New United States Catechism
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced the production of its first official catechism since the Baltimore Catechism of 1885. The new publication, entitled the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, arrives on the coattails of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was published according to a Motu Proprio by Pope Benedict XVI.
Unlike the Baltimore Catechism, the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults will not be in question and answer format, making it more amenable to adult study in contexts such as RCIA, catechesis and personal enrichment. The new American catechism is derived from the official Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1992.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC was chairman of the five-bishop oversight board that had been working on the production of the new catechism since 2000. Each of the 36 chapters begins with a brief biography of a biblical figure, saint or exemplary Catholic from the United States.
What advantage will this catechism have over the official Catechism of the Catholic Church besides the inclusion of bios on prominent American Catholics? Does this new catechism fulfill a genuine need in American catechesis? Is there indeed room for local catechisms after the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium? Questions to be answered at another time.
The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults will be published on July 31, 2006. It will be available for purchase from the USCCB website. Once I have acquired a copy, I will post comments on its content, layout and efficiency.