Catechism-Dutch/Baltimore or CCC? Confused


I am a new Catholic who was received into the church at Easter. I really enjoyed RCIA and has asked if in a small way I could maybe help out with RCIA classes next year. The priest and the people who lead the course have said yes and this week we had a planning meeting.

I was asked if there was anything that wasn’t covered this year but maybe should be next year. I suggest that maybe we could have a class just looking at the Catechism.

The priest said that the Catechism wasn’t originally written for the public and that it had been intended that each region would publish its own version. He also said that as well as the version thats sold here in the UK that there is a Dutch and Baltimore Catechism.

What is the difference between the Dutch Catechism, the Baltimore Catechism and the version that we can buy here in the UK. Just called the Catechism of the Catholic Church?



The universal one is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Local ones can and have been published but they must not state anything which contradicts the teachings contained in the CCC.


The Baltimore Catechism, first published in 1885, was superseded by Pope St. John Paul II’s Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and has now largely fallen into disuse.

The Dutch Catechism is a different case. It was the first new catechism published after Vatican II but from the outset has been considered controversial, for a number of reasons. Wikipedia explains:

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Thistle is correct.

The Baltimore Catechism is an older catechism that was developed about 100 years ago (or a little more) to teach Catholic school children in USA. Some of the stuff in it regarding certain moral teachings of the Church, for example how we regard Protestants and whether unbaptized babies go to Heaven, is not totally correct or complete when compared to the official CCC.

The CCC is the one you should use. It seems apparent from your priest’s answer that he doesn’t want to use the Catechism in RCIA for some reason. It’s possible he thinks it would be too complicated for beginners to understand, or that they might be confused by the fact that there are different catechisms around as he said.

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Thanks all.

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You might also check out the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, issued under Pope Benedict XVI. It’s a brief distillation of the teaching of the CCC in question/answer format. It’s very accessible, and it references the CCC in case you need to go deeper.



Below you will find “the Aim and Intended Readership” from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that you have seen in the UK. It was produced under the supervision of Cardinals and issued by John Paul II. Most Catholics use this catechism.

As suggested, it has been used by some bishops to produce new materials for catechesis. The US Bishops have even produced their own catechism, US Catholic Catechism for Adults. It contains stories of US saints and other elements the bishops felt were appropriate to the US.

III. The Aim and Intended Readership of the Catechism

11 This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church’s Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church’s Magisterium. It is intended to serve “as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries”.

12 This work is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis: first of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pastors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfilling their responsibility of teaching the People of God. Through the bishops, it is addressed to redactors of catechisms, to priests, and to catechists. It will also be useful reading for all other Christian faithful.
Catechism of the Catholic Church

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At the beginning of the CCC is a letter, Fidei Depositum from St. John Paul II. Section three, The Doctrinal value of the text, paragraph 2 and 3, explain your priests comments and question. He is correct.

That being said, most find the catechism so succinct that they use it by default. However it is fairly heady and may be difficult for some to comprehend, ergo why for example the simple question/answer format of the Baltimore catechism may be utilized or a local catechism.

Peace and God Bless

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When I went through RCIA we were give a copy of the CCC and a bible. Much of our learning came through those two books and I feel we received a well rounded basic education on what we needed to know to make a well informed decision to enter the Church.

The RCIA director in my current parish feels the CCC is too “complicated” for those in RCIA to comprehend and they should avoid it until they have been Catholic awhile. I teach them how to use it to answer questions about the faith.

Forget the Dutch… So many of us quickly bought the CCC when it came out, no reason not to have it, and good to have Baltimore C. too.

The Baltimore catechism was written for school children. I was taught from in grade school. It was written by a priest in a few weeks. The resurrection was covered in about 2 and a half pages. People seem to like it because it keeps things simple. Friends of our family once postulated that religious education should end in the 8th grade. My mother didn’t agree but said she understood the sentiment.

The truth is that the Catholic Faith is very complicated. I continue to learn more all the time. I believe that is what we are called to do. The BC can be a starter book to study on that journey but I think there are better ones. YouCat for example. I think that is the name.

St. Pope John Paul II explained the relationship between the universal catechism and local catechisms in 1992. Both contain the truth and both are to be used:

"This catechism is not intended to replace the local catechisms duly approved by the ecclesiastical authorities, the diocesan Bishops and the Episcopal Conferences, especially if they have been approved by the Apostolic See. It is meant to encourage and assist in the writing of new local catechisms, which take into account various situations and cultures, while carefully preserving the unity of faith and fidelity to catholic doctrine. "

Some recent catechisms of the Catholic Church are:

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition (1997)
  • Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2005)
  • Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (2011)
  • Christ Our Pascha Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (2011, English 2016)

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