and Grace: Reflections on
Part Three, Section One of
the Catechism of the Catholic
Arthur R. Madigan, S. J.
IN SECTION 5 OF THE ENCYCLICAL Veritatis Splendor, we read: “If this encyclical, so long awaited, is being published only now, one of the reasons is that it seemed fitting for it to be preceded by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which contains a complete and systematic exposition of Christian moral teaching.” As it happens, the encyclical came out in English before the Catechism, but in any case the “complete and systematic exposition” to be found in the Catechism and the exploration of “certain fundamental questions regard the Church's moral teaching” to be found in the encyclical are complementary. I hope, then, that these reflections on the basic moral teaching of the new Catechism may be appropriate to a meeting concerned with the thought of Pope John Paul II. I say “reflections.” I have not studied the sources or the redaction of the new Catechism with the thoroughness or the skill of a professional theologian, for I am not a professional theologian, moral or otherwise.
A word about the structure of the Catechism. Like its predecessor, the Roman Catechism or the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the new Catechism has four parts, corresponding to the Apostles'