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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 ?
The Catechism of the Catholic is "an authentic fruit Church of the Second Vatican Council which has served as an engine of renewal neutralizing and counteracting the confusion precipitated by dissenters and, more vitally, clarifying and communicating the gift of the Faith to the misinformed, uninformed, and indeed to all the faithful at every stare of their lives.
In 1566 the so-called Roman Catechism was published in response to the request issued three years earlier by the Council of Trent.
Now a new updated Vatican approved version of the Catechism is on sale - and it is proving popular with the faithful.
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.
Holding an open copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he says to viewers: "I am Father Battle.
ET Tom Cahill, director of religious publications at Double Day discusses the newly released book Catechism of the Catholic Church.
On homosexuality, the catechism of the Catholic Church reads in part that homosexuals "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.
Youcat," a Catholic catechism for youth of the world, is ready for distribution in 17 languages.
On the other hand, something was needed for Catholic high schools, whose catechism curriculum has largely been assembled higgledy-piggledy, with no rhyme or reason.