What is the Catechism?
The word ‘catechism’ comes from the Greek word ‘catecho’ which simply means to teach or inform.
Originally ‘catechism’ just meant the teaching given to candidates preparing for baptism but later it took on a wider meaning and included the more general instruction of everyone in the Church.
From the Early Church to the present day, many local churches have produced catechisms for their own use. The Church Council, Vatican II, which ended in 1965, called for a new catechism to be made available to the whole Church. The purpose of this catechism would be not so much to correct errors in belief as to give a positive and comprehensive presentation of the Church’s teaching.
The new Catechism of the Catholic Church was published in English in 1994. It was the fruit of extensive worldwide collaboration between cardinals, bishops, theologians and catechists. In line with traditional catechisms, the new Catechism was built on four pillars: the Creed, the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments and The Lord’s Prayer. Its whole aim and purpose is reflected in this passage from the earlier Roman Catechism: “The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of Our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love, and have no other objective than to arrive at love”. (C.C.C. 25)