After the Second Vatican Council, a number of new catechisms appeared which did not present Catholic Doctrine as it should be presented, and these new publications even included some very grave errors. Coupled with the new methods, whereby children are not required to memorize, two generations of children have grown up not knowing the Catholic Faith. For many years Rome did nothing. Now there has been published the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. It has been written for Bishops, who are required to adapt it to the needs of the faithful. One may fear that some Bishops will put off this task for a very long time, others will water-down the Doctrine even further, yet others will give only a partial presentation of the Doctrine, leaving important points untold.
Thus the need is still great for a Catechism to be put in the hands of the student in which he may find clear and complete answers to his questions. What better could be given him than the Catechism of St. Pius X, the holy Pope of the modern era?
To my knowledge, the Catechism of St. Pius X has never been published in English in its original text. There is one Catechism of Christian Doctrine, published by the Rev. Msgr. Eugene Kevane in Virginia, USA in 1974, but in fact, it contains a much later text which lacks much of the original text: it is the translation of the Catechismo della Dottrina Cristiana, the standard Italian Catechism, as it was in 1953. That Italian Catechism is in turn, a summary and reduction of the original Catechism of St. Pius X. The American edition in 1974 has further been “adapted according to the Second Vatican Council”, thus losing much of the value of the original text (e.g. expressions like “Soldiers of Christ” are suppressed from the teaching on the effects of Confirmation). The only book where I was able to find the authentic text is the excellent Compendium of Catechetical Instruction by the Right Reverend Monsignor John Hagan, first published in Dublin in 1910, and containing for each chapter of the Catechism the relevant part from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the questions and answers of the Catechism of Saint Pius X and Father Raineri’s Catechetical Instructions, which were very popular in the nineteenth century.
We present here Msgr. Hagan’s text with very slight modifications of style only. The current discipline of the Church on matters such as fasting has been included in smaller print to bring the text up-to-date without altering the original answers.
May this edition of Saint Pius X’s Catechism help priests, teachers and parents to impart the knowledge and love of the Doctrine of the Catholic Church to their pupils and their children in all its entirety and beauty. It is our hope that it will also help adult Catholics to revise and deepen their own knowledge of the Faith. It will be very helpful to catechumens to assist them towards a complete knowledge of the one true Faith. May the clear knowledge of the eternal truths of our Faith build in all readers the great certitudes that are the foundations of solid virtues. May the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary obtain all these graces for the readers of this volume, and may they pray for me.
[ABRIDGED from the introduction of Father Francois Laisney 1993 Sydney Australia]