LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE PIUS X TO CARDINAL PETER RESPIGHI, VICAR OF ROME, WITH WHICH IS APPROVED THE CATECHISM OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE FOR THE DIOCESE AND THE ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE OF ROME
October 18, 1912
[Note: The original of this letter is in Italian and found on the Vatican website here. Here are also photocopies of the letter on pages 3–4 of the original Catechism published in 1912: Catechism cover Page 2–3 Page 4–5. Note also the English translation below is not completely accurate as it was created using Google translate.]
Since the beginning of Our Pontificate We addressed the utmost care to religious instruction of the Christian people, and particularly children, convinced that most of the ills that afflict the Church come from ignorance of its doctrine and its laws. The enemies of it condemn cursing what ignorant, and many of 'his children, sore knowing them, they live as if they were not. So often insisted on the necessity sum in teaching the catechism, and promovemmo everywhere, according to our power, and with the Encyclical Letters Unripe nimis and with the provisions concerning the catechism in parishes, and with the approval and encouragement at conferences catechetical and schools of religion, both by introducing here in Rome, the text of the Catechism used for some time in some great ecclesiastical provinces of Italy.
However with the passage of the years, so much on account of the new difficulties insidiously that comes in to any teaching of Christian doctrine in schools, where s'impartiva for centuries, as also for his provident anticipation, as we wanted, the first Holy Communion, and other reasons, since there was expressed a desire for a Catechism enough, it was much shorter and more suited to today's needs, We we agreed that there was less ancient Catechism in a new, very small, which we examined ourselves and wanted were also examined from many of our brother bishops of Italy, so that we express their opinion in general, and obtained with regard to particular, according to their knowledge and experience, the modifications to be introduced.
They had a favorable appreciation almost unanimous, with quite a few valuable comments that we ordered were duly taken into account, there seems not to have to delay more than a text replacement for various reasons recognized appropriate, confident that it will, with the blessing of the Lord, will return much more comfortable and equally, if not more beneficial ancient, and because the volume of the book and the things to apprendersi, much diminished, not disanimerą the boys, already very aggravated from the school curriculum, and will allow teachers and catechists to do learn in full, and because you are, despite the brevity, as explained and emphasized the truth that nowadays, to the immense harm of souls and society, are no longer fought, or misunderstood, or forgotten.
Indeed we are confident that even adults, who want to, as it is sometimes supposed to live better and to educar family, revive the soul the fundamental knowledge upon which the spiritual life and Christian morality, are to find useful in this and appreciated this brief sum, very accurate even in the form, where they will meet with great simplicity exhibited the capital divine truths and the most effective Christian reflections.
This Catechism, therefore, and the Prime elements from it, for the convenience of little children, we are willing derive no word mutation, We, with the authority of this, we approve and prescribe the dioceses and ecclesiastical province of Rome, by prohibiting d ' henceforth in 'catechetical instruction is followed other text. As for the other dioceses d 'Italy, We just express the wish that the same text from. We and many Ordinaries deemed sufficient, is also adopted in them, because even cease the fatal confusion and discomfort that nowadays many feel in the frequent mutations of residence, finding new homes in vastly different formulas and texts that they hardly learn, while disuse confused and finally also forget what they already knew. And worse it is for the children, because nothing is so fatal to the success of a teaching as the continue them with a different text from that to which the young man is already more or less addicted.
And since the introduction of the text will encounter some difficulties adults, because it deviates from the previous year, on certain formulas, so, to remove inconveniences, we order that all major festive harvest, as well as in all classes of Christian doctrine, should be recited in the beginning, loudly, clearly, composedly, the first prayers and the main other formulas. In this way, after some time, without effort, everyone will have them learn, and s'introdurrą good and dear custom of common prayer and education, which has long been in place in many Italian dioceses, with no small edification and profit.
We strongly urge in the Lord all the catechists, now that the brevity of the text makes it easier to work with much greater care to want to explain and to penetrate into the souls of boys to Christian doctrine, the greater the need for a soda nowadays religious education for the spread of impiety and immorality. Always remember that the fruit of the Catechism depends almost entirely by their zeal and their intelligence and skill in make their teaching more mild and pleasing to the pupils.
We pray to God that, as today the enemies of the Faith, evermore growing in number and power, by all means go by propagating the error, so arise countless souls volonterose with great zeal to assist the pastors, teachers and Christian parents in teaching what is necessary as noble and fruitful of the Catechism.
With this wish impart to you, Your Eminence, and to those who will cooperators in this holy ministry, the apostolic blessing.
From the Vatican, 18 October 1912.
PIUS PP. X.