IN WHICH THE LATIN TYPICAL EDITION OF THE
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
IS APPROVED AND PROMULGATED
JOHN PAUL, BISHOP
SERVANT OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD
To my Venerable Brothers the cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops,
Priests, Deacons, and to all the People of God.
IT IS A CAUSE FOR GREAT JOY THAT THE LATIN TYPICAL EDITION OF THE
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS BEING PUBLISHED. It is approved and
promulgated by me in this Apostolic Letter and thus becomes the definitive text
of the aforementioned Catechism. This is occurring about five years after
Constitution Fidei Depositum of October 11, 1992, which, on the 30th
anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, accompanied the
publication of the first, French-language text of the Catechism.
We have all been able to note with pleasure the broad positive reception and
wide dissemination of the Catechism in these years, especially in the particular
Churches, which have had it translated into their respective languages, thus
making it as accessible as possible to the various linguistic communities of the
world. This fact confirms how fitting was the request submitted to me in 1985 by
the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that a catechism or
compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding faith and morals be composed.
Drawn up by the special Commission of Cardinals and Bishops established in
1986, the Catechism was approved and promulgated by me in the
Constitution, which today retains all its validity and timeliness, and finds
its definitive achievement in this Latin typical edition.
This edition was prepared by an Interdicasterial Commission which I
appointed for this purpose in 1993. Presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,
this Commission worked diligently to fulfill the mandate it received. It devoted
particular attention to a study of the many suggested changes to the contents of
the text, which in these years had come from around the world and from various
parts of the ecclesial community.
In this regard one can certainly understand that such a remarkable number of
suggested improvements shows the extraordinary interest that the
Catechism has raised throughout the world, even among non-Christians, and
confirms its purpose of being presented as a full, complete exposition of
Catholic doctrine, enabling everyone to know what the Church professes,
celebrates, lives, and prays in her daily life. At the same time it draws
attention to the eager desire of all to make their contribution so that the
Christian faith, whose essential and necessary elements are summarized in the
Catechism, can be presented to the people of our day in the most suitable
way possible. Furthermore, this collaboration of the various members of the
Church will once again achieve what I wrote Apostolic
Constitution Fidei Depositum"The harmony of so many voices truly
expresses what could be called the 'symphony' of the faith" (no. 2).
For these reasons too, the Commission seriously considered the suggestions
offered, carefully examined them at various levels and submitted its conclusions
for my approval. These conclusions, insofar as they allow for a better
expression of the Catechism's contents regarding the deposit of the
Catholic faith, or enable certain truths of this faith to be formulated in a way
more suited to the requirements of contemporary catechetical instruction, have
been approved by me and thus have been incorporated into this Latin typical
edition. Therefore it faithfully repeats the doctrinal content which I
officially presented to the Church and to the world in December 1992.
With today's promulgation of the Latin typical edition, therefore, the task
of composing the Catechism, begun in 1986, is brought to a close and the
desire of the aforementioned Extraordinary Synod of Bishops is happily
fulfilled. The Church now has at her disposal this new, authoritative exposition
of the one and perennial apostolic faith, and it will serve as a "valid and
legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" and as a "sure norm for teaching
the faith," as well as a "sure and authentic reference text" for preparing local
Constitution Fidei Depositum, no. 4).
Catechesis will find in this genuine, systematic presentation of the faith
and of Catholic doctrine a totally reliable way to present, with renewed fervor,
each and every part of the Christian message to the people of our time. This
text will provide every catechist with sound help for communicating the one,
perennial deposit of faith within the local Church, while seeking, with the help
of the Holy Spirit, to link the wondrous unity of the Christian mystery with the
varied needs and conditions of those to whom this message is addressed. All
catechetical activity will be able to experience a new, widespread impetus among
the People of God, if it can properly use and appreciate this post-conciliar
All this seems even more important today with the approach of the third
millennium. For an extraordinary commitment to evangelization is urgently needed
so that everyone can know and receive the Gospel message and thus grow "to the
measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:13).
I therefore strongly urge my Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, for whom
the Catechism is primarily intended, to take the excellent opportunity
afforded by the promulgation of this Latin edition to intensify their efforts to
disseminate the text more widely and to ensure that it is well received as an
outstanding gift for the communities entrusted to them, which will thus be able
to rediscover the inexhaustible riches of the faith.
Through the harmonious and complementary efforts of all the ranks of the
People of God, may this Catechism be known and shared by everyone, so
that the unity in faith whose supreme model and origin is found in the Unity of
the Trinity may be strengthened and extended to the ends of the earth.
To Mary, Mother of Christ, whose Assumption body and soul into heaven we
celebrate today, I entrust these wishes so that they may be brought to
fulfillment for the spiritual good of all humanity.
From Castel Gandolfo, August 15, 1997, the nineteenth year of the
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