Contact Us

Compendium of the Catechism (2005)

30 January, 2005

This Compendium, presented by Pope Benedict XVI, is a synthesis of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. It contains, in concise form, all the essential and fundamental elements of the Church’s faith … In structure, contents and language, the Compendium faithfully reflects The Catechism of the Catholic Church and will thus assist in making the Catechism more widely known and more deeply understood.





SECTION ONE: ‘I believe’ – ‘We Believe’ 
Chapter One: Man’s Capacity for God
Chapter Two: God Comes to Meet Man
The Revelation of God
The Transmission of Divine Revelation
Sacred Scripture
Chapter Three: Man’s Response to God
I Believe
We Believe

Section Two: The Profession of the Christian Faith
Chapter One: I Believe in God the Father
The Symbols of Faith
‘I Believe in God the Father Almighty’
‘Creator of Heaven and Earth’
Heaven and Earth
The Fall
Chapter Two: I Believe in Jesus Christ the Only Son of God
‘And in Jesus Christ, His Only Son Our Lord’
‘Jesus Christ was Conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit
‘and Was Born of the Virgin Mary’ ‘
‘Jesus Christ Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was Crucificed, Died and was Buried’
‘Jesus Christ Descended into Hell; on the Third Day He Rose Again from the Dead’
‘Jesus Ascended into Heaven and Is Seated at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty’
‘From Thence He Shall Come to Judge the Living and the Dead’
Chapter Three: I Believe in the Holy Spirit
‘I Believe in the Holy Spirit’
‘I Believe in the Holy Catholic Church’
          The Church in the Plan of God
The Church: People of God, Body of Christ,
Temple of the Spirit
The Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic
The Faithful: Hierarchy, Laity, Consecrated Life
I Believe in the Communion of Saints
Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church

‘I Believe in the Forgiveness of Sins’
‘I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body’
‘I Believe in Life Everlasting’


Section One: The Sacramental Economy
Chapter One: The Paschal Mystery in the Age of the Church
The Liturgy – Work of the Most Holy Trinity
The Paschal Mystery in the Sacraments of the Church
Chapter Two: The Sacramental Celebration of the Paschal Mystery
Celebrating the Liturgy of the Church
             Who Celebrates?
How is the Liturgy Celebrated?
When is the Liturgy Celebrated?
Where is the Liturgy Celebrated?
      Liturgical Diversity and the Unity of Mystery

Section Two: The Seven Sacraments of the Church
Chapter One: The Sacraments of Christian Initiation
The Sacrament of Baptism
The Sacrament of Confirmation The Sacrament of the Eucharist
Chapter Two: The Sacraments of Healing
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick
Chapter Three: The Sacraments at the Service of Communion and Mission
The Sacrament of Holy Orders
The Sacrament of Matrimony
Chapter Four: Other Liturgical Celebrations
The Sacramentals
Christian Funerals


Section One: Man’s Vocation in the Spirit
Chapter One: The Dignity of the Human Person
      Man the Image of God
Our Vocation to Beatitude
Man’s Freedom
The Morality of the Passions
The Moral Conscience
The Virtues
Chapter Two: The Human Community
The Person and Society
Participation in Social Life
Social Justice
Chapter Three: God’s Salvation: Law and Grace
The Moral Law
Grace and Justification
The Church Mother and Teacher

Section Two: The Ten Comandments
Chapter One: ‘You Shall Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart, with All Your Soul and with All Your Mind’
The First Commandment: I Am the Lord Your God, You Shall Not Have Other Gods Before Me
The Second Commandment: You Shall Not Take the Name of the Lord Your God in Vain
The Third Commandment: Remember to Keep Holy the Lord’s Day
Chapter Two: ‘You Shall Love Your Neighbour as Yourself’
      The Fourth Commandment: Honour Your Father and Your Mother
The Fifth Commandment: You Shall Not Kill
The Sixth Commandment: You Shall Not Commit Adultery
The Seventh Commandment: You Shall Not Steal
The Eighth Commandment: You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbour
The Ninth Commandment: You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbour’s Wife
The Tenth Commandment: You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbour’s Possessions


Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
Chapter One: The Revelation of Prayer
The Revelation of Prayer in the Old Testament
Prayer is Fully Revealed and Realised in Jesus
Prayer in the Age of the Church
Chapter Two: The Tradition of Prayer
At the Wellsprings of Prayer
The Way of Prayer
Guides for Prayer
Chapter Three: The Life of Prayer
Expressions of Prayer
The Battle of Prayer

Section Two The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father
‘The Summary of the Whole Gospel’
‘Our Father Who Art in Heaven’
The Seven Petitions

A. Common Prayers
B. Formulas of Catholic Doctrine


159 pp. Veritas 2005. To purchase this book online, go to www.veritas.ie .


‘You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised […] You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.’ (Saint Augustine)

2. Why does man have a desire for God?
God himself, in creating man in his own image, has written upon his heart the desire to see him. Even if this desire is often ignored, God never ceases to draw man to himself because only in God will he find and live the fullness of truth and happiness for which he never stops searching. By nature and by vocation, therefore, man is a religious being, capable of entering into communion with God. This intimate and vital bond with God confers on man his fundamental dignity.

3. How is it possible to know God with only the light of human reason?
Starting from creation, that is from the world and from the human person, through reason alone one can know God with certainty as the origin and end of the universe, as the highest good and as infinite truth and beauty.

4. Is the light of reason alone sufficient to know the mystery of God?
In coming to a knowledge of God by the light of reason alone man experiences many difficulties. Indeed, on his own he is unable to enter into the intimacy of the divine mystery. This is why he stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.

5. How can we speak about God?
By taking as our starting point the perfections of man and of the other creatures which are a reflection, albeit a limited one, of the infinite perfection of God, we are able to speak about God with all people. We must, however, continually purify our language insofar as it is image-bound and imperfect, realising that we can never fully express the infinite mystery of God.



6. What does God reveal to man?
God in his goodness and wisdom reveals himself. With deeds and words, he reveals himself and his plan of loving goodness which he decreed from all eternity in Christ. According to this plan, all people by the grace of the Holy Spirit are to share in the divine life as adopted’ sons’ in the only begotten Son of God.

7. What are the first stages of God’s Revelation?
From the very beginning, God manifested himself to our first parents, Adam and Eve, and invited them to intimate communion with himself. After their fall, he did not cease his revelation to them but promised salvation for all their descendants. After the flood, he made a covenant with Noah, a covenant between himself and all living beings.

8. What are the next stages of God’s Revelation?
God chose Abram, calling him out of his country, making him ‘the father of a multitude of nations’ (Genesis 17:5), and promising to bless in him ‘all the nations of the earth’ (Genesis 12:3). The people descended from Abraham would be the trustee of the divine promise made to the patriarchs. God formed Israel as his chosen people, freeing them from slavery in Egypt, establishing with them the covenant of Mount Sinai, and, through Moses, giving them his law. The prophets proclaimed a radical redemption of the people and a salvation which would include all nations in a new and everlasting covenant. From the people of Israel and from the house of King David, would be born the Messiah, Jesus.

9. What is the full and definitive stage of God’s Revelation?
The full and definitive stage of God’s revelation is accomplished in his Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, the mediator and fullness of Revelation. He, being the only-begotten Son of God made man, is the perfect and definitive Word of the Father. In the sending of the Son and the gift of the Spirit, Revelation is now fully complete, although the faith of the Church must gradually grasp its full significance over the course of centuries.

In giving us his Son, his only and definitive Word, God spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word, and he has no more to say. (Saint John of the Cross)

10. What is the value of private revelations?
While not belonging to the deposit of faith, private revelations may help a person to live the faith as long as they lead us to Christ. The Magisterium of the Church, which has the duty of evaluating such private revelations, cannot accept those which claim to surpass or correct that definitive Revelation which is Christ.


11. Why and in what way is divine revelation transmitted?
God ‘desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2:4), that is, of Jesus Christ. For this reason, Christ must be proclaimed to all according to his own command, ‘Go forth and teach all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). And this is brought about by Apostolic Tradition.

12. What is Apostolic Tradition?
Apostolic Tradition is the transmission of the message of Christ, brought about from the very beginnings of Christianity by means of preaching, bearing witness, institutions, worship and inspired writings. The apostles transmitted all they received from Christ and learned from the Holy Spirit to their successors, the bishops, and through them to all generations until the end of the world.

13. In what ways does Apostolic Tradition occur?
Apostolic Tradition occurs in two ways: through the living transmission of the word of God (also simply called Tradition) and through Sacred Scripture which is the same proclamation of salvation in written form.

14. What is the relationship between Tradition and Sacred Scripture?
Tradition and Sacred Scripture are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ. They flow out of the same divine well-spring and together make up one sacred deposit of faith from which the Church derives her certainty about revelation.

15. To whom is the deposit of faith entrusted?
The Apostles entrusted the deposit of faith to the whole of the Church. Thanks to its supernatural sense of faith the people of God as a whole, assisted by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Magisterium of the Church, never ceases to welcome, to penetrate more deeply and to live more fully from the gift of divine revelation.

16. To whom is given the task of authentically interpreting the deposit of faith?
The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the deposit of faith has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone, that is, to the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, and to the bishops in communion with him. To this Magisterium, which in the service of the Word of God enjoys the certain charism of truth, belongs also the task of defining dogmas which are formulations of the truths contained in divine Revelation. This authority of the Magisterium also extends to those truths necessarily connected with Revelation.
17. What is the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium?
Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium are so closely united with each other that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.


18. Why does Sacred Scripture teach the truth?
Because God himself is the author of Sacred Scripture. For this reason it is said to be inspired and to teach without error those truths which are necessary for our salvation. The Holy Spirit inspired the human authors who wrote what he wanted to teach us. The Christian faith, however, is not a ‘religion of the Book’, but of the Word of God – ‘not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living’ (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux).

19. How is Sacred Scripture to be read?
Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted with the help of the Holy Spirit and under the guidance of the Magisterium of the Church according to three criteria: 1) it must be read with attention to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture; 2) it must be read within the living Tradition of the Church; 3) it must be read with attention to the analogy of faith, that is, the inner harmony which exists among the truths of the faith themselves.

20. What is the Canon of Scripture?
The Canon of Scripture is the complete list of the sacred writings which the Church has come to recognise through Apostolic Tradition. The Canon consists of 46 books of the Old Testament and 27 of the New.

21. What is the importance of the Old Testament for Christians?
Christians venerate the Old Testament as the true word of God. All of the books of the Old Testament are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value. They bear witness to the divine pedagogy of God’s saving love. They are written, above all, to prepare for the coming of Christ the Saviour of the universe.

22. What importance does the New Testament have for Christians?
The New Testament, whose central object is Jesus Christ, conveys to us the ultimate truth of divine Revelation. Within the New Testament the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the heart of all the Scriptures because they are the principle witnesses to the life and teaching of Jesus. As such, they hold a unique place in the Church.

23. What is the unity that exists between the Old and the New Testaments?
Scripture is one insofar as the Word of God is one. God’s plan of salvation is one, and the divine inspiration of both Testaments is one. The Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfils the Old; the two shed light on each other.

24. What role does Sacred Scripture play in the life of the Church?
Sacred Scripture gives support and vigour to the life of the Church. For the children of the Church, it is a confirmation of the faith, food for the soul and the fount of the spiritual life. Sacred Scripture is the soul of theology and of pastoral preaching. The Psalmist says that it is ‘a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Psalm 119:105). The Church, therefore, exhorts all to read Sacred Scripture frequently because ‘ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ’ (Saint Jerome).



25. How does man respond to God who reveals himself?
Sustained by divine grace, we respond to God with the obedience of faith, which means the full surrender of ourselves to God and the acceptance of his truth insofar as it is guaranteed by the One who is Truth itself.

26. Who are the principal witnesses of the obedience of faith in the Sacred Scriptures?
There are many such witnesses, two in particular: One is Abraham who when put to the test ‘believed in God’ (Romans 4:3) and always obeyed his call. For this reason he is called ‘the Father of all who believe’ (Romans 4:11-18). The other is the Virgin Mary who, throughout her entire life, embodied in a perfect way the obedience of faith: Let it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38).

27. What does it mean in practice for a person to believe in God?
It means to adhere to God himself, entrusting oneself to him and giving assent to all the truths which God has revealed because God is Truth. It means to believe in one God in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

28. What are the characteristics of faith?
Faith is the supernatural virtue which is necessary for salvation. It is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it. The act of faith is a human act, that is, an act of the intellect of a person – prompted by the will moved by God – who freely assents to divine truth. Faith is also certain because it is founded on the Word of God; it works ‘through charity’ (Galatians 5:6); and it continually grows through listening to the Word of God and through prayer. It is, even now, a foretaste of the joys of heaven.

29. Why is there no contradiction between faith and science?
Though faith is above reason, there can never be a contradiction between faith and science because both originate in God. It is God himself who gives to us the light both of reason and of faith.

I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe. (Saint Augustine)


30. Why is faith a personal act, and at the same time ecc1esial?
Faith is a personal act insofar as it is the free response of the human person to God who reveals himself. But at the same time it is an ecclesial act which expresses itself in the proclamation, ‘We believe’. It is in fact the Church that believes: and thus by the grace of the Holy Spirit precedes, engenders and nourishes the faith of each Christian. For this reason the Church is Mother and Teacher.

No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother. (Saint Cyprian)

31. Why are the formulas of faith important?
The formulas of faith are important because they permit one to express, assimilate, celebrate and share together with others the truths of the faith through a common language.

32. In what way is the faith of the Church one faith alone?
The Church, although made up of persons who have diverse languages, cultures and rites, nonetheless professes with a united voice the one faith that was received from the one Lord and that was passed on by the one Apostolic Tradition. She confesses one God alone, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and points to one way of salvation. Therefore we believe with one heart and one soul all that is contained in the Word of God, handed down or written, and which is proposed by the Church as divinely revealed.


Tags: ,