FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Which traditional catechisms are included in your Index?
We are presently retaining the full list of titles as proprietary and confidential. That being said, our team has recovered more than fifty different works in English alone (not counting variant editions or multi-volume works), ranging from the late 1200s to the 1950s. If you've heard of it, it's probably on our list.
2. Can you give an example of a catechism that nobody's "heard of"?
Few are familiar with the 16th century "penny catechisms" of Bonner or Ledesma (recovered in Volume 1 of our Index). 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:
Criterion 1: Historical significance
Criterion 2: Ecclesiastical approbation
Criterion 3: Doctrinal continuity
Criterion 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 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church?
No. Although the tremendously important 1992 Catechism stands as “a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" as described by Pope St. John Paul II (cf. Fidei Depositum n. 3), because our Index is limited to works that have entered the public domain (see FAQ #3 above), it typically comprises publications that appeared prior to 1963. Furthermore, our printed hardcover series will not comprise all the many texts that we are remastering for deployment in our digital platform.
6. Is the Index intended to replace the various contemporary catechisms?
No, but rather as a complimentary resource to aid the Church's vast catechetical enterprise. Being articulations of doctrine best suited to the exigencies of various times and places, every catechism holds a value unique to itself - and thus the contemporary catechisms must stand in their 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 myself?
Given enough time, travel, and expertise, almost certainly.
8. What makes your Index unique, if it consists of public domain works?
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.
Theological review and alignment of footnotes and annotations from the original works.
Exhaustive editing, reformatting, and appendices to render each text more readable and cross-referenced as a series - an unprecedented format.
Unique historical commentary included with 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?
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 quite rigorous theological review and publication standards. Our present research has identified only one work from this period that made it to English print before being subsequently censored by the Holy See. It is 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 error.* However, most discontinuities between the old catechisms are only apparent, and the strength of our Index is precisely in 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.
*Possibly excepting the Catechism of the Council of Trent - see FAQ #13 below.
13. In your view, which traditional catechism recovered in your Index is the best?
How should one evaluate a traditional catechism - by its breadth? Brevity? Endurance? Suitability for a given audience? The level of magisterial authority involved in its publication? Inclusion of examples, anecdotes, and other teaching aids? We may work toward a kind of "rating" for each catechism in the future, but at present we can at least heartily recommend the Catechism of the Council of Trent: the work of an Ecumenical Council, composed by learned and holy bishops directly overseen by St. Charles Borromeo, promulgated with papal authority, repeatedly required and endorsed by centuries of subsequent synods and popes, and declared "far removed from every danger of error" by Pope Clement XIII in 1761.
14. How can I support the work of Tradivox, Inc.?
There are many ways to contribute: donate directly or volunteer on our team here; tell your bishop, pastor, or principal about this important work and contact us to give a presentation for your parish, school, or apostolate. Most of all, please pray for this undertaking.