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Magisterial Documents: Basic Teachings for Catholic Religious Education

Magisterial Documents: Basic Teachings for Catholic Religious Education

The National Council of Catholic Bishops
11 January 1973

Brief History

In Spring of 1971, the General Catechetical Directory mandated by Vatican II was published in Rome. The English edition was published by the United States Catholic Conference by December. By November of the following year, 1972, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops [NCCB] had released a message titled, To Teach as Jesus Did: A Pastoral Message on Catholic Education. This was the first pastoral in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States to be devoted only to religious education. The document builds mainly on Vatican II's Gravissimum educationis, the Declaration on Christian Education, but it also draws on the General Catechetical Directory. This document is mentioned here because it was considered a landmark in American catechetical methodology and was meant to be a partner to a document on catechetical content published less than two months later. That document, Basic Teachings for Catholic Religious Education, includes Marian teaching. It was meant as an implementation in the United States of the General Catechetical Directory, and was prepared in consultation with the Catechetical Office of the Holy See.

Basic Teachings was essentially an interim document. The United States had begun preparation of its own National Catechetical Directory as a consequence of the universal General Catechetical Directory in 1971, but this would not be forthcoming until 1979.

Three themes – prayer, liturgy, and scripture – are in Basic Teachings the framework with which to study all catechetical themes, including the person and role of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first mention of Mary is in the introductory section on prayer and the second is in article 24, which gives the basic catechetical teaching on Mary that was to be included in official teachings about her.


Basic Teachings for Catholic Religious Education

The Mystery of the One God Father, Son, Holy Spirit

True Worship of God in a World Which Ignores Him

Knowledge of God and the Witness of Christian Love

Jesus Christ, Son of God, The Firstborn of All Creation and Savior

Creation, the Beginning of the History of Man's Salvation

Jesus Christ, the Center of All God's Saving Works

Jesus Christ, True Man and True God in the Unity of the Divine Person

Jesus Christ, Savior and Redeemer of the World

The Holy Spirit in the Church and in the Life of the Christian

The Sacraments, Actions of Christ in the Church
(The Universal Sacrament)

Religious Instruction on the Sacraments

The Eucharist, Center of All Sacramental Life

The Sacrament of Matrimony

The New Man in the Spirit

Human and Christian Freedom

The Sins of Man

The Moral Life of Christians

The Perfection of Christian Love

Specifics in the Teaching of Morality

The Church, People of God and Institution for Salvation

The Church as a Community

The Quest for Unity

The Church as the Institution for Salvation

Mary, Mother of God, Mother and Model of the Church

Final Reunion with God


The National Council of Catholic Bishops
January 11, 1973

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2005.

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