Atonement in Catholicism

I’m trying to better understand the atonement from the Catholic point of view. Can someone explain to me what the Church teaches in this regard? Is there one theory of atonement or are Catholics permitted to speculate on the matter? I only ask because I tried searching this topic but found the answers unclear and confusing. Thank you.

Taken directly from the catechism:

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:40

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.41

40 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529.
41 Rom 3:21-26.

Related articles on expiation can be found in sections 457, 604, 615-616 and 1476.

This should help:

Thanks to both of you for such great information. It has really helped me understand the issue better. I find it rather shocking that the Reformed tradition believes God the Father hated God the Son during the Passion. That is really strange. :confused:

Do they? This is new to me (and not much is new to me). I am interested in this - would you help me find some source to study it?

The information is in the link I provided earlier in the thread. R.C. Sproul also talks about it here:

The Father damned the Son! That’s ridiculous. God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”, nowhere does scripture say that He damned the Son.

I wholeheartedly agree. Yet the Reformed reject many of our doctrines because they seemingly lack biblical evidence… Can anyone say “double standard”?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit