WASHINGTON (February 6, 2006) — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that the new Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a 200-page synthesis of the 1992 Catechism, will be available starting March 31, 2006. It will be published exclusively by USCCB Publishing, the publishing office of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
USCCB Publishing will launch the Compendium in English and Spanish at the 2006 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, an annual gathering of over 30,000 parish and diocesan leaders in religious education, adult faith formation, liturgy, and youth ministry. The paperback version will be available first with the hardcover to follow shortly after.
"The Compendium . . . is a faithful and sure synthesis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church," Pope Benedict XVI said. "It contains, in concise form, all the essential and fundamental elements of the Church's faith."
The Compendium consists of 598 questions and answers, echoing to some degree the format of the very popular "Baltimore Catechism" which was a standard text in many Catholic parishes and schools from 1885 to the 1960s. When asked about possible uses of the Compendium, Msgr. Daniel Kutys, USCCB Deputy Secretary for Catechesis, noted that "since the Compendium was proposed and developed for the purpose of catechizing teens and young adults, the bishops on the Catechism Committee have recommended that the text be used as a standard reference companion to which teachers and catechists refer their students in much the same way that they use Bibles for instruction. It is not meant to replace religion textbooks, but to augment and compliment them."
The Compendium is structured in four parts, much like the widely-used Catechism of the Catholic Church. While the text does contain some direct quotes from the Catechism used in a sidebar fashion, the questions and answers themselves are original text. The Holy Father expressed the hope that abbreviating the text and reducing it to the essential "might favor the assimilation and possible memorization of the contents."
In addition to the questions and answers, the Compendium also includes two appendices. The first is a list of Catholic Prayers including the Our Father and Hail Mary in English or Spanish, side-by-side with the Latin version of the prayers. The second appendix contains "Formulas of Catholic Doctrine" including the Ten Commandments, Beatitudes, theological and cardinal virtues, and spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
The fourteen images taken from masterpieces of Christian art scattered throughout provide an additional source for reflection and catechesis for each part or section. "The sacred images, with their beauty, are also a proclamation of the Gospel and express the splendor of the Catholic truth," Pope Benedict said.
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is available for order by visiting the Internet site at www.usccbpublishing.org or calling USCCB Publishing at 800-235-8722. The Compendium will be available in English and Spanish and in paperback (publication number: English—5-720; Spanish—5-920; list price of $14.95) and hardcover (publication number English—5-725; Spanish—5-921; list price of $24.95).