Hello all! I am new here, though I have been lurking for a while. I am a Protestant considering converting to Catholicism. I’m wondering, is there one comprehensive piece of literature that has all the required Catholic beliefs in it? Like something I can read and know this and only this is what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, no more, no less? Thanks!
The Catecism of the CC…scborromeo.org/ccc.htm
The basic Catholic Christian beliefs are described in the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
and in the Four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles.
We are required to accept these teachings.
A much more comprehensive work on Catholic teachings is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
A good basic work on Catholicism is Father Trigilio’s Catholicism for Dummies.
Yes, this is good.
But that’s not really all there is to it. In the same way that we don’t just study Jesus’ teachings, but instead come to love Jesus the person, we don’t just assent to a set of teachings of the Church, but come to have a relationship of trust with the Church.
I’m not saying that you can’t know what the teachings of the Church are, because they are very beautifully elaborated in the Catechism. It is a very instructive and nurturing document.
However, it doesn’t just come down to a checklist of beliefs, but faith in the fact that the Church was founded by Christ and is guided by the Holy Spirit.
When I came back to the Church, there was a teaching I had a hard time believing. But I got to the point where I was like, “You know, since the Church has so much right, maybe she knows more than I do about this particular subject. I’m going to assent now and trust that the agreement will come later.” It did.
God bless you on your journey!
OP here; let me see if I can clarify my question further. I know there are certain documents that are considered infallible. The Bible of course…is the CCC considered infallible? The writings of early church fathers (if so which ones), certain (or all) encyclicals, or other writings? I guess my question has its beginning in the fact that in many Protestant churches (including mine) our statement of faith is very basic (can fit on one page or less!) and each idividual has the freedom to believe what they want regarding other, less important issues, providing they have studied what scripture has to say on the matter. However, it appears to me that to be Catholic you must submit yourself to the church entirely. So, with that in mind, I’d like to know what exactly I’m submitting to before deciding if I want to convert. Many of the main teachings I’ve studied, but it seems I discover something new every day. So I’m just wondering if there is a list of documents or a handful of things that are deemed “required” for Catholic belief. I hope that clarifies a little!
Eta: please forgive if I have used the wrong terms. I hope you all can get at the heart of what I’m asking. Obviously I’m totally new to Catholic terminology.
Hi Jennifer! I think it’s great that you’re “peeking out from the shadows” of these forums.
I am currently in the process of converting to Catholicism, and I think it’s really hard to pin down all the beliefs in any sort of brief way. I saw several have suggested the Catechism, but it can be overwhelming to take on.
Here’s what I recommend if you are curious about the Catholic faith. Contact a local parish about RCIA; Receiving Christ in Adulthood. It’s very much the wrong time of year to join, though. Some parishes do year round RCIA, but most start in the fall. I’ve been in RCIA since early September, and I have learned so much! I cannot wait until Easter to be baptized and confirmed.
RCIA isn’t just for the unbaptized, though. There are a lot of protestants interested in converting in my group. I think you would benefit from RCIA because you’re led by a group of knowledgeable people who are truly there to help you in your journey. There is absolutely no obligation, you can walk away at any time. It’s a place where you can feel safe to ask any questions you have and get honest answers. I really think having a place to dialogue with someone is better than making a decision from a single piece of literature. It’s also nice because you get to know a group of people within the parish, which really helps you to feel like you’re part of the faith community and not just a nameless face at Mass every Sunday.
I hope you don’t mind if I pray for you that you find the answers you are seeking. Converting to Catholicism is a wonderful journey, but not easy! Keep posting and asking questions here, there are so many wonderful people on the forums to help you along your way. I sincerely hope you’ll reach out to an RCIA leader at a parish near you, even if you just have questions for now.
Another website you might look into is Catholics Come Home:
May God bless your day, Jennifer!
There really isn’t a short pamphlet. Being a former Protestant, the closest thing I found was actually the Pre-Vatican II profession of faith that converts made when entering the Church. This is an extract that basically covered areas where Protestants generally disagreed with the Catholic Church.
And with firm faith I believe and profess each and all the articles contained in the Apostles’ Creed, that is: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell, the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
I firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all the other constitutions and ordinances of the Church.
I admit the Sacred Scriptures in the sense which has been held and is still held by holy Mother Church, whose duty it is to judge the true sense and interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and I shall never accept or interpret them in a sense contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers.
I profess that the sacraments of the New Law are truly and precisely seven in number, instituted for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessary for each individual: baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. I profess that all confer grace, and that baptism, confirmation, and holy orders cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also accept and admit the ritual of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of all the aforementioned sacraments.
I accept and hold in each and every part all that has been defined and declared by the Sacred Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification. I profess that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, real, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is really, truly, and substantially present, and that there takes place in the Mass what the Church calls transubstantiation, which is the change of all the substance of bread into the body of Christ and of all substance of wine into His blood. I confess also that in receiving under either of these species one receives Jesus Christ whole and entire.
I firmly hold that Purgatory exists and that the souls detained there can be helped by the prayers of the faithful.
Likewise I hold that the saints, who reign with Jesus Christ, should be venerated and invoked, that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.
I firmly profess that the images of Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God, ever a Virgin, as well as of all the saints should be given due honor and veneration. I also affirm that Jesus Christ left to the Church the faculty to grant indulgences, and that their use is most salutary to the Christian people. I recognize the holy, Roman, Catholic, and apostolic Church as the mother and teacher of all the churches, and I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ.
Moreover, without hesitation I accept and profess all that has been handed down, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and by the general councils, especially by the Sacred Council of Trent and by the Vatican General Council, and in special manner all that concerns the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. At the same time I condemn and reprove all that the Church has condemned and reproved. This same Catholic faith, -]outside of which none can be saved/-], I now freely profess and I truly adhere to it. With the help of God, I promise and swear to maintain and profess this faith entirely, inviolately, and with firm constancy until the last breath of life. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and publicly professed by all who depend on me and over whom I shall have charge.
The strike through above is to denote a change since the second vatican council.
It doesn’t cover everything, but essentials that might be stumbling block for those that come from different Christian traditions. The main things it doesn’t cover are recent changes in society around the acceptance of homosexual unions, abortion, cotraception, and divorce which the Church rejects.
Interesting choice to strike through that line… Maybe the OP should just be told that Vatican II said it doesn’t matter??? There are subtleties that have been elaborated, but that hardly warrants a strike through.
OP - The Church has produced a number of catechisms throughout the ages. They are not infallible documents but express, by and large, infallible teachings. Does that make sense to you? They’re like lenses, and some are clearer or larger than others.
The Roman Catechism is a good follow up to the aforementioned CCC. The Baltimore Catechism is another good one.
If you are really a nerd then try Denzinger or Ott. They are anthologies of teaching documents of the Church, which again are not necessarily infallible but express infallible teachings.
***I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
I chose to strike through it principally to head off getting pelted by those that started throwing out parts of Unitatis Redintegatio or other statements on ecumenism to dispute that line. Personally I would love to see the older form returned because it more fully states what is rejected and embraced then the current formulation of “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” I am trying to walk the thin line of using the pre vatican ii form without getting yelled at by those who want to nitpick anything written before 1964.
same Catholic faith, -]outside of which none can be saved,/-]
Interesting choice to strike through that line… Maybe the OP should just be told that Vatican II said it doesn’t matter??? There are subtleties that have been elaborated, but that hardly warrants a strike through
Vatican II did NOT teach that “it doesn’t matter”.
Extra ecclesiam, nulla salus (literally, “outside the Church, there is no salvation”). Some people have wished to understand this saying in the most literal sense: that is, that the person who is not formally a practicing Catholic cannot be saved. The Church has condemned such an interpretation (cf. Denzinger-Schönmetzer, 3870-3873).
This is not to say that the maxim is false. Properly understood, it is quite true. The Latin word extra can mean either “without” or “outside.” The correct interpretation and sense of the maxim is that we cannot be saved without the Church. **It is through the Church, which carries on and makes present the salvific work of Jesus Christ in the world, that all who are saved reach heaven (even if it is perhaps only there that they realize it). **Those who, through no fault of their own, have never known Christ or his Church can still be saved. But their salvation, too, is the effect of Jesus working through his Church. In a positive sense, this theological principle “means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body” (CCC 846). [My emphasis]
Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine, OSV].
Vatican II, Lumen Gentium:
16. “Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.”
Abu - I have not found the sarcasm emoji yet. You are making my point. Apologies for the confusion…
I am non-denominational, but have thoughts of joining the Catholic church as well. I know there are things I am not comfortable with - praying to saints or Mary are big.
I have found there is a lot that is done in the church regularly, but is not required - but you wouldn’t know it unless you asked.
Had a chance to talk to a seminary student at our local parish and he showed me there is lots done in the church that’s not essential or necessary for salvation.
All said, the Eucharist is something that keeps drawing me.
While one is not required to have a devotion or offer intercessory prayers to saints, they are required to believe in the efficacy of those prayers. One cannot reject that intercessory prayers are valid even if they chose not to make use of that option.
A reticence to praying for the help of the Saints might also cause issues when one gets to the sacrament of reconciliation since praying the Hail Mary or the St Michael pray are not uncommon forms of penance I have been given in the past. I guess someone could always ask for a different penance, but it might make for an uncomfortable conversation if one were to say “Father, I don’t believe in praying to saints so can you give me something different?”
What I am getting at is one can feel uncomfortable with any certain type of prayer, but it cannot be simply rejected.
This is key. It really starts with a simple faith and a willingness to go where God leads us. God will supply the rest and will give us light when we need it.
People make to too complex. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is close to 1000 pages! Faith doesn’t have to be that hard.
Notice that I said faith, not theology. There is a difference between having simple faith and having a simplistic theology. We are called to have faith - to trust God. We are not called to be theologians. We are not called to try to understand God.
The comprehensive list of beliefs are called the dogmas of the Church. That is what all Christians must believe because these things were revealed to us by God through his Church. There are lots of lists of the dogmas out there. There are also the precepts of the Church.
These aren’t going to give anyone faith though. They don’t help you trust God - trust that if you endure to the end you will be rise from the dead.
The comprehensive list of beliefs are called the dogmas of the Church. That is what all Christians must believe because these things were revealed to us by God through his Church. There are lots of lists of the dogmas out there.
It is important to offer the teaching of the Church correctly. Dogmas are only part of the beliefs which cover both faith and morals.
The three levels of teaching from Ad Tuendam Fidem (ATF) are:
1) Dogma – infallible (Canon #750.1) to be believed with the assent of divine and Catholic faith.
2) Doctrine – infallible (Canon #750.2) requires the assent of ecclesial faith, to be “firmly embraced and held”.
3) Doctrine – non-definitive (non-infallible) and requires intellectual assent (“loyal submission of the will and intellect”, Vatican II, *Lumen Gentium 25), not an assent of faith. See the Explanatory Note on ATF by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at
Thus no dogma has to be affirmed, nor anyone anathematized, nor the word “define” or “definition” be used for an infallible papal teaching – only that the Pope is handing down a certain, decisive judgment for the whole Church, that a point of doctrine on faith or morals is true and its contrary false. The words ex cathedra are never included.
Don’t look at it as a comprehensive*** set ***of required beliefs. There isn’t really a list out there that will tell you every individual dogma and doctrine of the church. Rather, supernatural faith is a gift from God that allows to be completely dependent on Him and what he has revealed. It is a habitual, constant invitation to accept all that God’s will is. Someone can have the supernatural gift of faith but be mistaken about something of the faith. This is important to make note of first. Faith is not intellectual acceptance of historical events or theological explanations. Someone without “faith” can still believe – in that sense.
That being said, the Catholic Church teaches the Faith delivered from Christ and the Apostles in a variety of ways: through liturgy, prayers, creeds, decrees of popes and councils, catechisms, sermons, writings, etc.
To start, reflect deeply and think “Is God leading me to view the Catholic Church has his church founded 2,000 years ago, as his church that continues to leads souls to Christ?” If so, then you begin to see that Faith is total reliance and “submission” to God. You will begin to see that anything the Catholic Church has consistently taught is the guaranteed truth reflecting the Revelation of Christ.
You will not understand everything prior to becoming Catholic. Not even when you’re Catholic will you ever understand everything in the Faith. That’s what’s great about Christian teachings: There is always more to be developed, more connections to be made, more applications to figure out.