Pre-Vatican II Catechism?

Hi TC’s,

I’m sorry if this seems like a silly question, but here goes.

I’m a non-Catholic investigating the faith, and I went to a church bookshop today and saw the Catechism by John Paul II.

Later on in another bookstore (secular), I saw the McInereney’s book “What went wrong with Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained” and I flicked through it.

Apparently Vatican II interpreted alot of things differently, and there was some corruption of Pius XII or something like that? (sorry didn’t have much time)

So anyway I got thinking, if Vatican II interpreted things differently, does that mean the Cathechism today would be rejected by TC’s, and that they must stick to a pre-Vatican II catechism which I assume is out of print now?


Well, the REAL pre-Vatican II Catechism is the Catechism of Trent, also called the Roman Catechism, which is very similar to the CCC (the CCC actually references the Catechism of Trent a lot). Many people will point you to the Baltimore Catechism, but that was merely a local teaching aid for children, not a comprehensive and mature exploration of the Faith. While the BC is not erroneous, it’s not very detailed and leaves many nuances unexplored, so I can’t recommend it for an adult who’s investigating the Faith.

The Roman Catechism is still in print, so far as I know, though it’s been superceded by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You can find it available for free online, in pdf format here (, and in html format here (

Hope that helps!

does that mean the Cathechism today would be rejected by TC’s, and that they must stick to a pre-Vatican II catechism which I assume is out of print now?

It really depends on who you talk to. I have some traditionalist friends who are fine with the CCC and some who aren’t.

McInerny argues that

. . .public and sustained rejection of the Magisterium and of this clear teaching of Vatican II - largely by dissenting theologians - has caused and sustained the crisis in the Church.

The problem, according to McInerny isn’t Vatican II.

Everyone always forgets the Catechism of Pius X!

“The Catechism of the Council of Trent was directed to all priests. The recently released Catechism of the Catholic Church was directed to all bishops. The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X is that pope’s partial realization of a simple, plain, brief, popular Catechism for uniform use throughout the whole world. In other words it is directed to the layman.”

It can be found here online:

That being said, the most recent CCC is the most comprehensive Catechism out there.

Hi Rev- I agree with Vincent’s citation above and while Bear’s post points to less than unanimous agreement, the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church is a reliable explanation of the faith and the Church for everyone including *all *Catholics. Here is Pope John Paul II from the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, written at the publication of the Catechism:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved 25 June 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 Church, which is preserved from errors of faith by the Holy Spirit, teaches that fuller understanding of that faith increases over time. That is why one official catechism does not negate another but rather contributes to the fuller exposition of the faith. Again, Pope John Paul II from Fidei Depositum:

This catechism is given…that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms. It is also offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation (cf. *Eph *3:8). It is meant to support ecumenical efforts that are moved by the holy desire for the unity of all Christians, showing carefully the content and wondrous harmony of the catholic faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, lastly, is offered to every individual who asks us to give an account of the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15) and who wants to know what the Catholic Church believes.

…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.

From the latest catechism:

93 “By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium),. . . receives. . . the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. . . The People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life.”

94 Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church:

  • “through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts”; it is in particular “theological research [which] deepens knowledge of revealed truth”.
  • “from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience”, the sacred Scriptures “grow with the one who reads them.”
  • “from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth”.

For someone like yourself, beginning an exploration of Catholicism, a great place to start might be with the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This 200 page book gives a synopsis of the faith through short answers to nearly 600 questions and serves as an introduction to further study in the Catechism itself. Amazon listing

The Catechism is online here:

May God bless and make fruitful your searching. :slight_smile:

I too highly recommend the Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as the new Catechism itself.
I also highly recommend
by Father Connell. You can get it at

Jaypeeto3 (aka Jaypeeto4)

How decidedly ultramontanist of you, Ghosty. Your inner-Latin seems to have fully triumphed over the Oriental in you.:stuck_out_tongue:

While the papally promulgated catechisms (from two Piis and a John Paul) carry the added weight of the ordinary papal magisterium, I think we could easily find find periods and regions in which they were far from the dominant catechism of which laymen made use. I doubt St. Peter Canisius, Doctor and Confessor, would take kindly to your characterization.:smiley: And his approbation as doctor by Pope Pius XI brings his teaching somewhat implicitly onto a level near the papal catechisms. At the end of the day, all the catechisms we have so far rely on their conformity to the previous Magisterium for their ultimate authority.

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