The Catechism of the Catholic Church was first promulgated by St. John Paul II 25 years ago, October 11, 1985. In honor of this silver anniversary, TJP would like to point out some surprising things about the Catechism. If you don’t own a copy, it can be found on the Vatican website. Check it out!
1. Renewing your driver’s license soon? The Church encourages organ donation: “Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity” CCC 2296
2. Think fake news is only a recent problem? The Catechism already condemns it: “Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice, and solidarity: The proper exercise of this right demands that the content be true – and within the limits set by justice and charity – complete.” CCC 2494
3. The Catechism says we can talk of the motherhood of God: “God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man.”
4. Thought lay people can’t administer sacraments? In the Roman Church, the ministers of the sacrament of marriage are the couple[Footnote 2. Anyone can baptize in emergencies as well, per CCC 1256]: “According to the Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ’s grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church.” CCC 1623
5. The Catechism has a whole article (CCC 1928-1948) on social justice: “Society ensures social justice by providing the conditions that allow associations and individuals to obtain their due.” CCC 1943
6. Feel like Catholicism is just a bunch of rules? Well, actually the Catechism is not a rule book. Less than a third of the book deals directly with the moral life (paragraphs 1749-2557, out of 2865 total paragraphs, by my back-of-the-envelope calculations).
7. Concerned about climate change and pollution? Care for creation is there, even before Laudato Si’: “Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.” CCC 2415
8. Isn’t faith opposed to science? Actually, the Catechism praises science for its contributions to truth: “[M]ethodological research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” CCC 159
9. God gave you your voice, let Him hear it! The Catechism encourages you to sing at Mass: “Song and music fulfill their function… according to three principal criteria: beauty expressive of prayer, the unanimous participation of the assembly at the designated moments, and the solemn character of the celebration.” CCC 1157
10. Lastly, our very own St. Ignatius of Loyola is quoted three times! All from his Spiritual Exercises:
- “Do not swear whether by the Creator, or any creature, except truthfully, of necessity, and with reverence” CCC 2164[Footnote 1. Annotations from the Catechism are generally referenced by “CCC” then the paragraph #], SE 38
- “Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try in all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved” CCC 2478, SE 22
- In contemplation, one “learns the ‘interior knowledge of our Lord,’ the more to love him and follow him” CCC 2725, SE 104