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Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR NEW MONTHLY DONATIONS! Thank you and God bless.

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How much Authority does the Catechism of the Catholic Church Carry?

Question:

What is the status or the degree of authority of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? People tend to quote it as if every sentence in it is a de fide proposition.

Answer:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a presentation of Church doctrine that has previously been taught with varying degrees of authority. To determine the degree of authority with which any given doctrine has been taught, one must investigate the history of that particular teaching. Look to the Catechism’s footnotes for help in this regard. There you will find references to Church councils, documents, canon law, Scripture, etc., all of varying degrees of authority.

Whatever the underlying degree of authority any given doctrine may carry, Pope John Paul II called the Catechism “a statement of the Church’s faith and of Catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s magisterium” (Fidei Depositum 3). He declared it to be “a sure norm for teaching the faith.”

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