I’m a bit confused on the background behind the Catechism. Like what is it considered to be? What principles does it teach? Many authors? Etc. Just asking out of curiosity.
Which Catechism? The Church has had several. When I was a young girl, we had the Baltimore Catechism.
The most recent one is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I think that in the introduction it explains itself. Here is a link: vatican.va/archive/catechism/aposcons.htm
In essence, it’s the collected wisdom of the Church, in compact form. I don’t know specifically who the authors were, but I know that they were very well-educated scholars who had a strong dedication to making sure that the ordinary people had a way to learn about their Catholic faith. They worked with the approval of Pope John Paul II, who had a strong heart for evangelism, as witnessed by his many preaching tours throughout the world, and by the fact that he established the World Youth Day movement.
The Catechism is divided into four main subject areas: The Profession of the Christian Faith; the Celebration of the Christian Mystery; Life in Christ; and Christian Prayer.
Each section deals with every aspect of our Catholic faith from a particular viewpoint - in the first section, it’s from the point of view of the historical statements of faith; in the second section, it’s from the point of view of participation in the Sacraments of the Church; in the third section, it’s from the point of view of everyday living; and in the last section, it’s from the point of view of our most intimate relationship with God in prayer. In this way, every topic that comes up when we learn our faith gets thoroughly covered, and every “but what about this …?” question gets answered.
A catechism is a book of instruction on the faith. The word catechism comes from the Greek katēkhismos which means* to teach*. A catechism is a book used to teach the faith to others. A catechist is one who teaches. A catechumen is one who is being taught. All these words are derived from the original Greek used in the early church regarding teaching the faith.
Now, “the” catechism, often referenced on this site, is The Catechism of the Catholic Church. This document is written by the Catholic bishops as a teaching document and was published in 1992 in English. The Church, or various synods of bishops, have produced many catechisms over the years since the early church. One of the earliest catechisms is the Didache, written in the late first century.
Anyone who is qualified-- i.e. someone who has a degree in theology or other credentials in church teaching-- can write a catechism, a teaching aide for explaining the faith. For example, someone might write one on the level for children to understand, for teens, etc. The Catholic Church has a process for approving such texts.
While the term “catechism” is most typically used in the context of Catholics, Catholics are not the only denomination to have a catechism. Lutherans use a catechism in their religious instruction. Martin Luther wrote several.
Other denominations likely have a catechism-- a book that summarizes their beliefs and doctrines or is used in teaching them to others-- they just might not call it a catechism.
The Baltimore Catechism was written in several editions, each progressively a little more sophisticated in tone and language, for progressively older age groups.
This is Wikipedia, not the best source, but an ok summary explanation of the origin:
The Baltimore Catechism is still in print and is available for purchase.
The Amazon book reviews are also helpful.