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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. Which traditional catechisms are included in the Tradivox Catholic Catechism Index?

The Tradivox team has recovered scores of different catechisms in English alone (not counting variant editions and multi-volume works), ranging from the late 1200s to the 1950s. If you've heard of it, it's probably on our list. Our intention is to capture all of these digitally, while limiting our premium hardback collection to those catechisms that are of greatest merit. To view this list, download our print series brochure here

2. Can you give an example of a catechism that nobody's ever heard of?

Few are familiar with the 16th century "penny catechisms" of Bonner or Ledesma (recovered in Volume 1 of our Index), although the former was the work of a famously penitent bishop and the latter was the first translated work in North America. There are many more.

3. How are you deciding which catechisms to include in your Index?

We select catechisms for inclusion based on four essential Criteria:

  1. Historical significance

  2. Ecclesiastical approbation

  3. Doctrinal continuity

  4. Public domain

4. Why these four Criteria?

Criterion #1 keeps us focused on works that offer a striking glimpse into our Catholic past, as we tell the "story" of each in our Series Editor's Preface. Criteria #2 and #3 serve our goal of demonstrating the historical continuity of Catholic doctrine across time and space. Finally, Criterion #4 keeps our work "open source" for further research. 

5. Will you be republishing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)?

No. Our Index is limited to static works that have entered the public domain (see FAQ #3 above), typically comprising editions published prior to 1963. Although it was called “a sure norm for teaching the faith" when originally issued in 1992 (see Fidei Depositum, n. 3), the CCC has been revised on several points since then, and still remains in print under active copyright.

6. Is your project intended to replace other, more contemporary catechisms?

No. While there are many helpful contemporary catechisms (particularly Credo: Compendium of the Catholic Faith by Bishop Athanasius Schneider), our series is intended to serve as a complimentary resource to aid the Church's vast catechetical enterprise. As articulations of doctrine best suited to the exigencies of various times and places, every catechism holds a value unique to itself—and each must stand in its own right. This is precisely the strength of our Index: enabling one to trace Catholic doctrine over time, as clothed in the vesture of its variously conditioned historical expressions.

7. If your Index is composed of public domain texts, can I find these originals myself?

Given enough time, travel, and expertise, almost certainly.

8. What makes your Index unique, if it consists of public domain works?

Many aspects make this series unique, including:

  • Several years of international research curating these artifacts - some of which only exist today in microfilm or foreign collections.

  • Professional textual restoration from OCR scans and transcripts, with manual reconstruction of illegible typesets and recovered illustrations.

  • Correction, expansion, and standardization of all scholarly apparatus (e.g., footnotes and other annotations) from the original editions.

  • Exhaustive editing, reformatting, and appendixes that render each text more readable and cross-referencable as a series: an unprecedented format. 

  • Unique historical commentary included as a preface to every volume, "telling the story" of each traditional catechism in our Series Editor's Preface.

9. Then your Index is really an original work?

Yes. Far more than old scans between new covers, our Index is regarded under U.S. copyright law (17 U.S.C. §101) as a unique derivative work: a powerful and highly practical teaching tool for priests, catechists, parents and teachers, and an enduring contribution to broader historical and theological research.

10. Just how consistent are the old catechisms in doctrine?

They are strikingly consistent. We address this  further in a "sample search" here.

11. Are there any old catechisms that were later rescinded?

The public domain textual period from which our catechisms are drawn (see FAQ #3) was a time of highly rigorous theological review and publication standards. Our present research has identified no more than six works from this period that made it to ostensibly "Catholic" publication before being subsequently censored by the Holy See. These are not included in our Index.

12. What about any points of discontinuity between the old catechisms?

Unlike conciliar canons or binding papal definitions, it must be said that even official catechisms are not infallible documents in themselves, and it is possible for a catechism to contain errors. However, most discontinuities between the old catechisms are only apparent, and the strength of our Index is precisely its ability to "voice" so many articulations of a given teaching, so as to trace the essential continuity of the Apostolic doctrine throughout. Any discontinuities thus become readily discoverable—and of these, there are vanishingly few.​

13. In your view, which traditional catechism recovered in your Index is the best?

How should one evaluate a catechism—by word count? Provenance? Target audience? Authority? We are working toward an extensive review-and-rating system for catechisms for this reason. However, at present, we can at least heartily recommend the catechisms of Ven. Frassinetti and St. Pius X, both included in Volume 8 of our series. For a more expansive and scholarly text, the Catechism of the Council of Trent remains the most authoritative catechism in print, and is found in Volume 7 of our series: it is the work of an Ecumenical Council, composed by learned and holy bishops overseen by St. Charles Borromeo, promulgated with papal authority, repeatedly required and endorsed by centuries of subsequent synods and popes, and deemed "far removed from every danger of error" by Pope Clement XIII in 1761. 

14. How can I support the work of Tradivox? 

Donate here, tell your bishop, pastor, or school principal about this important resource, invite us to give a presentation for your parish or apostolate, and most of all: please pray for this undertaking!

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