WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The first official catechism produced by the U.S. Catholic bishops since the Baltimore Catechism will be available to the public as of July 31.
Unlike the Baltimore Catechism, which was composed of 421 questions and answers and aimed at children, the new United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is designed for grown-ups and does not require rote memorization.
Instead, it promotes a command of Catholic faith, prayer life and morals through a more accessible writing style and numerous features.
The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is an adaptation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1992.
At that time the Pope urged that local catechisms be developed to better address specific situations in different countries. The adult catechism is meant to present Catholic teaching comprehensively and authoritatively but with a view to American culture and experience.
The intended audience includes those who are preparing for the sacraments of initiation through the RCIA process, young adult Catholics, Catholics who may have drifted away from the practice of the faith, and all who may seek to know more about Catholic belief and practice.
Six years in the making, the Catechism for Adults was authorized by the American bishops in June 2000, as a project of the USCCB Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism.
Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, at that time bishop of Pittsburgh and himself the author of an adult catechism, was chairman of the five-bishop editorial oversight board that handled the writing.
The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults follows the universal catechism’s arrangement of content: “The Creed: The Faith Professed”; “The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated”; “Christian Morality: The Faith Lived”; and “Prayer: The Faith Prayed.”
The preface and each of the 36 chapters opens with a story about a saint, a biblical figure or other exemplary Catholic, most of them American, both to invite reflection and to demonstrate the contribution of American Catholics to U.S. society.
These brief biographies include Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the parochial school system; Sister Thea Bowman, a convert, singer, and educator, who proclaimed in song and speech the black spiritual culture of the rural South; and Archbishop Fulton Sheen, philosopher, author, television preacher, and head of the Propagation of the Faith.
The 664-page Catechism for Adults is available from USCCB Publishing for $24.95.