Any study of Catholicism must begin with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Officially promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1997, it is the first “universal” Catholic catechism since the Reformation and only the second in history. It is an epochal work that expresses the tenets of the Catholic faith consistent with their articulation at the Second Vatican Council, while remaining in organic unity with the tradition of the Church, drawing in abundance on the sources of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and magisterial authority. If one wants to know what the Catholic Church teaches, the Catechism, as John Paul II stated, is the “sure norm.”
The beauty and profundity of the text is such that while it was intended as a reference work, it is often read as devotional literature, permeated as it is with a subtle theology of love and communion. It is nevertheless comprehensive in its treatment, covering everything from contraception to the doctrine of the Trinity, from Purgatory to papal infallibility.
The Catechism is organized around the most shared aspects of the Christian faith—for example, the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Our Father—and so is a welcome tool for facilitating dialogue between all Christians. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, oversaw the drafting of the text, and he has repeatedly pointed to the Catechism as a significant step toward an authoritative interpretation of the “Spirit of Vatican II,” toward a cessation of conflicts which have often rent the Church in the aftermath of the council, and toward a rapprochement with those Christians whom the council termed “Separated Brethren.”
Indeed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a work that deserves a place in every Christian’s library.
Looking for both the Latin and English editions? Catechism of the Catholic Church: English and Latin (2 vols.) is available!
Due to copyright restrictions, the Catechism is only available to customers living in the United States, its territories, and Canada.