Most who read at this board likely know what a catechism is. Certainly our Catholics readers were taught from a catechism as they prepared for the various sacraments. For those few to whom the term is foreign, I offer this definition:
Actually, it would be more correct to have defined the word as a summary of religious doctrine, given that the RCC is not the only church that produces catrechisms. As an example of such non-Catholic catechism, I mention a lovely little edition of a catechism published in Philadelphia in 1902. Its full title is: The Heidelberg Catechism of the Reformed Church in United States. Should anyone contend this is just another Catholic catechism, I add that it was printed by the Publication Board of the Reformed Church in the United States.
Hmmm. Does this mean that the Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary, which a censor of books has declared to contain nothing against faith and morals and which a bishop has determined may be read without damage to faith and morals, is untrustworthy? Not at all, for the definition of the word catechism, whether accurate or flawed, has no impact on faith and morals. On the other hand, that such an inaccuracy was included points to the need to read such documents carefully so as not to be deceived by error, whether inadvertent or intentional. Luke praised the Jews of Berea because, after listening to Paul and Silas teach, they went home and checked the Scriptures to verify what he had said (Acts 17:10,11).
What about the Catechism itself? Surely this is a different matter and one would expect ecclesiastical authorities to go to great lengths to ensure that no error creeps into the books the essentials of which the RCC requires catechumens to understand. One aid to understanding the Catholic Catechism informs that:
Not too long ago, while reading in one of the volumes in my collection of Catholic catechisms, I came across something that caught my eye. This book, which has all the proper stamps and approvals, is the fourth and last in a series. These claims may be found in the Preface:
What was it that caught my eye? It was an error. Granted, it was a small error, but one that I believe should not have escaped the attention of the Deputy Censor, the Bishop of Wheeling or the Bishop of Columbus – all of whom supposedly read the book before affixing their seals of approval. As one who spends a great deal of time researching and writing, I can understand how the error might have slipped past the author. After spending many hours or days writing and re-writing something, it is easy to overlook things when proofreading. I can understand how an editor or proofreader in a publishing house could miss the error. After all, such people are trained to find and correct mistakes in spelling or grammar, not references to passages in the Bible. I cannot understand how a churchman, among whose labors is teaching the doctrines of his faith to laymen could overlook a wrong reference to a passage of Scripture.
So what was this error?
I checked the Douay-Rheims translation, which, we are told, is faithful to the Vulgate. In that book, 1 Corinthians 14:32 reads: "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." The quoted words are to be found in Chapter 13 of Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church, where verse 12 reads as follows in the Douay-Rheims: "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known." I checked the Latin Vulgate, the King James Version and even my 21st Edition of Eberhard Nestle's Novum Testamentum Graece. None of these corroborated MacEachen's citation.
As I said, it was a small error, and one easily enough resolved. It occurs to me, however, that if one error can make it through the screenings such a book must survive, then perhaps there are others as well, If there are, might not some of them be major?
How about it? Can YOU trust YOUR catechism?
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