The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

21 Nov 2012

With his Apostolic Letter Porta fideo of 11 October 2011, Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of Faith. The Year of Faith began on 11 October 2012 and it will conclude on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Universal King.

The aim of the Year of Faith is to focus the attention of the Church on the theme which, since the beginning of Pope Benedict’s pontificate, has been closest to his heart and that is: the encounter with Jesus Christ and the beauty of having faith in Him.

The beginning of the Year of Faith coincides with the anniversaries of two great events:

(i) the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, called by Pope John XXIII (11 October 1962)

(ii) the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, given to the Church by Blessed Pope John Paul II (11 October 1992).

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prepared a Note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith and in the note attention and focus is placed on the importance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Note says:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in this same vein, is both an “authentic fruit of Vatican Council II”[7] and a tool for aiding in its reception. The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops of 1985, convoked on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council and to measure its reception, suggested the preparation of a Catechism in order to offer the People of God a compendium of all Catholic doctrine and a sure point of reference for local catechisms. Pope John Paul II accepted this proposal as a desire which “fully responds to a real need of the universal Church and of the particular Churches.”[8] Compiled in collaboration with the entire Episcopate of the Catholic Church, this Catechism “truly expresses what could be called the symphony of the faith.”[9]

The Catechism includes “the new and the old (cfr. Mt 13:52), because the faith is always the same yet the source of ever new light. To respond to this twofold demand, the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the one hand repeats the old, traditional order already followed by the Catechism of St Pius V, arranging the material in four parts: the Creed, the Sacred Liturgy, with pride of place given to the sacraments, the Christian way of life, explained beginning with the Ten Commandments, and finally, Christian prayer. At the same time, however, the contents are often expressed in a new way in order to respond to the questions of our age.”[10] This Catechism is “a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith.”[11]The content of faith finds “ its systematic and organic synthesis in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Here, in fact, we see the wealth of teaching that the Church has received, safeguarded and proposed in her two thousand years of history. From Sacred Scripture to the Fathers of the Church, from theological masters to the saints across the centuries, the Catechism provides a permanent record of the many ways in which the Church has meditated on the faith and made progress in doctrine so as to offer certitude to believers in their lives of faith.”[12]

Speaking at the beginning of the Year of Faith Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland said:

” The Year of Faith presents us the unique opportunity to return to that Council and to study, read or re-read its sixteen documents in its Constitutions, Decrees and Declarations.  Pope Benedict has remarked that these texts, using the words of his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, ‘have lost nothing of their value or brilliance’.  Indeed we may discover that much remains to be done.

“It is also the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Churchand the Catechism too offers us a unique opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with the power and beauty of our faith.

“May we all, during this Year of Faith, take the opportunity to gain a new understanding and renewal of that faith.  May it contribute to a renewed conversion to Jesus the Lord.”

With the focus firmly on the Catechism of the Catholic Church during this Year Of Faith the Irish Bishops’ Conference is creating an audio version of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Explaining the Compendium Pope Benedict said: “The Compendium is a faithful and sure synthesis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It contains, in concise form, all the essential and fundamental elements of the Church’s faith….”

The Compendium text will be recorded and made available in stages during the Year of Faith. The first recordings will go online shortly.

The project is making use of Audioboo, an audioblog service which will allow difference voices to record sections of the Compendium of the Catechism and for these to be uploaded to the following link:

Queries in relation to the Audioboo project should be referred to the Catholic Communications Office on 01 505 3013