Catholic Review of: Catechism of the Council of Trent
Orthodoxy: Completely orthodox.
Reading Level: Intermediate
By Clifford Carvalho (MA) - See all my reviews
Still the top Catechism
The Roman Catechism
Also called: Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Tridentine Catechism, or the Catechism for Parish Priests
This edition has the Imprimatur of Cardinal Hayes, dated Jan. 3, 1923, several Nihil Obstats, and an Imprimi Potest.
The Roman Catechism was commissioned and published by St. Pius V as a result of the Council of Trent and the authorship was headed by St. Charles Borromeo. With two saints like those two in charge, you know it has to be good. It is set up the way one would expect an adult level Catechism to be, with a section about the Apostle's Creed and it’s constituent parts, a section on the Sacraments (both in general and in particular), the Ten Commandments, and a section on prayer, with emphasis on the Lord’s Prayer.
The most well known catechism today, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), has a nearly identical layout, but tends to use less concise and more ambiguous language. The Roman Catechism on the other hand, has clear, concise, and straightforward language, rendering it a superior edition of the Catholic Catechism.
The historical record shows that the '94 Catechism is largely a compromise between the "spirit of Vatican II" and theologians faithful to Church Doctrine. There was also political turmoil surrounding the authorship of this Catechism, but St. Charles Borromeo, was unapologetic in his explanation of the faith, making sure to be as faithful as possible to Church Doctrine. That is what has made this Catechism top of the line ever since. There are many Catechisms floating around today and many more over years past, so it is erroneous to think that one version (such as the ’94 edition) excludes all others.
As far as what’s available in English today, there is no better book for explaining the Catholic faith than this one-unless of course you want to go to the advanced level of the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas; but as far as easier to read books go, this is as good as they come.
One drawback to this Catechism is that the paragraphs are not numbered like in the ’94 Catechism, but the formatting of the text is secondary. What’s important is to have the text be as accurate and clear as possible in explaining the Catholic Faith.
You can purchase this book here.