Use of Baltimore Catechism


I know the use of the Baltimore Catechism isn’t common these days - but is there really anything that would “forbid” the use of it? And if not - why the “outrage” when someone does decide to use it in teaching children?



The Baltimore Catechism has never been forbidden to use by the Church. It’s an excellent resource that clearly explains the faith. However, since the Second Vatican Council, certain disciplines have changed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the most up-to-date catechism available.

The “outrage” some people show towards the Baltimore Catechism is the same “outrage” shown to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It mostly comes from people who aren’t orthodox and want to teach error in the name of the Church.

We use the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism for our CCD program. It works very well. I would continue to use the Baltimore Catechism if I were you. It teaches the eternal truths of our faith.


The Baltimore Catechism is very good. It’s incredibly clear and concise, easy to memorize, and the St. Joseph edition has pictures! I know when I saw little Johnny carrying those boxes out of the confessional with “sacrilege” on top, I was convinced. :smiley:

The only thing to be careful of, perhaps, is some editions might have the older Mass prayers and things. Of course, you could always just go to a Mass according to the older missal.


Thanks for the resonses. I think my questions are really deeper - i.e. - why would people be upset that something that teaches the basics of the faith is used whether it was written in 2007, 1990, 1965, 1440 or 1776? I mean - prayers used in mass aside - if it teaches the basics of the faith, it teaches the basics of the faith - right? Perhaps those that oppose its use feel the theology/dogma found within has changed?

Thanks -
New Catholic


The Baltimore Catechism can be found online. I have used it for very concise stright forward answers to questions. For the most part they are just as valid today as they were when the book was written. Very little has changed. I really believe that there are a significant number of folks out there who call themselves Catholic, but for one reason or another want to believe that every thing was/is up for change. They want to be free of moral strictures and obligations that stirs the old voice of consciense(sp?). Better to not be reminded you understand. The answers given do not include a great deal of information but are correct and can lead one to further study for more detail and explanation.


While the Baltimore Catechism (note there are several revisions around) teaches doctrine correctly as does the CCC, the CCC explains things a little more accurately since some things are better explained now than in the years the Baltimore Catechism was the sole source.

I don’t have a book handy, but from what I recall one example is the Church teaching on Salvation, which has not changed. However, the Baltimore Catechism explains it more bluntly in a way that was not understood to mean what it does today. It said I believe that “outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation”, and was interpreted as meaning that literally. Today, the Church teaches the same thing but what it means is all salvation worldwide is through Jesus Christ, who created the graces of salvation through the Catholic Church. So while someone outside the religion of Catholicism MAY be saved, it will be through Jesus Christ whether they realize it or not. It goes on to explain that if people outside the actual religion of Catholicism respond to the graces God gave them, have not rejected Christ or the Church knowingly, etc…

So you can see the theology is more developed and better understood than it was back then, and only knowing the short answer may in fact lead to misunderstandings about our faith (as there are older people today that believe that if you are not Catholic you are surely damned to hell, which is NOT what our Church teaches).

There are other examples too. That would be the only detriment to using the Baltimore Catechism IMHO.


Those who would be outraged at the use of the Baltimore Catechism probably feel that “everything changed with Vatican II”. They see the use of the old catechism as a threat to the liberty they perceive themselves to have now. These are probably also the people who don’t have/read the current Catechism too.

PS. I cited the Baltimore Catechism in an English/Philosophy essay I wrote this year :smiley:


Here’s a kinda funny story:

The lady in charge of Catechism classes at our parish is an older lady, she was a religious sister, then was “asked to leave” (who knows what for, I’ve never asked…), and is a product of the 60’s. She’s definitely a “liberal” in that she enjoys [most] of Vatican II.

One day we were talking about this and that relating to catechizing adults and children, and she said “you know what - I don’t know why they ever re-wrote the Catechism - the Baltimore Catechism is perfect, and I still use that for the kids to this day! It’s such a good, easy, simple read, compared to the VOLUMES that have been produced since Vatican II…I swear, the bishops did a lot of good with Vatican II, but some stuff they just BLAH!!! produced like a bunch of bureaucrats!”

I thought, hey if she’s using the Baltimore Catechism then EVERYBODY must be using…come to find out, she’s not that “liberal” after all, after meeting some of these weak-minded Catholics that America has produced over the last 40 years…

Anyway, use the Baltimore Catechism, embrace it - it is a wonderful document in it’s simpleness, a gem for the ages.


Jimmy Akin has a page with all the major Catechisms online for free:


The Baltimore Catechism is in a question and answer format. Personally I do not think it explains as well as the full CCC and I don’t find the CCC hard to read. However, if folks find the question and answer format easier to follow then why not use the new Compendium of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church.


No there is nothing wrong with using it or any other older document of the Church as long as one also remembers to cite and use the current documents. Of course children will not have easy access to the CCC but hand out material going to parents must have CCC references, because that is what they most likely will have access to.


That is why we need Adult Faith Formation, because many think that some doctrines and dogmas have changed.


I like the one written by St. Peter Canisius ([FONT=Arial]A summe of Christian doctrine; [/FONT]post-Trent version with appendices on the Fall, Justification, and Indulgences) :slight_smile: . The only bad thing is mine is translated into a kind of olde english (you know, where the letter “s” looks like an “f”) Here’s what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about it:

“Taking as his foundation Ecclus., i, 33, he divides his treatment into two great parts: wisdom and justice. In the first he deals with Faith (the Creed), Hope (the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary), Charity (the Commandments). In the second he deals with avoiding evil (sin and the remission of sin) and doing good (prayer, fasting and almsdeeds, the cardinal virtues, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Ghost, the beatitudes, the evangelical counsels, and the Four Last Things). To obtain and to preserve both wisdom and justice the sacraments are necessary, and hence he places the treatment of the sacraments between the two parts. After the Council of Trent (1563) Canisius added a chapter on the Fall and Justification. The form of the three books is that of questions and answers, some of the latter being as long as four or five pages. In striking contrast to the Protestant catechisms, the tone throughout is calm, and there is an absence of controversial bitterness. The success of Canisius’ catechisms was enormous. They were translated into every language in Europe, and were reprinted in many hundreds of editions, so that the name Canisius came to be synonymous with Catechism (Bareille, op. cit., p. 61).”


The Baltimore Catechism is in a rote memorization format. It’s good for the basics, but at some point faith must develop to a deeper level.

Those who find it offensive are the same people who got rid of memorizing multiplication tables in 3rd grade math and went to “new math” that was all exploratory, experiential, and “relevant”. Ugh!

One who has memorized the multiplication tables by rote can still learn all the deeper, complex theories of mathematics just fine. Same holds true for those who memorized the Baltimore Catechism-- they are capable of learning the deeper levels of the faith.

The problem is, some people never got past the 3rd grade memorization part of the Catechism, making them ill-prepared to meet the challenges to their faith brought about by non-Catholics, the culture shift in the 1960s, etc.


I praise the Baltimore Catechism. As a grammar (elementary) school student, we memorized the Catechism word for word, and as little kids, we did not protest. Rote memory has much to recommend it and that was how it was. But I dare say that cradle Catholics raised during that time are more faithful to the tenets of the Church because they are spelled out in such a way as to leave no margin for personal interpretation. What was wrong then is still wrong now. And you can’t say you didn’t know.


The Baltimore Catechism and the CCC serve two different purposes.

The BC was never meant to be used as an in-depth description of our Faith, and the CCC was not meant to be a learning aid for children.

So it’s best to use both as they were meant. Teach young children from the BC and teach High School and beyond out of the CCC.

But my kids use the BC as their primary religious textbook and it remains a wonderful resource in that role.


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