Best source of Authentic Catholic Teaching


What texts give the true annunciation of the Catholic teaching? And where are they to be found.


If you really want to see the exact texts, then this:


The Catechism of the Catholic Church


^^This is really the only one you should be reading.
In tandem with a Catholic Bible with good footnotes.


Really? Not even the Baltimore Catechism?


Yes indeed. Also, Dr. Ludwig Ott’s ‘Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma’.


@whiskeypriest , I go along with those who have recommended the Catechism of the Catholis Church .



For a full understanding of the Catholic Faith… Yes.

The Baltimore Catechism was meant to be a teaching tool specifically for American Catholics, not necessarily a compilation of full doctrine. It contains a lot of holes. It is the starting point from where you then go forward to fill in the blanks. The CCC is a full compendium of Dogma and Doctrine.


There is also a wealth of information at the Vatican resource archive website.

As authentic as it gets


If you are trying to research a very specific topic, the Vatican website, and some other references given, are good. But maybe 99 percent of us have a vague question about something, and are not sure what specific topic applies here. The CCC provides the topics in context with understandable, non technical language.
If you are in the one percent of laity who needs the really specialized answer, you will already have read the Catechism and you already know the technical terms used in the specialized sources. The vatican website is not difficult to read, it provides answers but not context. It won’t guide you in what is more important, what kind of question to ask.


True enough, I suppose, but it looks to me like the Vatican webmasters have made their site quite user friendly, and if you click the link for the Vatican resource archive, you’ll see a link for the Catechism, just below the Bible and above the Code of Canon Law :+1:


The 1891 version of the Baltimore Catechism online contains statements that are not in agreement with Church positions today on subjects like mixed marriage and unbaptized infants.

The sections dealing with mixed marriage say that a Catholic gets excommunicated if he marries before a Protestant minister (not true as canon law has changed), that the Church is “displeased” with mixed marriages and therefore doesn’t allow sacred vestments or holy water to be used at them, doesn’t bless the ring, doesn’t hold a Mass, and doesn’t let the marriage take place in a church or even in the sacristy (none of this is true anymore).

The section on unbaptized infants states that they cannot go to heaven, which is not what the current Catechism says.

I would not refer anyone new to the faith to the Baltimore Catechism.


I believe the “Penny” Catechism is very similar, if not identical, to the Baltimore Catechism. I was taught from it as a child at school in the UK. The question and answer format really helped me to remember the teaching. I would definitely recommend this alongside the formal Vatican teachings today.


No. Anything pre-dating the CCC is outdated.

If a question-and answer format is preferred, the Compendium of the Catechesim of the Catholic Church, based on the current Catechism, is available on the Vatican website, and is up-to-date. It follows very closely the format of the Baltimore Catechism, but has the advantage of reflecting current Church positions on various topics, in particular ecumenism and inter-religious relations.

These are really the only two sources, along with a good Catholic Bible, that the faithful should be using.


If you are in the United States there is also the Catholic Cathecism for Adults that is put out by the USCCB. It puts the Catechism into a narrative format (note: you still need a copy of the CCC to go with it).

United States Catholic Catechism for Adult


Also keep in mind that the Code of Canon Law was changed in 1983. The 1917 Code is superseded, so anything in the BC resting on Canon Law will be outdated. The '17 Code is superseded by the '83 Code. So that would cover things like dispensations from form for marriages, where and how a Catholic can marry a non-Catholic, etc.

For example, when my Catholic mother married my Anglican father, they could not be married in the church building with a nuptial Mass but were married by the priest in the rectory, in 1955; when I had my marriage convalidated with my Anglican wife, it was in the church itself after the Saturday evening Mass. We could have had a nuptial Mass if desired (but we chose simplicity).

While the basic doctrine of the Church hasn’t changed, her expression of it has (for example position on those of the Jewish faith), and most certainly her disciplines have changed. The CCC is the most up-to-date reflection of Church doctrine and current disciplines. I highly recommend it and refer to it frequently myself.


This is not really a good answer. Certain discipline’s may be more up to date and there may be more information on certain current issues or priorities, but since the faith is always the same, old Catechisms are still good. Here’s what Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) said of the Compendium you reference and its relationship to the Catechism of St. Pius X (another question-and-answer catechism).

The faith, as such, is always the same. Therefore, St. Pius X’s catechism always retains its value. However, the way of transmitting the contents of the faith can change.

Consequently, one can ask if St. Pius X’s catechism can in this respect be regarded as still valid today. I think that the compendium we are preparing can respond better to today’s needs. But this does not exclude the fact that there can be persons or groups that feel more comfortable with St. Pius X’s catechism.

It should not be forgotten that that Catechism stemmed from a text that was prepared by the Pope himself [Pius X] when he was bishop of Mantua. The text was the fruit of the personal catechetical experience of Giuseppe Sarto, whose characteristics were simplicity of exposition and depth of content. Also because of this, St. Pius X’s catechism might have friends in the future. But this does not make our work superfluous.

I think the above reasoning can also apply to the Baltimore Catechism.


I was catechized with it. I’m glad I was. The CCC is way too much information for a new Catholic. It is great in that it contains more information. But the Baltimore Catechism, with the extended answers, is great in that it explains some things better.

Even the outdated parts are good as it introduces how Catholics thought about the Faith in the past. Those sections aren’t wrong in as much as they were correct when written. Even as regards baptism this is all speculation. The practical result is rather than baptizing babies soon after birth modern Catholics wait months even almost up to a year.


The problem is that the Catechisms go way beyond the doctrines of the faith, as shown by the inclusion of material on limbo of infants, which was never an official doctrine of the Church.

Similarly, the fact that the Church now sees certain marriages of Catholics and Protestants in the Catholic Church in a different light is doctrinally based.

The 1891 Baltimore Catechism states that Catholics are excommunicated for various things for which the new Code does not impose such a penalty.

To put it as nicely as possible, the old Baltimore Catechism gives a lot of wrong impressions. An experienced Catholic can read it and sort those out, in many cases. A new Catholic is going to just take what is written at face value and then be surprised when they find the Church acting differently today.


I too was catechized with it. I agree it is helpful for a knowledgeable Catholic who wants to understand the evolution of the Church’s current views on subjects like baptism, mixed marriages, “do Protestants go to Heaven” etc. It’s not so good for somebody brand new to the Faith who is likely to be confused by the old views being at the very least expressed differently from the current views.

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