Basic Tenets of Catholicism

Basic Tenets of Catholicism

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The center of the Catholic faith

The basic tenets of Catholicism are the fundamental beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church.

Are you looking for a quick & simple guide to basic Catholicism? Here’s a primer on Catholic Church doctrine — the essential tenets of Catholicism.

The scope of these tenets of Catholicism

The four categories of the full content of the Catholics church:

  • Basic beliefs (the faith itself)
  • How to live (morality)
  • How Catholics worship (liturgy)
  • Prayer

This page and its related articles covers the first of those points — the tenets of Catholicism are the basics beliefs of the faith.

Other articles here at cover the other three categories of the Catholic faith, as well as provide more information that’s important to the beginning Catholic. You can also look to other reliable guides for learning the faith — see my suggestions at the end of this article.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains a full description of the tenets of Catholicism — the essential and basic beliefs in Catholicism. It defines the points of unity for Catholics. (Click here to read the tenets of Catholicism in the Vatican’s online Catechism.)Every Catholic should have a copy of the Catechism. You may not read it cover to cover, but you’ll want to use it as a reference for learning about your faith. (It is pretty readable, though, and a lot of ordinary Catholics do read it to get a full understanding of the tenets of Catholicism.)

There are more readable sources available.

At the end of this article is a list of other reliable guides to the Catholic faith. I strongly encourage you to read some of them!

  • Alan Schreck’s The Essential Catholic Catechism is my top recommendation for learning the basic beliefs in Catholicism.
  • Leo Trese’s The Faith Explained is a very close second to Schreck’s book. In fact, you should read both if you can do so: they are very different and complement each other quite well.
  • I’ve added detailed reviews of these books at the end of this article. Check them out!

Creeds: Summary of the faith

From its earliest days, the Church used brief summaries to describe an outline of its most essential beliefs.

These summaries are called “creeds”, from the Latin credo, meaning “I believe.” They are also called “professions of faith,” since they summarize the faith that Christians profess.

The Catholic Church uses two very old creeds regularly as a part of its liturgy and other prayers. There are a number of other Catholic creeds as well.

The older Apostles Creed is brief and simple. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church at Rome. (See Catechism, 194.)

The longer Catholic Nicene Creed contains some additional language explaining our belief in the Trinity.

Another ancient & traditional creed is commonly called the Athanasian Creed, since it was originally attributed to St. Athanasius, who died in 373 A.D. (This creed is no longer officially attributed to him.) It is also called the Quicumque vult, after its first words in Latin. This beautiful creed contains a detailed meditation on the nature of the Trinity.

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