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(kăt`əkĭzəm) [Gr.,=oral instruction], originally oral instruction in religion, later written instruction. Catechisms are usually written in the form of questions and answers. Almost as old as Christianity, they were used especially for the instruction of converts and children. Catechisms were popular in the later Middle Ages and assumed even greater significance in the Reformation through Martin Luther's emphasis on the religious education of children. His Small Catechism (1529) is still the standard book of the Lutheran church. The greatest Calvinist catechism was the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). It was revised at Dort (1619) and was used in Dutch and German Reformed churches; other catechisms are the Longer and Shorter Catechisms of 1647 and 1648, drawn up to supplement the Westminster Confession; they are used in Presbyterian churches. The catechism for the Anglican Communion is included in the Book of Common Prayer.

A catechism long in use in the Roman Catholic church was that prepared by the Jesuit Peter Canisius, which appeared in 1555. The catechism of the Council of Trent, a document of high authority issued in 1566, was essentially a manual of instruction for use by the clergy in combating the Protestant Reformation; nonetheless it remained influential for over four centuries. The best-known Catholic catechism in England for many years was the Penny Catechism, adopted by the bishops of England and Wales; that in the United States was the Baltimore Catechism. The first new universal catechism of the Catholic church since that of the Council of Trent was released in French in 1992 and in English in 1994. The book forgoes the traditional question-and-answer format, instead providing a compendium of Roman Catholic teaching and belief. A summary of the catechism that employs a question-and-answer formate was released in 2005.



(1) A handbook containing the basic principles of Christian doctrine. During the first centuries of Christianity, the catechism was the oral instruction of those about to be baptized as Christians. Beginning with the 16th century the catechism became a book, a manual of instruction, which popularly set forth (usually in the form of questions and answers) the teachings of the Christian church. The Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches each have their own catechism.

(2) In the figurative sense, a catechism is a work written in theform of questions and answers.


instruction by a series of questions and answers, esp a book containing such instruction on the religious doctrine of a Christian Church
References in periodicals archive ?
Following the public promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on December 7, 1992, and in anticipation of the document's pending translation into English, Archbishop Levada hosted a symposium on the new Catechism in February 1994.
The PC(USA) has been focusing on the Heidelberg Catechism for several years.
In this Year of Faith, Benedict XVI urged us to renew, deepen, and grow in our relationship with Christ and his Church, and he specially recommended the ecclesial resource of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assist in this spiritual adventure.
In 1566 the so-called Roman Catechism was published in response to the request issued three years earlier by the Council of Trent.
3] As the title of the movie suggests, The Catechism Cataclysm involves a violent tragedy that both brings about fundamental change in Father Billy and serves to bring meaning back to him about his desire to be in the seminary.
From this perspective, therefore, it might be expected that such an orthodox Catholic work as Hamilton's Catechism would represent a pure form of late Middle Scots.
Schoolchildren had to learn the Catholic Catechism off by heart before they were allowed make their confirmation.
from our catechism must certainly have sounded terribly odd to someone
illustrates how the Jesuits drew on (and filtered) the fifteenth-century Florentine tradition of singing hymns (laude) to add a reinforcing musical element to the sixteenth-century catechism.
The view which is expressed in the Catechism is that "if bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
The resulting list will be invaluable to researchers in many fields, not least because it offers advice on the locations of copies and even guidance on their content; those who browse the list will also enjoy some of its lighter inclusions such as Handsome F-ng's catechism (1706) `written by a club of bullies and misses'.
Holding an open copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he says to viewers: "I am Father Battle.