From the Greek κατηχε[symbol omitted]ν (to speak so as to be heard, hence to instruct orally; cf. Lk 1.4; Act 18.25; Rom2.18; Gal 6.6). A catechism according to an English-speaking and German usage is a manual of Christian doctrine, often in question and answer form (German, Katechismus ). In Romance languages, the term also signifies the act of catechizing, the work of presenting Christian doctrine or an individual lesson, especially to the young (French, catéchisme; Italian, catechismo ).
Patristic and Early Medieval Periods. Catechisms (catecheses ) in the patristic era were traditionally pre-baptismal and adult in orientation (e.g., Cyril of Jerusalem, Κατηχήσεις John Chrysostom, 'Ομιλίαι κατηχητικαί; Augustine, at the end of Catech. Rud., Sermones 212–215; Rufinus of Aquileia, Commentarius in symbolum apostolorum ). At times these lectures and homilies dealt with the immediately postbaptismal doctrinal needs of new Christians, in which case they were called "mystagogic" or simply "paschal" (e.g., Cyril of Jerusalem, Κατηχήσεις μυσταγωγικαί; Augustine, Selected Easter Sermons, ed. P. Weller, St. Louis 1959). Throughout the carolingian and early and high medieval periods, numerous handbooks were produced that had the Christian formation of clergy and laity as their aim. Among these might be named the Disputatio puerorum per interrogationes et responsiones attributed doubtfully to Alcuin (d. 804; Patrologia Latina [PL] 101:1097–1144), the 9th-century Catechesis Weissenburgensis by a monk of that monastery (ed. G. Eckhard, Hanover 1713), the 12th-century Elucidarium attributed to Honorius of Autun (PL 172:1109–76; cf. Y. Lefèvre, L'Elucidarium et les lucidaires, Paris 1954), and the ingenious compendium of Hugh of Saint-Victor in that same century, De quinque septenis seu septenariis (PL 175:406–414). These treatises might be called the second layer of adult catechetical formation, suitable for those who could read Latin.
More basic were the catechisms proposed by bishops, emperors, and Church synods to be spoken orally to the unlettered faithful by those who had the cura animarum. Among these, which invariably assumed phrase-by-phrase expositions by the clergy of the two baptismal prayers, Apostles' Creed and Our Father, and a list of vices to be avoided, might be mentioned the Capitularia of Charlemagne (a.d. 802; PL 97:247) and his letter (15) to Garibaldus (PL 98:917–918); the synods of Leipzig (a.d. 743; PL 89:822, c.25), Clovesho (a.d. 747; J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio 12:398, c.10), Frankfurt (A.D. 794; Mansi 13:908,c.33), Aachen (a.d. 802; PL 97:247, c.14), Arles (a.d.813; Mansi 14:62, c.19), Mainz (a.d. 813; Mansi 14:74,c.45, 47), and Trier (a.d. 1227; Mansi 23:31, c.8). The synod of Albi (a.d. 1254; Mansi 23:836, c.17, 18) required pastors to explain the articles of the creed simply each Sunday, and children to be brought to Mass from the age of seven onward, and at the same time to have the Pater, Ave, and Credo explained to them. The Council of Lambeth demanded that this instruction be given by pastors four times a year on feast days, "without any fantastic weaving of subtle adornment," and that it include "the fourteen articles of faith [i.e., the Creed], the Ten Commandments of the Decalogue, the precepts of the gospel, namely the two concerned with charity, the seven works of mercy, the seven capital sins and their progeny, the seven principal virtues, and the seven Sacraments of grace" (a.d. 1281; Mansi 24:410). In 1357 the Convocation of York approved a series of ordinances very similar to the canons of the Council of Lambeth published in 1281 that outlined the contents and frequency of catechetical instruction. They were expanded and translated into English verse for the benefit of the clergy who could not understand Latin. Despite the fact that the work became known as The Lay Folks'Catechism, it was written primarily to help parish priests instruct the faithful who in turn were to teach their children. About the same time a council in Lavaur, France issued a similar catechism (a.d. 1368; Mansi 26:486). In the Lavaur catechism a summary of the necessity of faith comes first; next, a severe charge to the clergy on its obligations to catechize; third, the 14 articles and seven Sacraments, "on which the whole Christian religion is based." Seven virtues and their opposing vices come after these "truths to be believed." These, together with the seven gifts of the Spirit and the beatitudes that correspond to them, are the "things that are to be loved," and the seven petitions of the Our Father describe the "things to be hoped for." In the 14 articles of the Creed, seven are said to pertain to the Deity proper, seven others to the humanity of Christ.
Influence of St. Augustine. The scheme of multiples of seven seems to have originated with Augustine's treatise on the Sermon on the Mount (PL 34:1229–1308), in which he reduces the beatitudes to seven by identifying the last one in Matthew's Gospel with the first, then compares them with the seven gifts of the Spirit from the Vulgate version of Is 11 in reverse order that in turn correspond to the seven petitions in the Lord's Prayer. This mnemonic device emerged as supreme in medieval practice via popularizers such as Isidore of Seville, Rabanus Maurus, and especially Hugh of St. Victor's De quinque septenis seu septenariis. Hugh's "five sevens" are the seven deadly sins, seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven virtues, and the seven Beatitudes.
A second insight of Augustine was his threefold division of all doctrine in his Faith, Hope, and Charity (c. a.d. 422; known as the Enchiridion; ). In it the "confession of faith is briefly summed up in the Creed…. Butof all those matters which are to be believed in the true spirit of faith, only those pertain to hope which are contained in the Lord's Prayer" (114), while "all the divine commandments hark back to charity …. Of coursethe charity meant here is the love of our neighbor" (121). Augustine's extended treatment of the creedal articles (9–113) is in the speculative vein. The petitions of the Lord's Prayer (114–116) are seven in number, "three of which request eternal goods, the remaining four, temporal goods necessary for the attainment of the eternal." The Holy Spirit, it is pointed out, "diffuses charity in our hearts" (121).
Although Augustine entirely subordinates the Decalogue to the twofold commandment of love of God and love of neighbor in the Enchiridion (117–122), he is often said to have pioneered in presenting the Ten Commandments as a framework for Christian morality (Catech. Rud. 35.41). The convenient ten headings prevailed, and indeed in a Mosaic spirit of observance, while Augustine's stress on the Holy Spirit as the finger of God who wrote on the stone tablets and again at Pentecost was largely forgotten (cf. P. Rentschka, Die Dekalogkatechese des hl. Augustinus, Kempten 1905).
Paradoxically, Augustine's best insight survived least well, namely, the narratio of the story of salvation in six epochs (aetates ), of which the seventh was eternity, the Day of the Lord. This idea is developed in two sample introductory catecheses at the end of De catechizandis rudibus. The landmark figures of the six ages are Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, the Babylonian captivity, and Christ, "from [whose] coming the sixth age is dated" (39). Augustine was still in a millenarian phase at this writing (c. 405), but the important matter was his presentation of the Church's faith in a historical framework. He was the first to deal with the life of the Church (the sixth aetas ) as sacred history in the same sense as the events described in Scripture.
Augustine's greatness as a catechist resided in his musings on the relation between symbol and reality, word and truth, speech and thought. The psychological optimum for the reception of an idea figured largely in his catechetical theory. Lesser teachers, unable to handle his poetic diction or his psychology, gravitated to his reasoned reflections on the mysteries. The result was a rationalized Christianity cut off from its Biblical sources despite the massive use of the Bible made by Augustine (42,816 citations from both Testaments according to P. de Lagarde). The catechisms derived from his writings set the tone of Christianity in the West for 1,000 years. In departing from his Biblical and liturgical concerns and concentrating on his rationale of the mysteries, they created a vacuum of evangelical preaching and catechizing that the Reformers filled.
Middle Ages. Treatises on Christian life, such as Alcuin's De virtutibus et vitiis on perfection for the soldier (PL 101:613–638), continued into the Middle Ages as a genre on the art of living and dying. Among these were L'Art de mourir attributed to Matthew of Cracow, Bishop of Worms (1478), Tafel der kerstlygken Levens (1475), and various shepherd's almanacs filled with secular and sacred information, such as the Compost ou Kalendrier des bergiers (Paris 1492). From the invention of printing onward, and even before, woodcut illustrations were used both in books and as wall charts (tabulae ).
St. Thomas Aquinas. St. thomas aquinas in his various adult catechetical treatises had not been guilty of an imbalanced concern with Christian behavior. These works were chiefly his Compendium theologiae, done on Augustine's pattern of faith, hope, and charity (1272–73, broken off when he was only ten chapters into hope and the petition "thy kingdom come" ) and the reportatum in Latin of 57 of his Italian sermons delivered at Naples during Lent 1273 on the Creed (15), the Lord's Prayer (10), and the law, i.e., charity and the Decalogue (32), to which should be added his earlier conferences on the Hail Mary and a treatise on the Church's Sacraments done for the archbishop of Palermo in 1261. In these lectures, fully scholastic in tone though they were, there was at least a healthy concern for the revealed mysteries.
Jean Gerson. The next major figure in the history of medieval catechesis is Jean gerson (1363–1429). Forcibly retired as chancellor of Paris in his last years (1409–12), Gerson taught catechism in Lyons and continued to write. He is best known for L'ABC des simples gens, for a personal apologia for his engagement in the work of catechizing entitled Tractatus de parvulis trahendis ad Christum [Opera Omnia (Antwerp 1706) 3.278–291], and an Opus tripertitum (ibid. 1.426–450) on the Commandments, confession, and dying well. In the last-work the attention given to moral precepts is so considerable that the writer's initial concern with the mysteries of faith has shrunk to a kind of prologue.
Pre-Reformation. The lectures survived in medieval pulpit preaching until Trent, but the strain represented by Gerson's writing continued much stronger. Thus, Dietrich Kolde's influential Christenspiegel of 1480 (ed. C. Drees, Werl 1954) was extremely moralistic, as was Johannes Herolt's Liber discipuli de eruditione Christi fidelium (Strasbourg 1490). The latter devotes six pages to the Creed, three to the Our Father, and 101 to morality under the headings Commandments, deadly sins, and various moral precepts [cf. P. Bahlmann, Deutschlands katholische Katechismen bis zum Ende des 16 Jahrhunderts (Münster 1894) 12; also P. Göbl, Geschichte der Katechese im Abendland vom Verfall des Katechumenates bis zum Ende des Mittelalters (Kempten 1880)].
From the close of the patristic period (i.e., from the 9th or 10th century) through the whole Tridentine era, little was done to relate beatitudes, works of mercy, evangelical counsels, fruits of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and almsgiving to the story of salvation as it culminated in the redemptive deed of Christ. They are lumped together with effectus divinitatis or bona redemptionis, i.e., related in a most general way to the works of the Spirit that conclude the Apostles' Creed. Although Jungmann's studies (Pastoral Liturgy, New York 1962) show the conservative force of medieval culture on folk piety, Rudolf Padberg (Erasmus als Katechet, Freiburg 1956) is quite right in describing the entire medieval period as a catechetical vacuum.
Humanism. Late in the fifteenth century a number of humanists, including Erasmus, tried another tack. Among their attempts were the brief Cathecyzon (c. 1510) by John Colet, Dean of St. Paul's and founder of its school, and Erasmus' adult catechism of 1533 [Dilucida et pia explanatio symboli … decalogi praeceptorum, et dominicae praecationis; Opera Omnia (Leyden 1706) 5.1133–96]. By the onset of the reformation the Catholic catechisms in commonest use included books of piety such as the Liber Jesu Christi pro simplicibus (1505) and the catechisms of J. Dietenberger (Cologne 1530) and G. Witzel or Vicelius (Leipzig 1535).
Luther. The catechism genre took definitive form in the 16th century and became a powerful instrument in the cause of reform. In 1529 Martin Luther published two catechisms, the Der kleine Katechismus, his Small Catechism, and his Deutsch Katechismus that came to be known as Der grosser Katechismus, his Large Catechism. Luther's preface to the Small Catechism clearly stated that it was intended to be in the hands of the lower clergy an instrument to instruct the uneducated laity. It was in the tradition of medieval catechesis, but Luther introduced three notable innovations: First he reordered the sequence, treating the Ten Commandments before explaining the Creed. Second, instead of dividing the Creed into 12 or 14 articles, he focused on three, the salvific work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And third, influenced by the Bohemian Brethren, he introduced the question-answer method that was to become in a staple in Protestant and Catholic catechisms alike. Luther's Large Catechism is distinguished chiefly by its insight into the daily life of the peasant, its concern with the "existential" character of the gospel, and its reliance on God's action rather than man's as ultimately effective in the work of salvation.
St. Peter Canisius. Canisius, the apostle of Catholic Germany in the Reformation period, produced three handbooks of Catholic faith: a maior catechismus (Vienna 1555), a minimus bound in with a Latin grammar, as Colet's had been (Ingolstadt 1556), and a parvus or minor (Cologne 1558). All three were done in Latin first, then in German (S. Petri Canisii Cat. Lat. et Germ., ed. F. Streicher, Munich 1933–36). The intermediate one, entitled Capita doctrinae christianae compendio tradita …, became normative in many countries. It was composed of 124 questions and two appendices, one of Scripture texts against heretics and the other a quotation from Augustine on steadfastness in faith. There were five parts, three on the theological virtues and the matching prayers (or law), a fourth on the Sacraments, and a fifth on "duties of Christian holiness" (the smallest catechism had featured sins and the opposing goods in this fifth place). The first four doctrinal sections taught sapientia; the last, justitia. Canisius claimed authorship of the books only in 1566, although publishers had attributed it to him as early as 1559. In 1569 a fellow Hollander named P. de Buys (see busaeus) produced with Canisius' help a work that supplied more than 4,000 references to Scripture and the Fathers for the Catechismus maior (4 v. Cologne 1569–70); this work is generally known as Opus catechisticum, a title given it in its revision by J. Hase (Cologne 1577).
St. Robert Bellarmine. Bellarmine produced his Dottrina cristiana breve in 1597 [ Opera omnia (Paris 1874) 12:261–282], a brief handbook deriving from his instruction of Jesuit brother cooperators at Rome. It began with the sign of the cross, then went on to Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Ten Commandments, precepts of the Church, counsels, Sacraments, virtues, gifts, works of mercy, gifts of the Spirit, four last things, and mysteries of the rosary.
A year later (1598), motivated by the demands of office in his brief archbishopric of Capua, Bellarmine produced what might be called a teacher's manual of doctrine, Dichiarazione più copiosa della d.c. (ibid., 283–332). The student is the questioner here, and the teacher, the respondent at length. Bellarmine follows Augustine's three virtues as the way to know what things are credenda, speranda, and amanda. The Sacraments that follow the threefold listings of obligations (cf. above) are those means "by which the grace of God is acquired." All the matters that come after "the four principal parts of doctrine," i.e., from the theological and moral virtues onward, "help greatly in living in conformity with the will of God."
Other Efforts. The Jesuits Edmond auger writing in France (1530–1591) and Jer—nimo Martinez de ripalda, in Spain (1536–1618) produced handbooks similar to the above two.
The Tridentine Catechism. The Council of trent adjourned in 1563, and the catechism its Fathers asked for was ready in Latin (having been composed in Italian) by 1566. A trio of Dominicans led by a certain Foreiro wrote it; a secular priest humanist named Poggianus was the polisher of its phrasing. The catechism of the council of trent, a manual for parish priests, running to more than 400 pages, is popularly known as Catechismus Romanus, though the full title in its first edition (Rome 1566) was Catechismus ex Decreto Concilii Tridentini ad parochos Pii V Pontificis Maximi iussu editus. Its fourfold division is: (1) faith and the Creed, (2) the Sacraments, (3) the Decalogue and the laws of God, (4) prayer and its necessity, chiefly the Lord's Prayer. The restoration of the Sacraments to an integral place in the plan of Redemption rather than as aids to observing the precepts is important; so is the book's heavy reliance on Scripture and the Fathers in place of the metaphysically tinged vocabulary of the scholastics. The general tenor of doctrinal exposition is Augustinian.
Attempts such as that of Trent in a humanist vein had been made by Cardinal Stanislaus hosius, Confessio catholicae fidei christianae vel potius explicatio quaedam confessionis (Vienna 1561), and by Bp. Friedrich nausea, In catholicum catechismum libri sex (Cologne 1543); but all three were fated to lose out in popular exposition to the medieval lists or "truths." Canisius genuinely admired Trent's catechism but his neater summaries and classifications prevailed. Bellarmine said it was his model, but it is doubtful that he understood the attempt it represented. In fact, the little use (more accurately, the highly selective use) made of it by catechism authors since 1566 is perhaps the most notable feature about it. There is reason to think this handbook was quite influential in the pulpit over the years, but again, in proportion to the capacities of the priests who used it. It is quite unmarked by a polemical tone once it has mentioned "pernicious errors" in the introduction. The same introduction gives high promise of a throughgoing evangelical or kerygmatic theology that is never realized. The times were simply incapable of it, the more especially as a genuine evangelical release was overtaking the Church in tandem with unmistakably heretical positions.
After Trent. Post-Tridentine catechisms were in the mold of those by Bellarmine, Canisius, Auger, and Ripalda in the four chief language groups or in translations from one of the first two.
English and American. Laurence Vaux translated and adapted Canisius in 1567 as A Catechisme of Christian doctrine necessarie for Children and ignorante people (Louvain 1567; repr. Manchester 1885), deriving additional help from Pedro de soto's Methodus confessionis… seu epitome (Dillingen 1567). What came to be known as the Doway Catechism was produced by Henry Turberville, a professor at the English College there, sometime before 1649, the date of a third edition (An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine: with Proofs of Scripture on Points Controverted ). The order is Bellarmine's, but the treatment is Turberville's own. Its tenor is Bible-quoting, polemical, allegorical, adult. Two other British efforts were those of Richard challoner of London (The Catholic Christian Instructed, 1737) and George Hay of Edinburgh (The Sincere Christian, 1781; The Devout Christian, 1783). John lingard wrote Catechistical Instruction on the Doctrines and Worship of the Catholic Church in 1836 (London 1840). All the above-mentioned were being published in the United States until well into the 19th century. Abp. John carroll abridged Hay's larger works (1772) in a form that contributed verbally to the Baltimore catechism. Meanwhile, in Ireland Abp. James Butler of Cashel produced a catechism (1775) that was revised by order of a Synod of Maynooth (1875) and in that form (1882) recommended itself to substantial borrowings in the United States. Archbishop John McHale oversaw a bilingual Christian Doctrine (1865) for his Irish-speaking Diocese of Tuam. Among those in the United States who produced catechisms in the 19th century, all of them European-derived, were J. H. mccaffrey (Baltimore before 1865) and J. P.A. verot (Augusta 1864). The English-language efforts described above were all lineal descendants in the tradition of the "four principal parts of doctrine." When they halted to make a brief explanation, it was generally in the spirit of a work such as Rufinus of Aquileia's Commentarius in symbolum or a similar Augustine-derived source.
French. Attempts were made in France in the Enlightenment period to follow through on Augustine's two Biblical catecheses in De catechizandis rudibus. They included Claude fleury's Catéchisme historique (Paris 1683), which is prefaced by a claim of the superiority of the Bible's method of storytelling and a fairly mild disquisition against the usefulness of theology's method in catechetics. Methodologically Fleury presented material in expository lesson form with prayers from the liturgy interspersed and questions at the end.
François pouget, an Oratorian, produced a similar Bible-oriented catechism, Instructions générales en forme de catéchisme où l'on explique en abrégé, par ecriture sainte et par la tradition, l'histoire et les dogmes… la morales … les sacraments, les prières … (Paris 1702). Fleury subsequently went on the Index as a Gallican; Pouget, too, because his patron Bp. Colbert of Montpellier was a Jansenist. Both catechisms were unexceptionable.
Jacques Benigne Bossuet, bishop of Meaux, produced the Biblical Le second catéchisme before his formal doctrinal one [Oeuvres complètes (Bar-le-Duc 1687) 10].
Italian. Italy broke away from the Bellarmine mold somewhat with the Compendio della dottrina cristiana by Bp. Casati of Mondov" (1765). It was in the spirit of the catechisms of Montpellier and Meaux and was probably the work of Canon G. M. Giaccone.
German. Similar forerunners of modern Biblical catechisms appeared in Germany in the 19th century, beginning with the Biblische Geschichte des Alten und Neuen Testaments by Bernard von overberg (Münster 1804).J. I. von felbiger (1785), C. von schmid (1801), I. Schuster (1845), G. mey (1871), and F. J. Knecht (1880) all produced "Bible histories" in which virtuous conduct was excerpted from the Scriptures to illustrate and augment the catechism lesson. Overberg had the larger vision, seeing the Bible as the "history of God's gratuitous concern for man's salvation." The same idea was found in the Biblische Geschichte der Welterlöserung durch Jesum der Sohn Gottes (Augsburg 1806) by B. Galura, Bishop of Brixen. Overberg was the reformer of the schools of Westphalia and a friend of Goethe; he rightly deserves to be named with educators such as Pestalozzi and Herbart. Galura studied at the University of Vienna for a year before his ordination—uncommon enough— and tried to come to terms with the spirit of the Aufklärung in his Grundsätze der sokratischer Katechisiermethode (1793). In a six-volume reform of the plan of theology, Neueste Theologie de Christentums (Augsburg 1800–04), he identified as the Grundidee of the Bible the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. Other important figures were Augustin Gruber, Archbishop Of Salzburg (1823–35), who gave lectures to his priests on the Augustinian technique of the sacred narratio and the necessity of inductive explanation before any memory is required (Katechetische Vorlesungen, 1830–34); Johann Baptist hirscher, who tried to bridge the gap between sacred history and doctrinal formation in his theoretical essay Katechetik (Tübingen 1831) and his larger and smaller Catholic catechisms (Freiburg 1842, 1845); and another professor of the new discipline pastoral theology, J. M. sailer, whose lectures on that subject (Munich 1788) demanded instruction based on the Bible for pedagogic reasons of concreteness and immediacy, so as to "form man in the divine life rather than instruct him intellectually." It is evident that in German-speaking lands the demands of child nature were being heard for perhaps the first time. France had known something similar through the efforts of the clergy at the parish of Saint-Sulpice, Paris, and of Bp. Dupanloup of Orléans (cf. J. Colomb, "The Catechetical Method of St. Sulpice" in Shaping the Christian Message, ed. G. Sloyan, New York 1958); but the pedagogic efforts of the Germans, Austrians, and Swiss were much more realistic in their develop-mentalist theories on the nature of the child.
A number of 19th-century catechisms tried to depart from subject matter orientation and to center on the individual's natural concern for himself with questions like "Why did God make you?" The only clear result was an anthropocentricism in a pejorative sense. Very shortly the authors were back at the business of a summary of doctrine in theological form with a largely apologetic concern. The great figure in Germany who updated Canisius, but without his Biblical or patristic unction, was Josef deharbe, SJ, whose catechism, or Lehrbegriff (1847), based on the theological manual of G. Perrone, had a vigorous history (in German-speaking America, among other places). His work was subsequently revised by Josef Linden, SJ (1900), and T. Mönnichs, SJ (1925), the latter the so-called German Einheitscatechismus.
Towards a Universal Catechism. With every passing year the number of catechisms grew so that already in 1742 Pope Benedict XIV recommended that Bellarmine's catechism become standard throughout the Catholic world. In 1761 Pope Clement XIII protested against the rationalism of the englightenment. He urged a uniform catechetical method that would employ the same words and expressions. In the 1770s Empress Maria Teresa directed Johann Ignaz von Felbiger to edit a series of catechisms for use in the schools throughout Austria and Bohemia. Emperor Napoleon I commissioned and ordered an imperial catechism, to be used "in all the churches of the French empire." There was much support for a uniform catechism at the First Vatican Council. After much debate (and some compromise) the Council Fathers approved the Schema constitutionis de parvo catechismo (1870). It directed that a short catechism be drawn up, "modelled after the Small Catechism of the Ven. Cardinal Bellarmine." The stated intention was to "facilitate the disappearance in the future of the confusing variety of other short catechisms."
Because of the hasty adjournment of the council, the decree was not promulgated and the project was never heard of again.
There were brief, abortive efforts in the same direction by Pope Pius X in favor of his own Compendio della dottrina cristiana (1905) and likewise by Cardinal Gasparri with his three-level Catechismus catholicus, which Pope Pius XI praised faintly.
National Catechisms. In the United States the bishops made repeated attempts to reach agreement on a uniform catechism for the whole country. In the wake of Vatican I, they achieved their goal. The Catechism of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1885), was the fruit of the labors of J. de Concilio, priest of Newark, and J.L. spalding, Bishop of Peoria, Ill. It had 421 questions in 37 chapters and more than 72 pages. There are no "parts" ; the order is Creed, Sacraments (gifts, fruits, and beatitudes after Confirmation), prayer, Commandments, and last things. A revision of 1941 by the bishops' committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, with which the name of F. J. Connell, CSSR, is most closely associated, returned to the order Creed, Commandments, Sacraments, prayer. Both are theological summaries (the latter testifying to little of the theological progress of the intervening 55 years). Neither professes any pedagogical concern.
In a similar vein, France produced a national catechism in 1938 that was much criticized for its length and technical vocabulary. A national commission for its revision was set up in 1941, and in 1947 under the authorship of Canons Camille Quinet and André Boyer a much-improved catechism in the form of a pupil text was produced. It is composed of lessons and has a general Biblical-liturgical orientation, though "doctrines of faith" provide the Leitmotiv. Belgium received a revised national catechism unmarked by distinctive features in 1947. The German national Katholischer Katechismus appeared in 1955 (Freiburg) after having been begun in 1938 and interrupted by World War II. It is intended for children of the upper elementary years and is in four parts, following the schema of the Creed in 12 articles. Almost half the lessons fall under the heading "The Forgiveness of Sins," including temptation, sin, the Sacraments, and grace. A multivolume teacher's manual, at present incomplete, accompanies it. The initial claims in its favor that it fulfilled all the hopes of the kerygmatic renewal have been tempered somewhat by closer examination, but it is unquestionably a modern watershed. It was translated into 22 languages within five years of its appearance. Although the catechism is anonymous, the men most closely connected with its production included G. Fischer, H. Fischer, F. Schreibmayr, and K. Tilmann. Austria produced a national catechism conceived along similar lines in 1960, guided by Vienna's director of religious education, L. Lentner. England's bishops have one in preparation.
In 1963 and 1964 the Australian bishops published a Catholic Catechism for the upper four elementary grades in two volumes with matching teacher's manuals (Sydney). J. Kelly of the Archdiocese of Melbourne was its chief architect. The trend begun in the German catechism is brought to a relative perfection in the two pupil's books of the Australian product. So much is this so that national hierarchies now have to face the question of the merit of expressing the Church's faith in a single, fixed form for school children in these sensitive years. Modern universal literacy is a major consideration. The "official" catechism took its rise in a period of near illiteracy, and its commitment to memory was largely predicated on that fact. Ecclesiologically, the position that saw in the fixed formularies of the catechism a faithful reflection of the fontes revelationis, to be coupled, after the Scriptures, with liturgies, creeds, and councils, prevailed for 15 centuries.
In Holland plans for a new catechism were being laid in the 1950s, but under the influence of the Second Vatican Council, the focus changed. De nieuwe Katechismus, published by the Dutch hierarchy late in 1966, was designed for adults. A maelstrom of controversy swirled about the "Dutch Catechism" because its critics, friendly and unfriendly, saw it as reshaping the catechism genre and redefining the task of catechesis. Aimed at adults, it sought to bring the Christian message into dialogue with issues of the contemporary world. When a second edition was published (1968), it had a supplement that addressed the points that Church authorities found ambiguous in the original edition.
Despite the controversy that surrounded it, the Dutch Catechism became a model for other national catechisms in that it was directed toward at adults. In 1985 the German Episcopal Conference published a Katholischer Erwachsenen-Katechismus (English translation, The Church's Confession of Faith: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, San Francisco, 1987). In 1986 the bishops of Spain published Esta es nuestra fe. Esta es la fe de la iglesia, a work intended for both young people and adults, especially people responsible for catechesis. The following year the Belgian hierarchy issued Livre de la foi (English translation, Belief and Belonging, Collegeville, 1991), a catechism for adults that the bishops intended as an instrument to aid in the re-evangelization of the country. In 1991 the bishops of France published Catéchisme pour adultes, five years in the making. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines approved a Catechism for Filipino Catholics that is described as an "adult catechism" in so far as "it provides a sourceb-book for those who address the typical Sunday Mass congregation of an ordinary Filipino parish" (par. 16).
In the years following the Second Vatican Council many Church leaders, citing the precedent of the Roman Catechism published after the Council of Trent, called for a new "conciliar catechism." In response to a formal proposal made at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops assembled to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Vatican II, Pope john paul ii appointed a commission of 12 cardinals to oversee the compilation of a new catechism. When John Paul introduced the new Catechism of the Catholic Church with the apostolic constitution Fidei depositum in 1992, he acknowledged that the arrangement of the Four Pillars (Creed, Sacred Liturgy, Christian Way of Life, and Prayer) followed the traditional order found in the Tridentine Catechism. The purpose of the new Catechism is manifold: John Paul wrote that it is "to serve as a sure norm for teaching the faith." It is to provide "the Church's Pastors and the Christian faithful" with "a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms." It is a means whereby the faithful can deepen their knowledge of "the unfathomable riches of salvation," an instrument "to support ecumenical efforts" by presenting "the content and wondrous harmony of the Catholic faith," and finally, a reference work for everyone "who wants to know what the Catholic church believes."
The publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church shifts emphasis from uniformity to unity. It signals the abandonment of the quest for a single catechetical text that would be standard throughout the Catholic world. Towards the conclusion of the apostolic constitution Fidei depositum, Pope John Paul reiterates the point that the Catechism "is meant to encourage and assist in the writing of new local catechisms, which take into account various situations and cultures, while carefully preserving the unity of faith and fidelity to Catholic doctrine." Thus, as the number of Catechisms continues to grow, they are marked by variety in style and presentation while at the same time witnessing to the unity of faith transmitted by the Scriptures and proclaimed in the Church's liturgy.
Bibliography: e. mangenot, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 1903–50) 2.2:1895–1968. j. a. jungmann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 6:27–54. l. csonka, "Storia della catechesi," Educare III (3d ed. Zurich 1964) 61–190. j. hofinger, "The Right Ordering of Catechetical Material," Lumen Vitae 2 (1947) 718–746; j. a. jungmann, Die Frohbotschaft und unsere Glaubensverkündigung (Regensburg 1936); Glaubensverkündigung im Lichte der Frohbotschaft (Innsbruck 1962). r. padberg, Erasmus als Katechet (Freiburg 1956). g. s. sloyan, ed., Shaping the Christian Message (New York 1958). p. braido, Lineamenti di storia della catechesie dei catechismi (Rome 1989). r.brodeur, ed., Les Catéchismes au Québec 1702–1963 (Sainte-Foy/Paris 1990). b. l. marthaler, The Catechism Yesterday and Today (Collegeville, MN 1995). j.-c. dhotel, Les origines du catéchisme moderne (Paris 1967).
[g. s. sloyan/eds.]
"Catechisms." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 15, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/catechisms
"Catechisms." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/catechisms
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