Second Edition Revision of the Catechism

Dear Catholic Exchange:

What is the difference between the Catechism of the Catholic Church first and second edition?



Dear Julian,

Peace in Christ!

The second edition is a revised edition. The first edition was written originally in French and translated into various languages for use. After a few years of feedback, a commission produced the polished official Latin version, called the "typical edition" from which official translations were to be made.

The differences between the two had little effect on most people. For some the biggest difference is that the second edition has a glossary that isn't even part of the approved Catechism. For others it was the purchase of a second edition so soon after the first.

Some differences of interest did concern content. The wording explaining the nature of a lie was changed. The first edition, number 2483 defines lying as "to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth." This last clause "who has the right to know the truth" was deleted from the revised Catechism because it was more confusing than helpful for a number of the faithful. 

Properly understood there is no doubt that the older formula is valid. The notion of "lying" can never be considered apart from the issue of the kind of truth being sought, the party who is seeking the truth, and whether they are really entitled to it (the classic case of Nazi's demanding to know whether there are Jews in the house). Nonetheless, while the Catechism is normative, it for learning and teaching the faith. It was decided that the second formulation was more helpful.

For a better understanding you may want to read the Apostolic Letter "Laetamur Magnopere" by Pope John Paul II, approving and promulgating "the Latin Typical Edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church."

United in the Faith,

Eric Stoutz
Information Specialist
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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