It is arranged in four main parts:
- The Profession of Faith - The Creed
- The Celebration of the Christian Mystery - The Sacred Liturgy, especially the Sacraments
- Life in Christ - including the Ten Commandments
- Christian Prayer - including The Lord's Prayer
On the 30th Anniversary of the opening of Vatican II - 11 October 1992 - Saint Pope John Paul II promulgated the text of the Catechism. with his apostolic constitution, Fidei depositum. An English translation was published by the U.S. bishops in 1994 and revised in 1997 following the the official Latin reference text. Minor amendments in this "Second Edition", include a revised position on the death penalty.
The Catechism is a rather different book to the old "Penny Catechism"... Whilst it certainly contains clear and unambiguous teaching, this is presented not as something to learn by heart but as wisdom to reflect on and pray with. It is relational rather than hierarchical in its organisation : the teachings are cross-referenced, lead in many directions to other aspects of the being a Catholic, and build up a picture of the faith as a rich tapestry, rather than a series of propositions. It is intended to act as a reference for shorter and more accessible teaching material, such as the Compendium of the Catechism (which does use a Q&A format) and the excellent YouCat, aimed at a youth market but in fact an very useful shorter catechism for practising Catholics, those wishing to refresh or deepen their knowledge of the faith and indeed anyone interested in a broad view of Catholic belief.
Copies of YouCat are available from the Hallam Pastoral Centre shop.