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United States Catholic Catechism for Adults

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The presence of the Catholic Church in the United States reaches back to the founding days of our country through the leadership of Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States. His story, like other stories at the start of the chapters in the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, gives us a glimpse into the lives of Catholics who lived out their faith throughout our country's history.

664 pages

First published January 1, 2006

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About the author

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1966 as the joint National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and United States Catholic Conference (USCC), it is composed of all active and retired members of the Catholic hierarchy (i.e., diocesan, coadjutor, and auxiliary bishops and the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter) in the United States and the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the bishops in the six dioceses form their own episcopal conference, the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference (Spanish, Conferencia Episcopal Puertorriqueña). The bishops in U.S. insular areas in the Pacific Ocean – the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of American Samoa, and the Territory of Guam – are members of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (Latin, Conferentia Episcopalis Pacifici).

The USCCB adopted its current name in July 2001. The organization is a registered corporation based in Washington, D.C. As with all bishops' conferences, certain decisions and acts of the USCCB must receive the recognitio, or approval of the Roman dicasteries, which are subject to the immediate and absolute authority of the Pope.

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5 stars
411 (57%)
4 stars
181 (25%)
3 stars
94 (13%)
2 stars
27 (3%)
1 star
8 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews
Profile Image for Karen.
655 reviews70 followers
July 4, 2011
I didn't know that the Catholic church agreed with me on so many issues until I read this book. There is still a list of things I disagree on, but the Church is more liberal and Bible-based than any other Christian denomination. I'm proud to be a Catholic after reading this book!
Profile Image for Margo Brooks.
642 reviews8 followers
October 16, 2014
The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults proves that love and mercy were the foundation of Catholic faith long before Pope Francis. As a returning Catholic, I decided to read this book to learn about Catholicism and grow my faith. Frankly, I was afraid to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself because the numbered paragraphs were daunting. This catechism takes to heart Pope John Paul II's direction to promulgate local catechisms to help people understand how to apply Church teachings in the face of the unique problems facing their societies. It does a very good job.

What I like most about USCCA is that it is broken into12-20 page chapters written in clear prose based on the Creed, the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments and prayer. Each chapter begins with a short biography of a person of faith who exemplifies the topic under discussion and then proceeds with a short explanation of Church teachings followed by a summary, questions for thought, meditation and a prayer.

For me, the chapters were just long enough. Longer and I might not have tried to tackle 500 pages of religious text! Being short, they allowed me to dip my toe in without too much apprehension. The short biographies were well written and instructive, and the meditations relevant. Although this is not a short book, it doesn't delve deep into issues. Instead it gives you the basic teachings in easily understandable prose with good examples derived from life in the United States. I have a much more complete understanding of Catholic teachings now and have a good idea of how to continue my learning. It will be a book I will return too again and again and now that I have read it, I may just be able to tackle the Catechism of the Catholic Church with less fear.
Profile Image for Edie.
135 reviews
May 6, 2014
Recommended by a Deacon when I complained that I had to read the Catechism with a dictionary standing by! I am a cradle Catholic, educated 7 years in a Catholic school and never knew my religion until I returned after a 50 year absence. What a blessing to find God waited for me to get a clue....
Profile Image for Grace.
117 reviews6 followers
March 14, 2015
This year I'm an RCIA catechist for the first time, so I picked up this catechism for American adults to get ideas on teaching those coming into the church. It's a nice, easy read considering the often weighty topics it discusses, and it gives clear, easy-to-understand explanations of Catholic teachings interspersed with prayers, reflections, and profiles of saints and blesseds, mostly from North America. The audio version includes nice background music for the prayers, reflections, and profiles.

I highly recommend this book for people who want to learn more about the Catholic faith and those who are already well catechized but want to get ideas on explaining the faith to others. The audio version is great for listening while driving, exercising, or doing chores.

This book differs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or "universal catechism" in that it is not the comprehensive explanation of the faith including paragraph numbers that was released all over the world in the 1990s. This edition is a teaching tool for American adults that takes a more simplified approach to the faith. If you've been considering reading the universal catechism but were feeling daunted by the task, you might want to check out the US Catechism for Adults first. It emulates the structure of the universal catechism and pulls most of its doctrinal content from that resource. I'm feeling inspired now to read the universal catechism from cover to cover--maybe sometime in 2015 or 2016. :)
Profile Image for Zandra.
246 reviews45 followers
October 12, 2015
I am currently going through RCIA and couldn't help but jump around to get various questions answered. I must say that despite going to mass with my Dad as a child, I still had a lot of misconceptions about the church. I was also raised and baptized in a Baptist church. Neither church demonized the other so I never had conflict of beliefs, but understanding the traditions and stances was a different story. This book allowed for me to get a solid understanding of church doctrine and the reasoning behind it. I still have my own beliefs on some stances, but now the opposite does not feel so adversarial. I love the history, philosophy, and invitation for discussion this book promotes. It's pretty fantastic. It has definitely helped me see clearer that I am making the right decision.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
8 reviews
January 10, 2012
We use this book in our Parish for RCIA class. It is a very approachable way to walk through the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Previously we used "This Is Our Faith", which I also recommend, but that book is somewhat more technical and heady than this volume. This book works for those with no exposure to the Faith all the way to the most seasoned Parishoner.
Profile Image for Karen Hesson.
16 reviews2 followers
May 4, 2014
Each chapter is introduced from the viewpoint of a well known catholic. These intros are the best parts of the book. I gave the book three stars due to the many editing errors. Incomplete sentences, misguided syntax, and placing words into quotes are some of the quirks. Once I figured out this ongoing problem, I was better able to use this bopk.
Profile Image for Amanda.
730 reviews25 followers
December 22, 2014
"No one can live without the hope that life has ultimate and lasting meaning beyond the concerns and struggles, the joys and satisfactions of each day."
Profile Image for Paul Lee.
4 reviews
March 17, 2014
Great information for converting people as well as young and old Catholics. So much good information. Explanations, definitions and common prayers are included in here as well
Profile Image for Randi.
1 review
August 8, 2021
Although I am not Catholic, I enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book because it clearly states where the Catholic church stands on most any issue you can think of. It was interesting to see where the Catholic church is both alike and different from the protestant faith I grew up with. Overall, although there are many rules, rituals, standards, traditions, etc. they do emphasise grace and not judging others, whether Catholic, Protestant, or non-Christian. Even though the Catholic Church has a stance on most any issue you can think of, the book also explains that many things are still left a mystery, which I think is an important part of religion, not having all of the answers.
I especially enjoyed listening to their stance on morality and developing one's conscience. They explain the church's stance on objective vs subjective morality and the Church's teachings on what is the objective truth vs one's intentions. To my understanding one must have the right intentions + the right action to be moral. One can not have the wrong intention + the right action, the right intention + the wrong action, or the wrong intention + the wrong action. The Catholic Church bases the objective truth on the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes (the blessings listed by Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount,) and The Lord's Prayer, each of which they explain in detail.
It also teaches that one's conscience is something to be developed through discipline and teaching. I guess I had never reflected on that. Somehow, as a child I picked up that one's conscience is your inner sense of right and wrong, or a still small voice, like the angel and devil on cartoon characters' shoulders. For some reason, I assumed that everyone had this inside. It was not something to be learned from an objective source and developed. Hearing this as an adult made a lot of sense, as did many other teachings from the book.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the teachings of the book, I think most would agree that their stances are well-thought out and reasonable, based on the Church's interpretation of The Bible. One of the things that drew me to reading this book was the fact that there are so many differing views and interpretations of The Bible through and within the many Protestant denominations. I admire that the Catholic Church is universal and unified in that sense, even if I don't agree with or understand all of their teachings, and even if many who call themselves Catholic don't follow all the rules of the Church. I know many see Catholics, or Christians in general as hypocrites, but the book explains that all are sinners and that is not the fault of religion. I also enjoyed the history presented throughout the book as well as the stories of the saints, which I was completely unfamiliar with.
232 reviews8 followers
February 22, 2017
Interesting, but of course I have conflicting views with several aspects of the church. This was required reading for RCIA. The material was explained clearly and was easy to understand.
Profile Image for Sandra.
608 reviews7 followers
March 8, 2020
I had to read the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults for a course that I took. I expected it to be very dry and boring. I admit that it was well-written and simple to understand. The book is divided into thirty-six chapters and deals with the Catholic creed, the sacraments, Christian morality, and prayer. My favorite aspect of this volume is how each chapter is introduced with a relevant saint or holy person of the Catholic faith. Each chapter ended with discussion questions, a meditation, and a prayer. I found it to be edifying and enjoyable. This could also be a valuable reference book.
Profile Image for Joseph McGarry.
Author 4 books71 followers
October 8, 2013
Good book to read. Good summary of the Catechism. It is the official US Catholic Bishops summary, so this is their official position. I would recommend it for anyone looking to understand the Catholic faith more. I would also get a copy of the Catechism as well.
Profile Image for James Laginess.
27 reviews
April 17, 2015
I began reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church Four years ago and today on October 27th, 2014 I'm officially done..... I can honestly say without hesitation; this book isn't for everyone.
Profile Image for logankstewart.
366 reviews28 followers
October 27, 2021
I’m not sure you can actually review a catechism. This book is a reference book that presents foundational Catholic beliefs and doctrines. I am not Catholic but I want to better understand the Catholic faith, especially coming from a Protestant background.

I will not offer a full analysis of the Catholic beliefs but instead break down the structure of the book, and I’ll give some final remarks.

The Catechism is divided into 4 sections - creeds, sacraments, beatitudes & commandments, and prayer. There is also a glossary (very helpful for comparing a Catholic definition to a Protestant term, for example), index, and list of prayers.

Any book proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Ruler of all has merit. I took pages of notes in my reading of things I disagreed with, from scriptural interpretation to tradition and certain meanings. My point isn’t to argue and dispute over doctrinal differences, at least not here. Fundamentally Jesus saves all who are willing to submit to him and believe in him. The Catholic faith provides many people comfort and peace; to me, if I had to live with the things presented in this book I would be more stressed out and confused. Too much tradition and bureaucracy can fog a man’s soul just as too little.

Helpful for understanding Catholicism, at least in part.
Profile Image for Richard.
155 reviews9 followers
January 23, 2020
Perspective up front: I just withdrew from my RCIA class.

The U.S. Catechism is a decent manual for learning about the basics of the Catholic Church, so long as the basics are all you want. Each chapter starts with a story of a saint, which they sometimes need to stretch to make relevant to the subsequent chapter. The prose is clear and unambiguous.

I'm giving it 4 stars, because it does its job, but in a classroom-textbook kind of way. It will leave those of us hungry for a deeper understanding of faith looking for additional resources, which is not a bad thing.
Profile Image for Vance J..
161 reviews2 followers
April 29, 2018
This was our assigned text for a course for Catholic school teachers that I took through Notre Dame University. I recommend this highly, especially for other “cradle Catholics” who may think they know the doctrine of the faith, but I am betting that much will be learned / relearned through a close reading.
Profile Image for greenloeb.
214 reviews31 followers
March 19, 2021
The lives of the faithful at the start of each chapter are a nice touch, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church is overall just a better text. This one attempts to simplify and condense the main Catechism, but oftentimes instead of doing that it just muddles its source material and repeats itself. Read the big green book instead.
1 review
March 28, 2019
Amazing, informative, and easy read. I read this as an optional supplement to RCIA and found it very helpful. I would recommend it to anyone considering joining the church or anyone interested in learning more.
Profile Image for Nina Mcdaniel.
49 reviews1 follower
December 30, 2018
A more narrative form of the universal catechism, devotion and discussion elements included.
99 reviews1 follower
September 19, 2019
Very good intro to Catholic teaching. Slightly dated in the references to events but still good. A worthy read for all interested in Catholic teaching.
Profile Image for Maria.
5 reviews
February 29, 2020
I read this as part of a Notre Dane theology class. Very enlightening and help you gain a better understanding of the Catholic Faith
Profile Image for Luke Langley.
51 reviews
April 2, 2015
This Catechism was written in response to the Universal Catechism published by the Vatican which encouraged local Catechisms to be written to elaborate on local needs and local Catholic Cultures. Throughout the Catechism are biographies or holy men and women, some saints and many of them Americans. There are also addressed issues important to American history and politics, such as slavery, abortion, and same sex marriage. These served to connect me not only with my identity as a Catholic, but as an American Catholic. It showed the great faith tradition that has existed in the United States, something I have not fully appreciated until now. Besides it was well organized and instructive in the principles of the faith as a good Catechism should be.
Profile Image for Sue.
593 reviews
May 26, 2010
Finished chapter 4 - all highlighted and outlined. Can't really say it's a riveting read. :)
What's to like? It was just to do. Got me an advanced religious ed. certification renewal that I didn't really need for another 4 years.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews

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