This question was posed to me and I answered in the negative. Was I right?
The Catechism is NOT written under the direct inspiration of God. (That is reserved only for Sacred Scripture). It does, however, contain the infallible fullness of Truth that is contained within Sacred Scripture.
The Gospel that Jesus taught was not divinely inspired.
The teaching that the Holy Spirit gave the apostles was not divinely inspired.
Inspiration refers to what was written.
The Gospel that Jesus taught was the word of God.
When the Holy Spirit taught the apostles “all things”, that was the word of God.
The Catechism is simply a summary of the Gospel that the apostles learned from Jesus. Thus, it’s teachings are the Word of God.
God’s word is handed down in two ways.
- That which He taught. (Tradition)
- That which He wrote. (Scripture)
That which He taught.
- In Jesus, God revealed everything. Jesus proclaimed the Gospel, the good news, that contains all God’s teachings.
He taught His apostles everything.
Since Jesus did not write scripture, but this Gospel contains all saving truth, then we say that all God’s teachings are handed down in Tradition. The apostles proclaimed this Gospel by proclaiming the initial proclamation, that Jesus came to free us from the slavery of sin, then by Catechesis, (an organized teaching of the whole faith). The summary of what they taught, of the entire Gospel, is summarized in the Catholic catechisms.
Catechisms simply present the Gospel, adapted to this age and time, that the apostles originally preached. Since these teachings of the Catechism come from God, they are the Word of God, and thus they are inerrant.
Scripture is what God wrote through men. It is primarily salvation history, although it does contain “certain of the many elements” handed down in Tradition. Thus, it does contain some teachings.
It also is the word of God, since it is inspired and comes from God directly.
Yes. The Catechism *itself *is not the Word of God like the Scriptures or like the infallible declarations of the extraordinary and ordinary Magisterium.
Instead, it is a collection of the Church’s teachings of faith and morals meant to make them accessible to the ‘ordinary’ Catholic and for pastors to teach. The Catechism–of which we must remember there have been multiple versions throughout our Church’s 2000-year history–is really an outline of the most pertinent highlights of Church teaching. There is a great depth and richness of the faith which may be found by reading the documents it cites and by learning, through theological study, of the development/exposition of Church doctrine over time.
There is no indication in the documents of JPII, which promulgated the new Cathechism 20 years after Vatican II, that the CCC’s authors believed themselves to be divinely inspired. Indeed, we believe that for the Holy Spirit to work in that way, either the college of cardinals must be gathered and speak with one voice (the ordinary Magisterium) or the pope must be speaking *ex cathedra *on matters of faith and morals (extraordinary Magisterium).
From Apostolic Letter Fidei Depositum, one of the opening documents of the new CCC:
“Very many have expressed the desire that a catechism or compendium of all catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composed, that it might be, as it were, a point of reference for the catechisms or compendiums that are prepared in various regions. The presentation of doctrine must be biblical and liturgical. It must be sound doctrine suited to the present life of Christians.” After the Synod ended, I made this desire my own, considering it as “fully responding to a real need of the universal Church and of the particular Churches.”
The project was the object of extensive consultation among all Catholic Bishops, their Episcopal Conferences or Synods, and of theological and catechetical institutes. As a whole, it received a broadly favorable acceptance on the part of the Episcopate. It can be said that this Catechism is the result of the collaboration of the whole Episcopate of the Catholic Church, who generously accepted my invitation to share responsibility for an enterprise which directly concerns the life of the Church. This response elicits in me a deep feeling of joy, because the harmony of so many voices truly expresses what could be called the “symphony” of the faith. The achievement of this Catechism thus reflects the collegial nature of the Episcopate; it testifies to the Church’s catholicity.
A catechism should faithfully and systematically present the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition in the Church and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers, Doctors, and saints of the Church, to allow for a better knowledge of the Christian mystery and for enlivening the faith of the People of God. It should take into account the doctrinal statements which down the centuries the Holy Spirit has intimated to his Church. It should also help to illumine with the light of faith the new situations and problems which had not yet emerged in the past.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved June 25th last and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion. May it serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the Kingdom!
The Catechism was not inspired. Only Scripture is inspired.
Inspired only refers to what is written.
But the Word of God is NOT limited to what is inspired.
In the same way the Gospel that Jesus taught was not inspired, since Jesus did not write this Gospel.
But, since it came from Jesus, this Gospel He taught is the WORD OF GOD.
The apostles learned this Gospel from Jesus and taught it to their followers. Thus, this Gospel they taught was the WORD OF GOD.
The catechism is simply the teachings of the apostles put in written form. Since these teachings of the apostles came from Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then these teachings of the Catechism are the WORD OF GOD.
Since they are the Word of God, then they are without error.