published in 2005, and the first edition in English in 2006. In 2003 Pope John Paul II established a special commission, presided by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), that he charged with preparing a Compendium, containing a more concise and dialogic version of the CCC. Pope John Paul II (Latin: ), born Karol Józef Wojtyła [1] (May 18, 1920 – April 2, 2005) reigned as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church for almost 27 years, from October 16, 1978 until his death, making his the second-longest pontificate. ... The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) (Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei) is the oldest of the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. ... Pope Benedict XVI (Latin: , born Joseph Alois Ratzinger on April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany) is the 265th[1] and reigning Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, and sovereign of Vatican City State. ...

Contents


Contents

A "catechism" has been defined as "a summary of principles, often in question-and-answer format"[4]. Although handbooks of religious instruction have been written since the time of the Church Fathers, the term "catechism" was first applied to them in the sixteenth century, beginning with Martin Luther’s 1529 publications. Mostly, they are meant for use in class or other formal instruction. Codex Manesse, fol. ... Luther at age 46 (Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1529) The Luther seal Ancient wax seal, with the inscription D: M. Luther found in Rhone River, Germany Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was a German monk, [1] priest, professor, theologian, and church reformer, whose teachings inspired the Reformation...


The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for which the usual English-language abbreviation is CCC, is instead a source on which to base such catechisms and other expositions of Catholic doctrine. It was given, as stated in the Apostolic Constitution Fidei depositum,[5] with which its publication was ordered, "that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms." The CCC is in fact not strictly in question and answer format.


CCC is arranged in four principal parts:

  • The Profession of Faith (the Creed)
  • The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (the Sacred Liturgy, especially the sacraments)
  • Life in Christ (including the Ten Commandments)
  • Christian Prayer (including the Lord’s Prayer)

The contents are abundantly footnoted with references to sources of the teaching, in particular the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, and the Ecumenical Councils[6] and other authoritative Catholic statements, principally those issued by recent Popes. The Gutenberg Bible owned by the United States Library of Congress The Bible (Hebrew: תנ״ך tanakh, Greek: η Βίβλος hē biblos) (sometimes The Holy Bible, The Book, Work of God, The Word, The Good Book or Scripture), from Greek (τα) βίβλια, (ta) biblia, (the) books, is the name used by Jews and Christians for their... The (Early) Church Fathers or Fathers of the Church are the early and influential theologians and writers in the Christian Church, particularly those of the first five centuries of Christian history. ... In Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, an ecumenical council is a meeting of the bishops of the whole church convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice. ...


Critics

Some Orthodox theologians have expressed appreciation of CCC, while not agreeing with all of its contents. This is understandable, since while making references to Byzantine and other Eastern practice and teaching, its basic approach and mode of expression is necessarily Western. Those of Protestant tradition find much more to disagree with, which is also understandable, as there would not be separate Catholic and Protestant camps without such disagreement. Eastern Orthodoxy (also called Greek Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodoxy) is a Christian tradition which represents the majority of Eastern Christianity. ... Protestantism is a general grouping of denominations within Christianity. ...


Points of Controversy

Some "Traditionalist Catholics" claim to find CCC teachings inconsistent with traditional Catholic theology and mainly revert to the Roman Catechism, which was issued by Pope Pius V after the Council of Trent, but which, while frequently cited in CCC, has not been in practical use since the early twentieth century, when it was superseded by a catechism issued by Pope Pius X. A Tridentine Mass being celebrated in Bohermeen, Ireland in the 1950s. ... The Catechism of the Council of Trent (or Roman Catechism) differs from other summaries of Christian doctrine for the instruction of the people in two points: it is primarily intended for priests having care of souls (ad parochos), and it enjoyed an authority within the Catholic Church equalled by no... Saint Pius V, né Antonio Ghislieri, from 1518 called Michele Ghislieri (January 17, 1504 – May 1, 1572) was pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. ... The Council of Trent is the Nineteenth Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s The 20th century lasted from 1901 to 2000 in the Gregorian calendar (often from (1900 to 1999 in common usage). ... Pope Saint Pius X (Latin: ), born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto (June 2, 1835 – August 20, 1914), was Pope from 1903 to 1914, succeeding Pope Leo XIII (1878–1903). ...


They argue that statements made in CCC conflict with past Catholic teachings on many topics[7] through allegedly unclear theology on the union of the Son of God with human nature, implicit acceptance of the theory of evolution, a supposition that the Jewish people are still in a covenantal relationship with God, openness to "ecclesial communities" (such as Protestants, who are not in communion with the Pope), acceptance of the efficacy and rightness of religious gatherings involving non-Catholics, encouragement of a collaboration with secular society that they see as tending to promote a sense of working for mankind rather than for the Church, an "incipient suggestion that homosexuality is not to be classified as of the same ultimate species (a scholastic term) as zoophilia." Jesus (8-2 BC/BCE — 29-36 AD/CE),[1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity. ... This article is about biological evolution. ... Jews (Hebrew: יהודים, Yehudim) are followers of Judaism or, more generally, members of the Jewish people (also known as the Jewish nation, or the Children of Israel), an ethno-religious group descended from the ancient Israelites and converts who joined their religion. ... Michelangelos depiction of God in the painting Creation of the Sun and Moon in the Sistine Chapel Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, one of the manifestations of the ultimate reality or God in Hinduism This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... Protestantism is one of three primary branches of Christianity. ... The Pope (from Greek: pappas, father; from Latin: papa, Papa, father) is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. ... The word homosexuality has acquired multiple meanings over time. ... Scholastic redirects here. ... Leda and the Swan, a 16th century copy of a lost painting by Michelangelo, 1530 (National Gallery, London) Zoophilia, from the Greek Ζωο (zôon, animal) and φιλία (philia, friendship or love), is a paraphilia, defined as an affinity or sexual attraction by a human to a (non-human) animal. ...


They maintain that, though theological opinion was not intended to be a part of CCC, [8], it "does not distinguish between matters of faith and theological opinion."¹


One such writer, quoting Pope Paul VI to the effect that the Catholic Church has made a conscious attempt to adopt "a more humble and fraternal attitude ... that of a search for the truth",² claims that CCC demonstrates that this has led to a shift away from presenting dogma as fact and toward presenting the Catholic faith itself as a search for truth. Pope Paul VI (Latin: ), born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (September 26, 1897 – August 6, 1978), reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and as sovereign of Vatican City from 1963 to 1978. ...


Referring also to the statement in the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum that "the contents are often presented in a new way in order to respond to the questions of our age", he claims that the "new catechesis ... attempts to produce existential reactions rather than intellectual conviction."³ Existentialism is a philosophical movement emphasizing individualism, individual freedom, and subjectivity. ...


Some, desiring a simpler text instead of so diffuse and "ponderous" a book, object to what they consider to be an absence in CCC of the clarity they see in thirteenth-century St. Thomas Aquinas[9] and in the 1885 Baltimore Catechism,[10] (a book that was meant as a class textbook in question-and-answer form, unlike CCC, which is intended as a source for use in composing such textbooks). (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas [Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino] (c. ... 1885 (MDCCCLXXXV) is a common year starting on Thursday. ... A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, Prepared and Enjoined by Order of the Third Council of Baltimore (or, simply, the Baltimore Catechism) was the de facto standard Catholic school text in the United States from 1885 to the 1960s. ...


They contrast two descriptions of "venial sin": SiN is a computer game developed by Ritual Entertainment and published by Activision in late 1998. ...

Venial sin in Baltimore Catechism [11]

Venial sin in CCC [12]

Q. 290. What is venial sin?
A. Venial sin is a slight offense against the law of God in matters of less importance, or in matters of great importance it is an offense committed without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will.

Q. 291. Can we always distinguish venial from mortal sin?
A. We cannot always distinguish venial from mortal sin, and in such cases we must leave the decision to our confessor.

Q. 292. Can slight offenses ever become mortal sins?
A. Slight offenses can become mortal sins if we commit them through defiant contempt for God or His law; and also when they are followed by very evil consequences, which we foresee in committing them.

Q. 293. Which are the effects of venial sin?
A. The effects of venial sin are the lessening of the love of God in our heart, the making us less worthy of His help, and the weakening of the power to resist mortal sin.

1862. One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.

1863. Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul's progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God's grace it is humanly reparable. "Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness" (Pope John Paul II, Reconciliatio et paenitentia, 17 §9).

While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call 'light'; if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession... (St Augustine, In ep. Jo. 1,6: PL 35, 1982)

Some have criticized CCC as sexist, on the basis of paragraph 489, which says (footnotes omitted):

Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living. By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age. Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women. Mary 'stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established.'

The paragraph speaks only of women, but does not suggest that the "poor and humble of the Lord" through whom, against human expectation, God did great things were all women. There is an extensive exegetical literature about the "poor and humble", in Hebrew "anawim", who are presented favourably in the Bible as showing far more faith in God than the rich and mighty. The word "anawim" has also been translated as "lowly", "meek", "powerless", "needy", "weak", "afflicted", "depressed". Society looked down on them, but Scripture praises them (see, for instance, Psalm 22:26, Isaiah 61:1, Zephaniah 2:3 and 3:11-12). It is true that, in Hebrew society of the time (not necessarily in the view of CCC), women were considered powerless and weak; but the point is that it was precisely through such God-devoted people that God showed his power. Any notion that the term applies only or even primarily to women disappears when it is recalled that exactly the same Hebrew term is used of Moses: "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3). In this verse, the Hebrew word translated as "man" is that for males; the word translated as "men" is that for human beings in general.


Conclusion

Whether one considers these criticisms well-founded or baseless, CCC is clearly a prime source today for knowledge of the teaching of the Catholic Church, both in general and on particular questions that were not raised in previous official compilations, such as the Catechism of Pope Pius V or of the Council of Trent,[13] or that of Pope Pius X[14]. It is an authoritative source, declared by Pope John Paul II to be "a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion."[15] Saint Pius V, né Antonio Ghislieri, from 1518 called Michele Ghislieri (January 17, 1504 – May 1, 1572) was pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. ... The Council of Trent is the Nineteenth Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. ... Pope Saint Pius X (Latin: ), born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto (June 2, 1835 – August 20, 1914), was Pope from 1903 to 1914, succeeding Pope Leo XIII (1878–1903). ... Pope John Paul II (Latin: ), born Karol Józef Wojtyła [1] (May 18, 1920 – April 2, 2005) reigned as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church for almost 27 years, from October 16, 1978 until his death, making his the second-longest pontificate. ...


CCC is also, in the quotations it gives, a handy reference work which provides an entry point to Scripture, as well as to the Church Fathers and other Church writings.


The interest in Church teachings that CCC has stirred even in circles outside the Catholic Church was noted by Pope Benedict XVI prior to his becoming Pope [16]: Pope Benedict XVI (Latin: ; born April 16, 1927 as Joseph Alois Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany) is the 265th reigning pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City. ...


"It clearly show[s] that the problem of what we must do as human beings, of how we should live our lives so that we and the world may become just, is the essential problem of our day, and basically of all ages. After the fall of ideologies, the problem of man — the moral problem — is presented to today's context in a totally new way: What should we do? How does life become just? What can give us and the whole world a future which is worth living? Since the catechism treats these questions, it is a book which interests many people, far beyond purely theological or ecclesial circles." [17]


References

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church - English translation (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000). ISBN 1574551108
  • Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church - English translation (USCCB, 2006). ISBN 1574557203

External links

Sites that carry the full text

  • Vatican Latin editio typica; English, French and Italian texts revised in accordance with the Latin editio typica; German and Spanish unrevised texts (based on the provisional French text)
  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops English - Second edition (revised in accordance with the Latin editio typica)
  • St. Charles Borromeo English - Second edition (revised in accordance with the Latin editio typica), with full text search and list of changes between the First and Second editions

An editio typica (Latin) or typical edition is a form of text used in the Catholic Church as an official source text of a particular document—typically in Latin—and used for all subsequent translations in vernacular languages. ... An editio typica (Latin) or typical edition is a form of text used in the Catholic Church as an official source text of a particular document—typically in Latin—and used for all subsequent translations in vernacular languages. ... An editio typica (Latin) or typical edition is a form of text used in the Catholic Church as an official source text of a particular document—typically in Latin—and used for all subsequent translations in vernacular languages. ... An editio typica (Latin) or typical edition is a form of text used in the Catholic Church as an official source text of a particular document—typically in Latin—and used for all subsequent translations in vernacular languages. ...

Sites that carry comments on the CCC

Footnotes

  • 1 Michael J. Wrenn & Kenneth D. Whitehead, Flawed Expectations: The Reception of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ignatius Press, 1996, ISBN 0898705916, p. 208.
  • 2 Romano Amerio, Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the XXth Century, 1996, Sarto House, ISBN 0963903217, §130.
  • 3 Amerio, op. cit., §132.

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