On October 11, 1992, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, John Paul II signed the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, with which he presented the new Catechism of the Catholic Church to the clergy and “to all the members of the People of God”.
A brave enterprise
John Paul II had entrusted its preparation in 1986 to a Commission of 12 cardinals and bishops, chaired by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, following the extraordinary Synod of Bishops of 1985 convened by the pope for the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of the Council. In the final report of the Synod we read: “A large number of bishops have expressed the desire that a catechism or a compendium of the whole Catholic doctrine of faith and morals should be compiled, which would be a point of reference for the catechisms or collections necessary for the different regions. It must express sound doctrine for the daily life of Christians today. The request was approved by 146 bishops out of 155 present.
After the Council of Trent, Roman Catechism had brought together in a large and organic text a presentation of Catholic doctrine so that, in carrying out the reform of the Church desired by this Council, pastors would have a clear common reference for their teaching. Likewise, after the work of Vatican II, with the publication of its many documents and the lively discussion of their interpretation, a “great number of bishops” felt the need for a new text. understanding for the presentation of the Christian faith. faith, consistent with the Council and attentive to the situation of Christians and the Church in the world today.
It was a very difficult undertaking. Important experiences had not been lacking, such as the famous Dutch Catechism and other catechisms published by various episcopal conferences, but it has been observed that they “were above all concerned with examining the anthropological and sociological points of view and the mode of transmission, so that they almost ended up losing the teachings to convey along the way.” It was therefore necessary to try to write a text to express “what faith proposes to our belief” and which would be valid for the whole Church, that is to say would express what is common to the faith of Catholics, in order to serve the unity of their universal communion, beyond local differences and particular situations.