General Directory for Catechesis: An Outline

The General Directory for Catechesis is upon us, ready or not. Fair warning: five parts, plus an introduction, 16 chapters, 291 numbered sections, and over 56,000 words. I would expect a few hundred posts in this series, something to take us well into 2012, if all goes according to plan.

Remember that the post-conciliar plan was not to provide just a catechism, but something more. This document and its 1971 predecessor were produced by the Congregation for the Clergy, written for bishops, and is not widely read amongst lay people, except for some catechetical professionals.

Here’s a roadmap of what lies ahead. Remember, your comments are not only possible, but they are welcome. Tell your parish catechists, RE directors, faith formation folks, and others who might be interested. The livelier the discussion, the better.

First up, sink your teeth into the outline. See anything of note?


  • Preaching the Gospel in the contemporary world
  • Listen! A sower going out to sow
  • Looking at the world from the standpoint of faith
  • The field that is the world
  • Human rights
  • Culture and cultures
  • Religious and moral factors
  • The Church in the world
  • The faith of Christians
  • The internal life of the ecclesial community
  • The situation of catechesis; its vitality
  • The sowing of the Gospel
  • How to read the signs of the times
  • Some challenges for catechesis

Part One


  • The missionary mandate of Jesus
  • The meaning and purpose of Part One

Chapter One, Revelation and its transmission through evangelization

  • The revelation of God’s providential plan
  • Revelation: deeds and words
  • Jesus Christ: mediator and fullness of Revelation
  • The transmission of Revelation by the Church, the work of the Holy Spirit
  • Evangelization
  • The process of evangelization
  • The ministry of the word in evangelization
  • Functions and forms of the ministry of the word
  • Conversion and faith
  • The process of continuing conversion
  • Socio-religious situations and evangelization
  • The mutual connection between the activities of evangelizaiton which correspond to these socio-religious situations

Chapter Two, Catechesis in the process of evangelization

  • Primary or first proclamation and catechesis
  • Catechesis at the service of christian initiation
  • Catechesis, an essential “moment” in the process of evangelization
  • Catechesis, a service of Christian initiation
  • Fundamental characteristics of catechesis of initiation
  • Catechesis at the service of ongoing formation in the faith
  • Continuing education in faith within the Christian community
  • Various forms of continuing catechesis
  • Catechesis and religious instruction in schools
  • The proper character of religious instruction in schools
  • The school context and those to whom religious instruction in schools is directed
  • Education in the Christian family, catechesis and religious instruction at the service of education in the faith

Chapter Three, The nature, object and the duties of catechesis

  • Catechesis: activity of an ecclesial nature
  • The object of catechesis: communion with Jesus Christ
  • The object of catechesis is expressed in profession of faith in the one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • The tasks of catechesis accomplish its objective
  • Fundamental tasks of catechesis: helping to know, to celebrate and to contemplate the mystery of Christ
  • Other fundamental tasks of catechesis: initiation and education in community life and to mission
  • Observations on the totality of these tasks
  • The baptismal catechumenate: structure and progression
  • The baptismal catechumenate: inspiration for catechesis in the Church


Part Two


The meaning and purpose of part two

Chapter One, Norms and criteria for presenting the Gospel message in catechesis

  • The word of God: source of catechesis
  • The source and the “sources” of the message of catechesis
  • Criteria for the presentation of the message
  • The christocentricity of the Gospel message
  • The trinitarian christocentricity of the Gospel message
  • A message proclaiming salvation
  • A message of liberation
  • The ecclesial nature of the Gospel message
  • The historical character of the mystery of salvation
  • Inculturation of the Gospel message
  • The integrity of the Gospel message
  • A comprehensive and hierarchical message
  • A meaningful message for the human person
  • Methodological principle for the presentation of the message

Chapter Two, “This is our faith, this is the faith of the Church”

  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the General Directory for Catechesis
  • The catechism of the catholic Church
  • Nature and purpose of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Structure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • The inspiration of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: trinitarian christocentricity and the nobility of the Christian vocation
  • The literary genre of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • The Deposit of Faith and the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • The catechetical tradition of the Fathers and the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Catechisms in the local Churches
  • Local catechisms: their necessity
  • The literary genre of the local catechism
  • Aspects of adaptation in a local catechism
  • The creativity of local Churches in the elaboration of catechesis
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church and local catechisms: the symphony of faith


Part Three


“You have one Master, the Christ” (Mt 23:10)

The meaning and purpose of Part Three

Chapter One, The pedagogy of God, source and model of the pedagogy of the faith

  • The pedagogy of God
  • The pedagogy of Christ
  • The pedagogy of the Church
  • Divine pedagogy, action of the Holy Spirit in every Christian
  • Divine pedagogy and catechesis
  • The original pedagogy of faith
  • Fidelity to God and to the person
  • The “condescension” of God, a school for the person
  • Evangelize by educating and educate by evangelizing

Chapter Two, Elements of methodology

  • Diversity of methods in catechesis
  • The content-method relationship in catechesis
  • Inductive and deductive method
  • Human experience in catechesis
  • Memorization and catechesis
  • The role of the catechist
  • The activity and creativity of the catechized
  • Community, person and catechesis
  • The importance of the group
  • Social communication

Part Four


“The Kingdom is for all” (Rm 15)

The meaning and purpose of Part Four

Chapter One, Adaptation to those to be catechized: general aspects

  • The need and right of every believer to receive a valid catechesis
  • A community need and a community right
  • Adaptation requires that catechesis be a healthy and adequate food
  • Adaptation takes account of diverse circumstances

Chapter Two, Catechesis according to age

  • General observations
  • The catechesis of adults
  • Adults to whom catechesis is directed
  • Elements and criteria proper to adult catechesis
  • General and particular tasks of adult catechesis
  • Particular forms of adult catechesis
  • The catechesis of infants and young children
  • The important context of infancy and childhood
  • Characteristics of catechesis for infants and children
  • Infants and children without religious support in the family or who do not attend school
  • Catechesis of young people
  • Pre-adolescence, adolescence and young adulthood
  • The importance of youth for society and the Church
  • Characteristics of catechesis for young people
  • Catechesis for the aged
  • Old age, gift of God to the Church
  • Catechesis of fulfilment and hope
  • Wisdom and dialogue

Chapter Three, Catechesis for special situations, mentalities and environments

  • Catechesis for the disabled and the handicapped
  • The catechesis of the marginalized
  • Catechesis for different groups
  • Environmental catechesis

Chapter Four, Catechesis in the socio-religious context

  • Catechesis in complex and pluralistic situations
  • Catechesis and popular devotion
  • Catechesis in the context of ecumenism
  • Catechesis in relation to Judaism
  • Catechesis in the context of other religions
  • Catechesis in relation to “new religious movements”

Chapter Five, Catechesis in the socio-cultural context

  • Catechesis and contemporary culture
  • Duties of catechesis for inculuration of the faith
  • Methodological processes
  • The need for and criteria of evaluation
  • Those with responsibility for the processes of inculturation
  • Privileged forms and means
  • Language
  • The media of communication
  • Anthropological environments and cultural tendencies
  • Intervention in concrete situations
  • Tasks of the local Churches
  • Guided initiatives

Part Five


The meaning and purpose of Part Five

Chapter One, The ministry of catechesis in the particular Churches and its agents

  • The particular Church
  • The ministry of catechesis in the particular Church
  • The Christian community and responsibility for catechesis
  • The Bishop has primary responsibility for catechesis in the particular Church
  • Priests, pastors and educators of the Christian community
  • Parents, primary educators of their children
  • The role of religious in catechesis
  • Lay catechists
  • Various types of catechists particulary necessary today

Chapter Two, Formation for the service of catechesis

  • Pastoral care of catechists in a particular Church
  • Importance of the formation of Catechists
  • Nature and purpose of the formation of catechists
  • The inspiring criteria of the formation of catechists
  • The dimensions of formation: being, knowing, savoir-faire
  • The human, Christian and apostolic maturity of catechists
  • The biblico-theological formation of the catechist
  • The human sciences and the formation of catechists
  • Various criteria which can inspire the use of human sciences in the formation of catechists
  • Pedagogical formation
  • The formation of catechists within the Christian community
  • Schools for catechists and centres for higher learning for experts in catechesis
  • Schools for ordinary catechists
  • Institutes for those with responsibility for catechesis
  • Higher institute for experts in catechesis

Chapter Three, Loci and means of catechesis

  • The Christian community is a home for catechesis
  • The family as an environment or means of growth in faith
  • The baptismal catechumenate of adults
  • The parish as an environment for catechesis
  • Catholic schools
  • Associations, movements and groups of the faithful
  • Basis ecclesial communities

Chapter Four, The organization of catechetical pastoral care in the particular Churches

  • Organization and exercise of responsibilities
  • The diocesan service of catechesis
  • Services of inter-diocesan co-operation
  • The service of the Episcopal Conference
  • The service of the Holy See
  • The co-ordination of catechesis
  • The importance of an effective co-ordination of catechesis
  • Coherent diocesan catechetical programmes
  • Catechetical activity in the context of new evangelization
  • Catechesis in educational pastoral work
  • Some responsibilities proper to the catechetical ministry
  • Analysis of the situation and its needs
  • Programmes of catechetical action and orientation
  • Elaboration of instruments and didactic aids for catechetical activity
  • Preparation of local catechisms: a direct responsibility of the episcopal ministry



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in General Directory for Catechesis, post-conciliar catechetical documents. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to General Directory for Catechesis: An Outline

  1. FrMichael says:

    Read part way through this when it first came out, but never finished or looked at it again. Seems like a dead letter in my diocese, never so much as mentioned at catechetical meetings.

  2. Pingback: GDC 8: Outline « Catholic Sensibility

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s