Apologetics for the Masses #482 - ExCatholic4Christ asks: Why So Many Catholic Catechisms?

Bible Christian Society


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Question from ExCatholic4Christ: If Catholic teaching is unchanging, then why so many different Catholic catechisms?

General Comments

Hey folks,

I moved the "Articles of Interest" section up from the bottom of the page to just below this section.  Let me know if you think this is a feature that adds "value" to the newsletter.  I'm thinking about developing a separate website - CatholicReport.net - sort of like DrudgeReport.com and BonginoReport.com (in terms of the philosophy of the website, obviously not the reach), with articles from a wide variety of sources, on a wide variety of subject matter, that would, hopefully, be of interest to orthodox Catholics.  Any thoughts on that idea?

Articles of Interest

Holy See Convenes UN Panel Urging Global Abolition of Surrogacy

G7 Rift Over Abortion Prompts Pro-Life Praise for Italy's Prime Minister

Family Life
Research: Young Men Need Fathers

Farmers Gather to Urge Congress to End Policies Favoring Corporate Farms

Prominent Italian Liturgist Rips Traditionalists and the Latin Mass

Can the Vatican Ban the Latin Mass?

Louisiana Requires Ten Commandments Be Posted in Classrooms

Scientific American Magazine Calls for Federal Regulation of Homeschooling

Kansas Sues Pfizer Over Adverse Effects of Covid 19 "Vaccine"


I recently did a 4-part series on Tom ExCatholic4Christ's blog series in which he says he is "rebutting" the arguments in my book - A Blue Collar Answer to Protestantism - one chapter at a time.  Not much actual rebutting going on in his rebuttals, but you can read that for yourselves in Issues #477 - #480 (Apologetics for the Masses Newsletter).  

Anyway, in the last newsletter I did in response to Tom ExCatholic4Christ (Issue #480), there was something that Tom said in his "rebuttal" of Chapter 4 of my book, that I didn't really pay much attention to in my response.  Well, one of our subscribers - Kate - wrote and asked if I could pay a little bit more attention to that particular part of Tom ExCatholic4Christ's rebuttal and give a response to it.  So, I did just that.  And, after I sent my response to her, I could see how there might be others who had read Issue #480 who may have had a similar question as Kate's, so I thought I would just turn my reply to Kate into an issue of the newsletter.  Below is her question and then my response.


Question From Kate

I found your letter [Apologetics for the Masses #480] very interesting. Can you address the following claims made by Tom, the  ex-Catholic? I know he's interpreted the writings of Pope JPII and Pope Francis incorrectly about the catechism, but I'm not sure about:
"It’s (The CCC) been subject to the whims of the ever-changing RC church. In a Catholic article tracing the history of the Catholic catechism, 13 different published catechisms are cited, beginning with the catechism promulgated by the Council of Trent in 1566. Why so many? Why does the RCC keep revising its catechism? In 1992, pope John Paul II promulgated yet another version. The 1566 Trent catechism had declared that only Catholics could be saved (see here), but the 1992 catechism reflects Vatican II’s liberal reforms and states that all non-Catholic religionists can also possibly merit Heaven ( CCC paras 846-848). Which is right? The new catechism holds out the hope of Heaven for unbaptized babies ( CCC 1261), contradicting the 1885 Baltimore catechism, which relegated unbaptized infants to Limbo."

My Response

He is being very deceitful in what he is saying.  For example, the "different" Catechisms are not "different" because of changing doctrine or dogma, they are different in terms of how they're organized, how much material is in them, updated language, intended audience, etc.  For example, compare the Baltimore Catechism with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Both are "catechisms," but completely different in how they're structured and used, even though both are drawing upon the same Deposit of Faith taught by the Church.

Also, there were a number of "different" Catechisms written in different times and different countries because each one was not widely available to people outside of those times and places.  We have to remember that a catechism written in, say, France, in the 1600's, may not be widely known in Germany or Italy or elsewhere, and vice versa.  No internet.  No international publishing houses.  No television or radio.  No Amazon.com.  Mass communication was not what it is now.  So, different catechisms, to meet the catechetical needs of different peoples in different times, but same basic content.  Tom ExCatholic4Christ seems to think that having different catechisms necessarily entails different doctrines being taught by those catechisms.  Bad logic.  If he sees two different books on physics, does that mean they must teach different things about physics?  I mean, why so many books on physics?!  Besides, I doubt he's even read one Catechism much less compared one to another.

Furthermore, Tom ExCatholic4Christ, as do many anti-Catholics, seems to believe that anything written anywhere by any "Catholic" is apparently Catholic dogma.  Any Catholic knows that isn't the case.  For example, the "Catholic article" on the catechisms that he is quoting from above, was written by some extreme Traditionalist, who doesn't like Vatican II or Pope Francis.  This Traditionalist writes a blog, and Tom ExCatholic4Christ tries to hold him up as an authoritative Catholic and tries to make you think that this article written by this authoritative "Catholic" is saying there are these major differences in Church teaching from catechism to catechism - I mean, why else have so many catechisms, right?  Well, that's a bunch of horse manure. Even the article he quotes, towards the end, says this: "As the many catechisms show us, the Faith is the same yet it can often be explained in slightly different ways."  In other words, he "interpreted" the article in a way that is contrary to what the author of the article actually clearly states in the article!  Tom ExCatholic4Christ, appears to be a rather deceitful person.  But, considering the way he interprets Scripture, what he did is not very surprising.

We see this again regarding the "1566 Trent catechism" vs. the "1992 catechism" on salvation outside the Church.  The 1992 catechism says the same thing as the 1566 catechism, just re-stated.  I mean the sub-title on the page in the 1992 Catechism is: "Outside the Church there is no salvation."  When it goes on to talk about the salvation of those who are not Catholic, it says they "may" be saved.  Not that they will be saved.  "May" be saved.  Essentially, what the 1992 Catechism is saying, is that there may be some way, known only to God, by which those outside of the Church "may" be brought into the Church through some extraordinary means other than water baptism.  In other words, the Church does not try to tell God who He can or cannot save.  The folks who wrote the 1566 Trent catechism would agree with that.  So, the Church is absolutely necessary for salvation, but there may be ways to become a member of the Church that we are currently unaware of.  Again, the Church doesn't try to tell God who He can or cannot save.  One other thing to note, is that the article Tom ExCatholic4Christ quotes on this point was written by a "brother" from a religious order that was founded by an excommunicated priest! 

Regarding the teaching on "Limbo," this guy doesn't understand the difference between a doctrine and what is known as a theological opinion.  They are different levels of teaching.  Doctrines do not change.  Theological opinions can, and often do, change.  Limbo was never an official doctrine of the Church.  It was a theological opinion that held a certain amount of sway in the Church for a certain number of years - an opinion which has never been declared invalid - as to the fate of unbaptized infants.  Does the new Catechism say that unbaptized babies definitely go to Heaven?  No.  It's essentially the same as what I said above about salvation outside the Church.  As Tom ExCatholic4Christ says, the new catechism holds out the "hope" of Heaven for unbaptized babies - i.e., those who have not been incorporated into the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism.  So, like I said above, the Church does not try to tell God who He can or cannot save.  It hasn't changed it's teaching, it's just saying there may be ways, known only unto God, by which He can bring someone into the Church.  So, again...no change in doctrine.

Hope that helps...


Closing Comments

If you have any follow up questions on any of this, send them my way. 

I hope all of you have a great week!  Please pray for us, we're keeping you and your loved ones in our prayers!


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Apologetics for the Masses