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Prologue

9

The Council of Trent initiated a remarkable organization of the Church’s

catechesis. Thanks to the work of holy bishops and theologians such as St.

Peter Canisius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo, or St.

Robert Bellarmine, it occasioned the publication of numerous

catechisms.

10

It is therefore no surprise that catechesis in the Church has again

attracted attention in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which Pope

Paul VI considered the great catechism of modern times. The General

Catechetical Directory (1971), the sessions of the Synod of Bishops devoted

to evangelization (1974) and catechesis (1977), the apostolic exhortations

Evangelii nuntiandi

(1975) and

Catechesi tradendae

(1979) attest to this. The

Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 asked “that a catechism or com-

pendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be

composed.”

13

The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, made the Synod’s wish

his own, acknowledging that “this desire wholly corresponds to a real

need of the universal Church and of the particular Churches.”

14

He set in

motion everything needed to carry out the Synod Fathers’ wish.

III.

T

he

A

im and

I

ntended

R

eadership of

T

his

C

atechism

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 com-

posed in the various countries.”

15

12

This work is intended primarily for those responsible for

catechesis: first of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pas-

tors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfill-

ing 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 Chris-

tian faithful.

IV.

S

tructure of

T

his

C

atechism

13

The plan of this catechism is inspired by the great tradition

of catechisms which build catechesis on four pillars: the baptismal

profession of faith (the

Creed

), the sacraments of faith, the life of

13 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985,

Final Report,

II B a, 4.

14 John Paul II, Discourse at the Closing of the Extraordinary Synod of

Bishops, December 7, 1985: AAS 78 (1986).

15 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985,

Final Report

II B a, 4.