A number of very good questions and answers on this site refer to specifically Catholic doctrine or terminology. I've been one to ask for clarification on these terms at times, however I think it's clear that asking for clarification every time I see a Catholic term I'm not familiar with will drag this site down rather quickly (as well as make me look like I have nothing better to do than ask the same type of question repeatedly).

Can someone (hopefully a Catholic!) recommend a good resource (preferably online) that explains common Catholic terminology in an accurate and respectful manner, to someone from a non-Catholic background?

If we get some good answers, I'll probably suggest this question for site FAQ inclusion.


The Catholic Encyclopedia is a public domain Encyclopedia compiled in the early 20th century. Since not a lot has changed in the last hundred years, it's a pretty excellent resource.

Beyond that, if you want something that'll overload your senses, you can check out the intratext search of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The other thing that might come up (and hopefully not here) is that we'll use awful acronyms like LG (Lumen Gentium), DV (Dei Verbum) and CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) or CCCC (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church) to reference some important texts or encyclicals. For these I've only seen good glossaries for these in the backs of print books, like the Catechism, and not a complete list, just the ones referenced within, but in the Catechism that's like everything from the Apostolic Father's on.

Finally, I just found this site http://www.catholicreference.net/ so I'm super glad you asked because I'm going to link to it all the time from now on!

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  • I use Catholic encyclopedia a lot. I think it is a great place to start – deps_stats Sep 30 '11 at 19:02
  • @PeterTurner Perhaps add this to your answer: THE HOLY SEE – user13992 Jul 24 '14 at 18:35

Catholic Answers is a great reference site as well. I have found many answers in their public forums. They are usually moderated by well-known apologists.

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  • They also have a link to the Original Catholic Encyclopedia complete with search functionality. – TKTS Sep 30 '11 at 20:57
  • A forum where a priest answers whether x or y is a sin instead of sending the one inquiring to the confessional is causing damage than helping. – user13992 Jul 24 '14 at 18:33

This looks like a really good place to go to learn about Catholicism and it looks rather expansive. I would imagine that it would also be a really good and useful tool for looking up a lot of generic religious terms. The articles seem to be rather expansive and exhaustive.

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