Friday, September 29, 2023

The Second Vatican Council prescribed that a “Directory for the catechetical instruction of the Christian people”[1] be drawn up. On March 18, 1971, St Paul VI approved the General Catechetical Directory prepared by the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, a directory that is still the basic document for encouraging and guiding catechetical renewal throughout the Church. Previously this function had been fulfilled by the question and answer formula of the Roman Catechism (1566) and all its descendants and variants.

The Directory for Catechesis (2020), like its predecessors, is in response to major events and trends in the Church and the world so as to keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ relevant.

[1] Second Vatican Council, Decree on the pastoral office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus (28 October 1965)

1971: General Catechetical Directory was created in an effort to systematize the teachings of the Second Vatican Council for catechesis.
1997: General Directory for Catechesis was created in response to the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992).
2020: Directory for Catechesis was created in response to the New Evangelization, disaffiliation, globalization, digital culture.

The distinctive feature of this Directory is the close connection between evangelization and catechesis. Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Guadium provides the inspiration for the new Directory. The goal of the Directory is to “present the intimate connection between the announcement of the kerygma and its maturation.” (Preface)

This is underscored by the clear break in tradition of the publishing source of the document. The shift from Congregation of the Clergy to the Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization is not just a bureaucratic shell game. Pope Francis is determined to:

…mark out the path that admits no excuses in the daily commitment of believers to evangelization… There are no alibies that can take the focus away from a responsibility that belongs to every single believer and the whole church. The close connection between evangelization and catechesis therefore becomes the distinctive feature of the Directory. (Directory for Catechesis, preface)

The implication is that every Catholic has the mission to announce the good news!

Which is why this document is so important to those of us involved in Catholic education.

We encourage you to let us know what you learn along the transition journey so that it can help in our work with other schools. To share your story or for more information please contact MACS at


The Language of Catechesis
Key Points from the Directory
Catholic Social Teaching and the Directory