Catechism of the Catholic Church

“God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason”
St. John Paul II, Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a reference work that summarizes the Catholic Church’s doctrine.


At the 1985 Synod Intervention, Cardinal Bernard Law first publicly suggested the drafting of a catechism:

“I propose a commission of cardinals to prepare a draft of a conciliar catechism to be promulgated by the Holy Father after consulting the bishops of the world. In a shrinking world, global village-national catechisms will not fill the current need for clear articulation of the church’s faith.”

In response to this proposal, Pope John Paul II commissioned twelve cardinals to oversee the work. The chair of this commission was none other than Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and future Pope Benedict XVI. These twelve were charged with drafting a catechism for the Universal Church. It was to act as a “point of reference for the catechisms or compendiums that are prepared in various regions” and to clearly and concisely articulate the Catholic Faith after the Second Vatican Council.

The Writing of the Catechism

The twelve immediately organized a group of 44 consultors worldwide and picked a committee of seven bishops to compose the Catechism. The collaborators met, consulted, drafted, and edited. The texts and drafts were sent to all the Catholic bishops in the world and all of the main Catholic Universities and Institutes. The various backgrounds and differing expertise resulted in over 930 replies and 24,000 suggestions. Pope John Paul II later said that “the harmony of so many voices truly expresses what could be called the ‘symphony’ of the faith.”

The final text was completed by the commission and presented to the Holy Father in February of 1992. On October 11th, 1992, Pope John Paul II presented the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the world.

Isn’t the Bible a More Direct Path to the Faith? 

The Catechism deeply reflects Scripture. Its purpose is to open the Word of God more fully. Pope John Paul II, in his Fidei Depositum says:

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church. . . is a statement of the Church’s faith and of Catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion.”

Scripture is the first principle of Faith. For us to expound on this Faith and present a clear depiction of the beliefs of the Catholic Church, we must first and foremost ground our work in the Word of God. We see this throughout the entirety of the Catechism. Every topic contains various Biblical references. The bishops cite Deuteronomy while discussing the proliferation of sin; Corinthians helps to explain Baptism; and the Psalms bring light to our understanding of conversion.

The Power of the Catechism 

In this way, the Catechism is grounded in God’s Word and filled with truth. This book offers answers to the questions that the faithful—and the non-faithful—might have. It is a work of love, worthy of reading and learning more about. The bishops wanted to guard the Faith and present its rich beauty. This is why they relied heavily on Scripture, Church Doctors, and various Papal Documents and Councils that offer insightful commentary.

What had been an arduous, time-consuming task is now a book that rests on the shelves of teachers, students, parents, and clergy. It holds the answers to the queries of both eight-year-old girls and the most renowned theologians of our time.

Today, I have a few copies of the Catechism on my bookshelf. Although I’m not as afraid of the Latin or numbers anymore, its contents continue to mystify me. As it explains the teachings of the Church, it also tells the story of our Faith. It offers joyful answers to the most gnawing, painful questions burdening man. We now have the opportunity to encounter this work in a unique and unforgettable way: through The Catechism in a Year podcast. I encourage you to join Fr. Mike, myself, and thousands of fellow Catholics on this journey through the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Catechism in a Year ~ with Fr. Mike Schmitz