25th Anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  St. John Paul II approved the provisional text in June 1992 and it was promulgated on 11 October 1992, which is also the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  Hence, today is also the feast of Pope St. John XXIII who opened that Council with a speech known today as Gaudet Mater Ecclesia.

In that speech, the most important thing Pope John said was:

The manner in which sacred doctrine is spread, this having been established, it becomes clear how much is expected from the Council in regard to doctrine. That is, the Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which will draw upon the effective and important wealth of juridical, liturgical, apostolic, and administrative experiences, wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion, which throughout twenty centuries, notwithstanding difficulties and contrasts, has become the common patrimony of men. It is a patrimony not well received by all, but always a rich treasure available to men of good will.

Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries. […]
… But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith [NB] or the truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing, the manner in which these truths are set forth – in the same meaning and understanding – is another. [NB… that last bit is often left out of translations!] And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.

Does that sound like what is going on today?

“adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness”

“a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine”

I have a PODCAzT about John XXIII’s speech.  HERE

This anniversary prompts me, once again, to urge that you dear readers begin to form small study groups.   Let’s call them “base communities”.

In self-enrichment and in self-defense, begin to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church together.

Read, review, study the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

US HERE – UK HERE (There are many editions.  Look around.)

I am a huge fan of Kindles (US HERE – UK HERE), but you should also have the BOOK, the material volume which you can hold in your hand and write in.  Get the book, which you can flip around in and hold spots in with a couple fingers as you cross check.

Read it.  Pick it up. Read portions every day.

St. John Paul II called the CCC, “a sure reference point”.

Finally, I have a personal anecdote about the CCC.

First, some strong Latin students were asked to contribute to the first Latin version of the CCC.  I was one of them (Matrimony).  It was a strange process.  The provisional text of the Catechism was composed mainly in French. The Italian text was prepared from the French, but Italian became the bases of the Latin version.  Imagine the difficulties that could arise when translating quotations, etc.   Keep in mind that the 1992 text was provisional.  It was eventually revised.  There were quite a few errors of citations, etc.  The text was given to my school, the Patristic Institute Augustinianum, for double-checking and verification and correction.  When that process was completed, the president of the Institute, who knew I worked in the Palazzo Sant’Uffizio across the road from the Augustininianum, asked me to deliver the finished text to the Cardinal Prefect.  And so, I carried the final version of the corrected, official LATIN text wrapped up in brown paper, up to Card. Ratzinger’s office and put it into his hands.  St. Pope John Paul II would promulgate that official Latin text in 1997 on the Feast of the Assumption.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. RAve says:

    You are the bomb. God has certainly showered down many blessings on you. Thanks for sharing so many tidbits with us along with all the substance you share with us.

  2. thomas tucker says:

    And to celebrate the anniversary, the a Pope gave a speech in which he said the Catechichism should be changed in its teaching about the death penalty. He said it was against Gospel values and that the deposit of faith has developed to this understanding. Can someone please explain to me how this doesn’t contradict what the ordinary universal magisterium has held regarding the death penalty?

  3. RAve says:

    If the Magisterium teaches “the Gospel permits X”

    And a person asserts non-magisterially “the Gospel forbids X”

    What is one to do?

  4. Lepidus says:

    Was the provisional version widely distributed? My copy looks a lot like the graphic, except on the top it says “International Best Seller” rather than “Complete and Updated”. It’s copyright is 1995 (purchased in 1995 as well). How screwed up is my version?

    [“Screwed up” is an exaggeration. However, it is better to have a later edition.]

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  6. EMF says:

    Hello –
    Not meaning to be rude and abrupt, but why would any English speaker/reader want an edition other than the green covered Libreria Editrice Vaticana ? It has so many more features than other editions. US HERE – UK HERE

    and in a readable format:


  7. Andrew says:

    In the same year (1985) when the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops proposed to the Pope the idea of producing a new Catechism, long forgotten manuscripts containing the original text of the Roman Catechism (ordered to be published by Pope Pius V), were found in the immense basement of the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana and shortly after, an international collaboration of experts started to work on a new critical edition of the Roman Catechism, which was published in Rome in 1989.

    It is an interesting exercise to compare the two Catechisms. Readers would be surprised, I presume, how similar the two Catechisms are with the exception of some short chapters of the new Catechism dealing with certain issues peculiar to our age, such as questions related to technological advances.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    What is with Vatican.va lately? I expect the world’s slowest English translations, but where’s the Spanish version of most stuff? Pope Francis’ native tongue is not that obscure. Even if he were to make the translation people use the Argentinean 2nd person plural.

  9. pjmpjm says:

    One of my most prized possessions is precisely one of these Navarre university, critical edition Catechismus romanus. My most expensive new book ever. Blue cloth cover, bible paper, etc. A masterpiece.

  10. Sonshine135 says:

    I still have the tan covered first edition in paperback. It is a well worn resource and I found it helpful to talk to my children and as a catechist for many years. The truths contained therein have always been easy to understand- even for young students, and have sparked many a discussion as young minds awakened to those truths.

  11. Absit invidia says:

    . . . and it still permits capital punishment.

  12. chantgirl says:

    All over the news today is the Pope’s coment about updating the catechism to change the teaching on the death penalty. Hopefully the current regime will be prevented from toying with the catechism. Can you imagine the verbosity, ambiguity, and sleights of hand that characterized AL being injected into the catechism? Or perhaps this idea of synodality and the need for constantly updating the teaching of the Church to be applied to the catechism? Would the catechism need updates every year like a software program to keep up with the winds of the culture? I can see it now- every synod a chance to argue endlessly about some settled point of doctrine that needs updating.

    Endless revolution. May Our Lady, destroyer of heresies, protect the Church.

  13. Charles E Flynn says:

    Thank you for your delivery of the official LATIN text.

    As someone who is really concerned with not losing data, was there a backup copy?

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  15. jaykay says:

    chantgirl: you said it!!

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