The Catechism of the Catholic Church is now available at the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a format identical to an e-book. The new version, currently only available in English, can be found at www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/index.cfm.
Authorized by Pope John Paul II in 1986, the Catechism of the Catholic Church was first published in 1992, with a revised second edition published in 2000. Prior to 1992, the Church had been using a universal catechism approved by the Council of Trent in 1566.
Since its release in 1992, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has become a bestseller in the Church, with the USCCB alone having sold more than 988,000 print copies of the second edition. Late in 2011, the USCCB released the e-book edition, which has sold more than 7,100 copies through Amazon, iTunes and the USCCB online bookstore.
“Providing the Catechism in this particular electronic format will make this foundational resource even more accessible to people,” explained Bishop John Wester, chair of the USCCB Communications Committee. “It is free to anyone who has access to the Internet.”
Available through any Internet browser, the Catechism file displays and functions as an e-book. Users can bookmark or highlight areas, see footnotes in a “light box” without leaving the original page, and search within the Catechism, including by paragraph number.
Until the second half of the twentieth century, for millions of Catholics in the United States, the word “catechism” meant the Baltimore Catechism, which originated at the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884 when the bishops of the United States decided to publish a national catechism. The Baltimore Catechism contained 421 questions and answers in 37 chapters and gave unity to the teaching and understanding of the faith for millions of American Catholics. Its impact was felt right up to the dawn of the Second Vatican Council in 1962.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church is proving to be as compelling if not more, of an influence on the faithful,” said Bishop David Ricken, Chair of the USCCB Evangelization and Catechesis Committee. “Our ability to use the new technologies means that many more millions will be able to find the Catholic Church’s teachings on their tablets, their smartphones, and their laptops.”
“The USCCB is wisely using technology to serve their constituents and they are raising the bar for engaging users,” said Dave Gallerizzo, CEO of Fig Leaf Software, the interactive Web agency that partnered with the USCCB to create the e-book. “There might be some e-book readers that have a few of these features, but I doubt you can find one that offers all of these features in a single application.”
The new e-book version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church resides on the USCCB’s flagship website, www.usccb.org. The site receives more than two million visitors per month, with approximately two trillion bytes of data delivered. In addition to reading content, visitors to the site can share what they find with their social media networks, receive an RSS feed of the daily readings, and view videos of reflections on the daily Scripture readings.
About the new e-book version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Most browser-based e-book readers:
- Make the e-book readable in a web browser
- Have some type of table of contents that links to chapters
- Don’t require any modifications to the e-book file
The new e-book version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church has all those features, plus new custom features that most e-book readers don’t offer. The new USCCB e-book reader has:
- A built in search feature
- Robust internal linking feature set
- Footnotes and internal page references are hyperlinked.
- Each internal link displays the referenced paragraph in a lightbox overlay.
- The lightbox overlay has a link to jump directly to that section of the book
- No browser plugin is required for legacy browsers.
- The USCCB e-book application works natively in any browser, including Internet Explorer.
- It works on an iPad.
- It can print entire sections, not just a single page.