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The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism (Idiot's Guides) Paperback – March 4, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mary DeTurris Poust, is an award-winning columnist, journalist, and author who has focused on Catholic issues for more than two decades. She is the author of Parenting a Grieving Child and is currently a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor. Her monthly column "Life Lines" has been published in Catholic New York since 2001.
David I. Fulton, S.T.D., J.C.D., a priest of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, holds doctorates in theology and canon law, and is on the faculty of St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore.
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Product Details

  • Series: Idiot's Guides
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: ALPHA (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592577075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592577071
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This is the first book I've bought in either the Idiot's Guide or Dummies Guide series. Those phrases have always raised concerns for me about whether the books are accurate and at least somewhat serious.

Although I bought the Guide to the Catholic Catechism as a possible reference book, and so have not read it cover to cover, I have dipped into a number of sections and have found it to take its subjects seriously, even while being written in an accessible, conversational way. In other words, you will learn a lot without feeling like you are working at it.

Another plus, important to me, is that every section I have read seems straightforward and free of bias. I could not tell you if the author is a liberal or a conservative. (As someone involved in Catholic education, I was happy to see that the book has an imprimatur, meaning that it is not contrary to defined Catholic doctrine.)

In short, I very much like what I have seen, and would recommend this guide as a personal reference tool or a tool for the classroom.
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Format: Paperback
We are grateful that the publishers of the Complete Idiot's Guide has finally shown enough respect for Catholicism to have a book done which actually conforms to the Catechism. Rather than seeing Father David Fulton and Mary DeTurris Poust as 'rival' authors, we consider them colleagues and compliment them on their book. As Pope Benedict XVI often points out, Catholicism is the religion of the great 'et ... et' (which translates from Latin into: "both ... and") rather than a religion of 'aut ... aut' (either ... or). Therefore, any author and any book which defends orthodox doctrine and any author who is loyal to the Magisterium is on the same side, i.e., the side of truth. We are NOT competing against one another. ALL authors and books which faithfully explain the accurate teachings of Catholicism should work TOGETHER to refute and repudiate the errors being proliferated by heterodox sources and from dissenting theologians.

BOTH "Catholicism for Dummies" AND the "Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism" have imprimaturs AND BOTH serve the common good in evangelization and catechesis. The dichotomy is rather between those authors and books faithful to the Magisterium and those which are disloyal. EITHER orthodox OR heterodox since something is EITHER true or it is false. We wish to congratulate Mary and Fr. David for doing a book on the Catechism. Doing so does not conflict with our pride in our recent work "Catholicism Answer Book: 300 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions" since we sincerely believe our books complement the 'Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism.
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Format: Paperback
I recently read The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism by Mary DeTurris Poust with theological advisor Fr. David Fulton STD, JCD. Like other books in the Complete Idiot's Guide and Dummies series they present a subject on a beginners level in a somewhat lighthearted way.

Since this one is on the Catholic Catechism itself it is really an introduction to the Catholic faith for beginners along with and introduction explaining the Catechism and the format. For many the size of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is daunting and some might find the language used to be difficult so there will always be a place for a smaller catechism. I remember when I first came across a small catechism at the library written by a source I don't remember, though the experience of reading even these short explanations of the Catholic faith had quite an effect on my life and got me to accept some sins that I up to that point I would have rather have not learned were sins. So I can certainly see how important even a shorter treatment of the Catechism can be.

I found the Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism to be totally in conformance with the Catholic faith and presented the faith quite well. There are plenty of sidebars to further explain words and concepts likely to be unfamiliar to the reader as is common with these types of books. It is also written in a manner easy to read and she uses some humor in her explanations. Though she does not let the humor get in the way and mainly keeps to explaining the various paragraphs of the Catechism. As you would expect there are paragraph reference numbers to the Catechism throughout the book.
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Format: Paperback
Mary DeTurris Poust has lived up to the promise of this book; it indeed contains "the core teachings of Catholicism in plain English." She explains each section of the catechism in simple prose that doesn't condescend to her readers. At 260-odd pages, one could easily and profitably spend a week or so with this book and come away with a comprehensive understanding of the Faith.

That said, some of the text-box asides are problematic. The "True Confessions" comment for Holy Orders takes a reflexively defensive posture about the all-male priesthood, and explains that women "have always held positions of power within the Church." Should the attainment of power really be held up as a path to follow? In the same text-box, the author explains that "many sisters and lay women and men are administrators of parishes, taking care of most of the nonsacramental work of a local church." Actually, the rise of parish administrators is at odds with canon law and Church teaching. In 1999, the Congregation for the Clergy and seven other dicasteries decreed that "the non-ordained faithful do not enjoy a right to such tasks and functions" and that they should only be performed in extraordinary circumstances ("Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest.")

Likewise, in one of the early chapters, there is a discussion of how the Church's catechetical establishment moved away from the use of Q&A-style catechisms in the aftermath of Vatican II. (Fans of the time-tested Baltimore Catechism are said to be "traditional Catholics, who prefer the old time religion.
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