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All About Mary

Magisterial Documents: Guidelines on Doctrine for Catechetical Materials

National Council of Catholic Bishops

Brief History

Eleven years after Sharing the Light of Faith and Catechesi Tradendae the United States National Council of Catholic Bishops [NCCB] published a document in 1990 that provided a set of guidelines for "doctrinally sound catechetical materials." The guidelines recall the mandate of the second Vatican Council in Christus Dominus 13 and 14, particularly the bishops' responsibilities regarding "the use of publications and 'various other media of communication' that are helpful in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ." (p. 429)

This set of guidelines is specially directed to publishers of textbooks, to assist them in writing and evaluating their own materials before submitting these materials to the local bishop for review. There are eighty-seven articles using a wide range of documents from the post-Vatican II period as sources. For the Marian articles the Guidelines on Doctrine for Catechetical Materials used Lumen Gentium, the General Catechetical Directory, and Sharing the Light of Faith. The Guidelines on Doctrine for Catechetical Materials is a highly compact and practical document that could be likened to a checklist of items to be used when writing catechetical materials. There are four articles under the heading, "Mary and the Saints." An overview of the eighty- seven articles of the Guidelines on Doctrine for Catechetical Materials seem to indicate articles, over and above those specified, which also include or could include Marian doctrine.

Guidelines on Doctrine for Catechetical Materials does not add new elements to Marian catechesis. However, it is the first among the United States documents to clearly state that Mary's intercession is to be taught. The guidelines stress Marian catechesis in the context of the communion of saints, an element evident already in Lumen Gentium 50 (which treats of the communion of saints) and Sharing the Light of Faith 106 (which is preceded by the title, Part I: Mary and the Saints), but is less clearly stated in previous documents. The guidelines intended to incorporate teachings from recent papal encyclicals. This it does in the Marian teachings by including the description of Mary as a "disciple par excellence."( GDCM 35)The Guidelines on Doctrine for Catechetical Materials was presented at a time when drafts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church were already circulating. Within three years (1993), the English translation of the catechism would be on the market. Even so, the usefulness of these guidelines continued since they retained the value of summarizing catechetical principles and methodology in a fresh approach for a new generation of authors and editors.


I. Guidelines for Doctrinally Sound Catechetical Materials
General Doctrinal Content, 1-9
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 10-17
Church, 18-33
Mary and the Saints, 34-37
Liturgy and Sacraments, 38-50
Life of Grace and Moral Life, 51-67
Death, Judgment and Eternity, 68-69
II. Guidelines for Presenting Sound Doctrine (teaching methods), 70-87


NCCB, Guidelines on Doctrine for Catechetical Materials [GDCM],
Origins, 20:27 (13 Dec 1990): 429-436.

© 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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