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With catechism , catechists , catechetics and catechumens, catechesis is one of the foreign words derived from the Greek κατηχέω ( katechéo "I teach / instruct"). In this word field, it is the description of the process, meaning instruction or instruction . It is not to be confused with the Katechon , which is also at home in this environment , and which goes back to the Greek κατέχω ( katecho "I hold on / inhibit / steer"). The reason for this confusion is that the Greek η ( Eta ) was transcribed by the Latins like ε ( Epsilon ) with e .

Meanings and Uses

The word catechesis, like its related terms, is used today almost exclusively in the area of ​​the Christian churches, where it means the theoretical and practical introduction to the Christian faith in the family and in special community events. In contrast to religious education, which aims to impart knowledge, catechesis aims to introduce the practice of faith. It is biography-related, action-oriented and limited in time. The encounter of man with God, whom Jesus Christ preached, is the basic task of catechesis. The relationship of this Father God to man is placed in the center, so that man can let himself be carried away and thereby develop further in his Christianity.

Since early church times, catechesis has been the preparation for the reception of a sacrament , first always baptism , later (Roman Catholic) first communion and confirmation or (evangelical) the confirmation developed from both . At times, religious instruction in schools was also called catechesis. A specifically church-related concept was connected with this. In a technically narrower sense, a single catechetical unit, a (children's) sermon and its written draft with learning objectives, course plan, well-founded use of media, etc. is referred to as catechesis.

The main time of the early church baptismal catechesis was Lent , which led to baptism on Easter vigil in several, sometimes solemn stages . Even today, reflect Gospels of the five septuagesima this taufkatechetische determination.

Protestant church

In the Protestant Church, catechesis in the narrower sense of the word refers in particular to confirmation , which is usually prepared by the pastor in an extracurricular, one to two-year confirmation lesson (recently: confirmation work ) .

Full-time catechists of the Protestant churches in Germany have been commissioned or “appointed” since 1945 with a vocation to give religious instruction in public schools according to Art. 7 III 2 GG, which roughly corresponds to the Roman Catholic Missio canonica .

Roman Catholic Church

In the Catholic area, the concept of a mystagogical catechesis is becoming more and more popular for sacraments , that is, catechesis as an introduction to the celebrated secrets of faith through symbolic and biographical depth interpretation.

On August 15, 1997, the Congregation for the Clergy published a new version of the General Directory for Catechesis . Reference is made here to the drafting of a “Directory for the catechetical instruction of the Christian people”, which was ordered within the framework of the Second Vatican Council . A first edition was made by Pope Paul VI. approved , whose promulgation took place on April 11, 1971 under the name Directorium catecheticum generale .

With the apostolic letter “Fides per doctrinam” in the form of a motu proprio of January 16, 2013 it was determined that the responsibility for catechesis, for which the Congregation for the Clergy was previously responsible, would be transferred to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization . In the same letter, the corresponding new regulation in the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus is modified.

Full-time catechists of the Roman Catholic Churches need a missio canonica to carry out their work , but the first place of catechesis is the family . In many parishes, the catechesis of the sacraments is largely in the hands of voluntary catechists who do not have to have any special training (“ parish catechesis ”).


In (German-speaking) Switzerland in the Catholic area the term “catechesis” is still synonymous with religious instruction, which, depending on the canton, is a compulsory subject or optional offer in the rooms of the school or - according to the actual meaning of catechesis - in the rooms of the Community is carried out. “Catechist” refers to - as is usually the case in Germany - full-time or part-time teachers for the subject of religious studies. Explicitly congregational catechetical concepts that include the congregation and its members as subjects of the teaching / learning process (Protestant: "congregational pedagogy") exist at best in the context of the catechesis of the sacraments, most of all within concepts of firm preparation in adolescence (confirmation with / from 17 / 18).

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Fides per doctrinam , Apostolic Letter from Pope Benedict XVI. from January 16, 2013 (English), online at

Web links

Wiktionary: Catechesis  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations