Recently, in a comment, Cardinal Pole suggested that Catechisms are not binding magisterial documents. [Actually, as in the comment below, this was an error of recollection on my part. It was Kiran in dialogue with the Cardinal and not the Cardinal in dialogue with Kiran who made this point. I should have checked my sources. Somewhere I got the commentators jumbled.] I asked another commentator, Kiran Newman [in fact, I was asking the person who originally asserted it – see below], what he thought of this, and this was his response:
For instance, the stance of the CCC on Capital Punishment us debated frequently in traddie circles, and I don’t think that constitutes rebellion, even if I think those who disagree with the disagreers. But then again, I am loath to multiply the number of binding instruments. The Catechism is, I think, authoritative, without being binding. Too nice a distinction? Or maybe, the Catechism can be seen as a kind of indication of what the Church in her concrete historical circumstances, is thinking. She can change her mind and has done so on what is in the Catechisms, while she cannot contradict herself on doctrine. I think one can however be required not to teach against the Catechism, if the Church so chooses. But she doesn’t seem to do so in reality now. On the other hand, JPII says in publishing the current Catechism that it “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion.” He carefully avoids binding, but says everything else. In sum then, I do not know. A worthy question for your blog?
Sure is, so we are asking it.