The Catholic Catechism

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed. New York: Doubleday, 2003), produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). They have also made available an online e-book.

A Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published in 2005, with an introduction by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, shortly before he became pope.

Papal Writings on Catechesis

Pope John Paul II, On Catechesis in Our Time (Catechesis Tradendae) – the pope's Apostolic Exhortation on catechesis, delivered in October 1979. 

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Gospel, Catechesis, Catechism: Sidelights on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Ignatius, 1995). 

  • "The main purpose of this book is to offer an invitation to this changed approach to the Catechism. He wants people to see, as he shows here, how the Catechism is an excellent teaching tool that responds to man's deepest questions about the meaning of life, how to live a good life, and how to attain happiness in this life and in eternal life. He shows how the Catechism affirms that man's happiness is love, and that the essence of true love has been manifested in the Person of Jesus Christ." Publisher description.

Additional Resources and Writings

The Archdiocese of New York has a helpful list of catechetical resources around the Web.

More information and texts on catechesis can be found on USCCB's website.

The National Conference for Catechetical Leadership is a ministry devoted to resourcing Roman Catholic catechesis. 

Timothy O'Malley of the McGrath Institute at Notre Dame has posted a theological defense of why we need to learn how to teach catechesis. As he puts it: "An introduction to catechetical theology is thus forming burgeoning leaders in the field of catechesis in a theological-pedagogical aesthetics and dramatics." 

TeamRCIA is an online community of catechists, which gathers resources for catechesis and provides a platform for connecting with other catechists.

The Catechetical Review is an international quarterly catechetical journal primarily written for Directors of Religious Education, catechetical leaders, religious educators, youth ministers, RCIA coordinators and anyone involved in faith formation. 

Catechist Magazine is issued seven times per year and offers resources, articles, tips, and teaching ideas for parish catechists.


A small sampling of the many Roman Catholic works on catechesis include:

The Catechetical Instructions of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. Joseph P. Collins (Veritatis Splendor, 2012)

The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Ignatius, 1994).

Martin Connell, The Catechetical Documents: A Parish Resource (Liturgy Training, 2007).

Pierre de Cointet, Barbara Morgan, and Petroc Willey,  The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Craft of Catechesis (Ignatius, 2008).

Liam Kelly, Catechesis Revisited: Handing on Faith Today (New York: Paulist Press, 2000).

USCCB Congregation for the Clergy, General Directory for Catechesis (Washington, DC, 1998).

USCCB Congregation for the Clergy, the National Directory for Catechesis (Washington, DC, 2005). 

Nick Wagner, Field Hospital Catechesis : The Core Content for RCIA Formation (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2018).

David Yamane and Sarah MacMillen with Kelly Culver, Real Stories of Christian Initiation: Lessons for and from the RCIA (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006).

David Yamane, Becoming Catholic: Finding Rome in the American Religious Landscape (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

A brief timeline of the development of the RCIA

  • At the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), the bishops called for a restoration of the catechumenate.

  • 1966 – a provisional rite for the catechumenate distributed

  • 1972 – the normative rite was promulgated in Latin (Ordo initiationis christianae adultorum)

  • 1974 – a provisional English translation was issued (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)

  • 1986 – the U.S. Bishops’ Conference approved present edition of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults with U.S. adaptations, national statutes, and a national plan of implementation

  • 1988 – the U.S Bishops made the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults mandatory in the United States.

The call for the restored catechumenate at Vatican II came from Chapter III of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which addressed sacraments other than the Eucharist:

64 . The catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps, is to be restored and to be taken into use at the discretion of the local ordinary. By this, means the time of the catechumenate, which is intended as a period of suitable instruction, may be sanctified by sacred rites to be celebrated at successive intervals of time.

65 . In mission lands it is found that some of the peoples already make use of initiation rites. Elements from these, when capable of being adapted to Christian ritual, may be admitted along with those already found in Christian tradition, according to the norm laid down in Art. 37–40, of this Constitution.

66 . Both the rites for the baptism of adults are to be revised: not only the simpler rite, but also the more solemn one, which must take into account the restored catechumenate. A special Mass “for the conferring of baptism” is to be inserted into the Roman Missal.