Is the Cathechism of the Catholic Church infallible? Are some parts fallible and others infallible? Is there anything within the Catechism up for discussion?


It is a teaching document of the ordinary magesterium and reiterates doctrine defined in various councils. The ordinary magesterium is infallible. The Catechism contains both doctrines and explanations of those doctrines. While the Catechism is not an infallible document, per se, the doctrines contained in it are.



I recall seeing a statement by Cardinal Ratzinger several years ago. In it he stated that the material in the Catechism derives its validity from the sources from which it is quoted. Being in the Catechism does nothing to change that validity.


Generally nothing in the Catechism is open to discussion. The Catechism itself is not infallible, but it contains the Infallible teaching of the Catholic Church.


So, to be a good Catholic, one needs nothing other than the Chatechism since this is where Scripture and Tradition are interpreted and the conclusions are not up for discussion. Why would any Catholic read the Bible or contemplate theology if everything is already infallibly decided?


As Joe Kelley said, the Catechism is just a compilation of Church teachings; the fact that they were compiled into a single book doesn’t elevate them all to infallible status. Teachings in the Catechism retain the same level of doctrinal and/or disciplinary force that they did when they were originally proposed. (Cardinal Ratzinger did write something to this effect some years ago.)


Because we are a people of the Word, not people of a book. We must involve our thought, words and deeds in fulfilling our Faith, Hope and Love.


Because the Catechism requires that the faithful read and be inspired from scripture to deepen the faith.


131 "And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life."109 Hence "access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful."110

132 "Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too - pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place - is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture."111

**133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.112 **

134 All sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, “because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ” (Hugh of St. Victor, De arca Noe 2, 8: PL 176, 642: cf. ibid. 2, 9: PL 176, 642-643).

135 “The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God” (DV 24).

136 God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors; he acts in them and by means of them. He thus gives assurance that their writings teach without error his saving truth (cf. DV 11).

137 Interpretation of the inspired Scripture must be attentive above all to what God wants to reveal through the sacred authors for our salvation. What comes from the Spirit is not fully "understood except by the Spirit’s action’ (cf. Origen, Hom. in Ex. 4, 5: PG 12, 320).

138 The Church accepts and venerates as inspired the 46 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New.

139 The four Gospels occupy a central place because Christ Jesus is their center.

140 The unity of the two Testaments proceeds from the unity of God’s plan and his Revelation. The Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfils the Old; the two shed light on each other; both are true Word of God.

141 “The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord” (DV 21): both nourish and govern the whole Christian life. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105; cf. Is 50:4).



Although the Catechism tells us how to interpret those passages and assertions from the Bible that are not up for discussion, the Catholic Church actually does not definitively interpret all that much scripture. There’s still a lot of room for different viewpoints. Further, the Catechism backs up many of its passages by referring to the various scriptures that it utilizes to make its points. Finally, your argument is like saying, “Why would anyone actually ever play a game of baseball when they can just pick up a rulebook and read that?” The rulebook is a must-read and a necessary starting point, but it isn’t the game itself.


Doctrines are not “up for discussion”. The Church teaches definitively on very few Scripture passages. And, as has already been posted, we are to study Scripture. Additionally, the Church is alive, the Body of Christ, and therefore it is more than reading about the Church that is necessary but also *participation in *the life of the Church through the liturgy and sacraments

“Everything” is most definitely not “decided”. Dogma and doctrine, of course, are. But, not everything is doctrine. And, every theologian is different in how they explain things-- therefore we can benefit greatly from reflecting on their works provided they have the imprimatur and nihil obstat. Studying the Bible draws us ever closer to Christ, the Word made flesh.


The copy I owned showed a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur on the fly leaf. There can’t be anything against Catholic teaching in the work or it would not have been endorsed.



Again, if the docrine and interpretation needed for salvation is all in the Catechism, wouldn’t reading the Bible for “inspiration” in fact lead to different ideas about how the Scripture is interpreted? After all, isn’t this what Luther did? And, if I’m not mistaken, reading the Bible was not always encouraged within the Church because of that exact reason. During the reformation, the Church actively tried to keep Bibles from being availabel to the common man so the interpretatin of the Church would be the only one anybody had the chance to know.

Your analagy is not quite correct. One would read the rule book prior to playing the game so the game could be played. It seems to me that the rule book of the Church is the Catechism since this is where the faithful learn what the Bible and Tradition actually mean. Therefore, if a Catholic does not read the rule book (the Catechism) the person is definately not going to be Catholic. One cannot be Catholic just from reading the Bible and taking ones own interpretations.

So, again, what’s the point? It seems there is a greater danger of losing ones faith by doing so. I have been Catholic all my life and I have only really started to have doubts since I started actually researching Scripture. Now, some of the teachings of the Church do not make as muich sense as they used too.

I’d be very interested to know what is actually up for discussion. All serious matters that I am aware of necessary for salvation have been infallibly defined. Therefore, why discuss and try to interpret the less important points that the Church has deemed not necessary for salvation. Catholics like myself struggle intensly every single day just to try and follow what has been commanded by the Church, let alone what has not.

By the way, I’m not trying to be argumentative or sarchastic. I am involved in these discussions because I feel so entirely lost about what I believe or should believe. This feeling can at times be literally painful. Just so you know where I’m coming from…


Given this statement, I would highly recommend that you keep very far away from anything of speculative nature regarding the faith. If you want to use the catechism I’d recomment that you start by reviewing the high points in Part I. This part is essentially an exploration of the fuller meaning of the Apostle’s Creed.


If the Holy Spirit is sitting on your shoulder, you will be guided towards understanding the Scriptures as the Church understands them. If you want to deepen your faith and your understanding of the faith, you could pray the Catechism in parallel with reading the Scriptures. I recommend beginning reading the Catechism with Part IV – the section on prayer. It is seraphic. The whole Catechism is seraphic but Part IV is double-whammy seraphic!


There is some risk of this if one goes out on their own without having been properly catechized that one might discover what appear to be inconsistencies. In another thread I just used the fact that there are quite a few apparent contradictions in scripture itself as a polemic against sola scriptura and fundamentalism. In essence I claim that such things are there not as artifacts of translation but as deliberate things to make it impossible for someone to “steal their way into heaven” by simply possessing “the bible”. In other words there is quite a recurring theme in scripture that those who are blinded by their own wisdom or pride or ‘who have eyes but can’t see and ears but can’t hear’ can not make sense from scripture in a way that profits them or merits them. And I really believe that scripture veils itself from those who try to profit by it insincerely - outside the faith and trust required. So again yes - there is a real danger that a wild read of scripture can lead to error. But I also think that a genuinely searching soul will take the things in scripture that strike them as “difficult” to comprehend or reconcile with teaching as a positive invitation to grow in the depth of their faith. Such should start asking The Church for teachings or search for greater meaning in other parts of scripture (I really like the cross referenced bible versions) to confirm one’s understanding or challenge a weak understanding.

When we are young and immature in our faith I think it is safe and fine to just take more of a “rote” view of scripture from our catechism. But as one increases in education, spiritual maturity and develops a disciplined mind an adult Christian should be able to profoundly expand their faith by letting their tap roots sink ever deeper into the greater dimensions of truth that really start to resonate as one reads more and prays. In fact studying and meditating on scripture can be very a prayerful and profoundly enlightening experience. At some point the faith becomes so developed that one is less concerned about their own salvation and really wants to identify with the greater Church and get out there and start building it up and working not just to bring their self to heaven but to bring in a wagon-load of souls for Jesus.

This is the only challenge I have with The Kingdom - we can never rest! The more we know (the more the Holy Spirit entrusts with us) the more that is expected of us. God pushes us to exceed ourselves…

Hope this helps - God Bless.



Not at all. We have the Magesterium and Deposit of Faith as a sure norm. If you are reading the Psalms, they can give you inspiration, hope, solace, etc. The story of Esther is inspirational and teaches us about faithfulness, repentance, etc. Jesus’s parables teach us how to be disciples of his.

We are not free to interpret Scripture in a way that contradicts the deposit of faith. For example, John 6 cannot be interpreted symbolically b/c the Church has a definitive teaching that it is not symbolic.

It can only lead to “different ideas” about interpretation when one ignores the Magesterium.

Not at all. Luther rejected the Magesterium-- the teaching office of the Church. If one reads Scripture with the mind of the Church one has a sure norm and will not go astray as Luther did. Luther divorced Scripture from the living Church and its guardians the Bishops.

This is untrue.

This is also untrue.

There was no attempt to keep the bible from the faithful. The only regulation surroundede translations, which had to be *approved *before it could be used by the faithful. If I translated the bible from Greek, trust me… it would be full of errors. It would be my responsibility to submit my translation to the Church and abide by their corrections or not publish it. The trouble occurred only when individuals created their own *unauthorized *translations-- such as Luther’s which was missing books and altered the text of passages-- and distributed it despite orders not to. This is still true today.

It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children the faith. The faithful also learn from preaching at the Mass and other liturgies. Catechisms and other text books are merely aids. Living the faith through the Liturgy and Sacraments, readnig the bible, and using devotional prayer aids, will keep a person on sound ground. People are catechized today, and have been catechized for thousands of years, without being able to read at all.

Then perhaps you should seek advice from your pastor for guidance and for bible study material suggetsions to help you interpret them, because there is no conflict with Scripture and church teaching.

Maybe a “for instance” would help because I’m really not following you here.


You hear this ALL the time from people who pick up a Bible one day and decide that the teaching of the Catholic Church is not consistent with Scripture. ALL THE TIME. But that is hogwash.

As a convert to the Catholic faith, trained as a minister in a Protestant denomination, I can testify that ONLY the Catholic Church has the depth and breadth of understanding that makes sense of ALL the Scripture. Be like St. Augustine, who said that if he had a problem with understanding Scripture the fault was in himself. I say that if you THINK Scripture contradicts Catholic teaching, then you are missing something important about EITHER the Scripture OR the teaching of the Church.

Catholic teaching is nothing if not lucid.


Yes, the Church did see a danger in personal interpretation being taken as infallible, which is very easily done when studying the Bible outside of the guidance of the Church.

But during the Reformation, neither side had anywhere NEAR the capability to provide a written copy of the Bible equally to everyone. Nor were there many common people that would’ve been able to read it. For this reason, BOTH sides relied just as heavily on preaching their own interpretation of the Bible.


Boy, I wish my faith was that clear. Consider yourself Blessed that you have that.


Because there is great joy and love in learning all that you possibly can about God.

Why study the stars or contemplate a rainbow?
Knowledge brings you closer to communion with God.

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