New Catholic Encyclopedia

The New Catholic Encyclopedia (NCE) is a multi-volume reference work on Roman Catholic history and belief edited by the faculty of The Catholic University of America. It was intended by the faculty to become, like its predecessor the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia, a standard reference work for students, teachers, librarians, journalists, and general readers interested in the history, doctrine, practices, and people of the Catholic faith. However, unlike its predecessor, it also contained more general articles on science, education, and the liberal arts.[1] The NCE was originally published by McGraw-Hill in 1967. A second edition, which gave up the articles more reminiscent of a general encyclopedia,[1] was published in 2002[2] and was listed as one of the Library Journal's "Best Reference Sources" for 2003.[3]

First edition

The original Catholic Encyclopedia was published between 1907 and 1914, first by the Robert Appleton Company, which was specifically created for that purpose, and then by its successor The Encyclopedic Press Inc. Supplements to the Catholic Encyclopedia were published in 1922 and in 1958. In 1960, the Catholic University of America, in collaboration with the McGraw-Hill Book Company, began work on what was planned as an entirely new encyclopedia, and seven years later (in 1967) published the 15-volume New Catholic Encyclopedia (NCE1). Supplemental volumes for it appeared in 1974, 1979, 1989, and 1996.

Second edition

A second edition of the NCE, incorporating material from the original edition and its supplements, along with further additions and revisions, was published by Gale Publishing, a Thomson company, in 2002. It was published in fourteen volumes, with the fifteenth volume being a cumulative index to the entire encyclopedia.[2] Later supplemental volumes appeared for this 2nd edition.

In addition to the hundreds of new signed articles on a wide variety of topics, the second edition also featured biographies of contemporary religious figures; thousands of photographs, maps and illustrations; and some updated bibliographical citations. The photographs remained black and white.[4]


The second edition (NCE2) received mixed reviews. While applauding the effort,[4] reviewers found the updating to be spotty, for example, many bibliographies were not updated, new notable buildings were omitted, and important new research results were not included.[1] In addition, a large number of articles and 3.5 million words that appeared in NCE1 were omitted entirely.[5] An editor, Berard Marthaler, said that the reduction in size "had to be done with a meat cleaver, not a scalpel."[2] Controversial subjects were, to some extent, avoided in the second edition, for example as Jan Malcheski and Herman Sutter both noted in their reviews, an article from the 1996 NCE supplement on pedophilia was omitted in the NCE2.[1][4][5] The tone of the multi-author work was also variable, from older, scholarly articles such as the one on "Aristotle", to those pitched for a more general audience such as the article on "Joy".[4]

Supplementation for the second edition

Too late for inclusion in the encyclopedia, in 2001, in collaboration with the Catholic University of America, Gale published Jubilee Volume: The Wojtyla Years which focuses on the pontificate of John Paul II and included thematic essays that covered the man and his work under such headings as: "The Papacy of John Paul II", "Church Documents", "People and Places", "Institutions and Events" and "Saints and Blesseds". Some of this material appeared in later supplements, notably the 2010 supplement.

In the summer of 2006, the publisher, Gale, together with the Catholic University of America Press, developed a plan for ongoing updating of the second edition in both print and electronic (eBook) formats.[6] The updating plan indicated a special focus on the United States. The planned new entries included biographies as well as articles on movements, organizations, documents and ideas that are either Catholic or of special interest to Catholics.

The first of these New Catholic Encyclopedia supplemental volumes, Supplement 2009 was published electronically in June 2009 and in print in November 2009. It focused on the theme of "Science and the Church", and contained such new articles as the ones on Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud.[7] It also updated the articles on the Catholic Church in each of the fifty States, as well as the 33 US archdiocese articles.

Supplement 2010, published in June 2010 focused on the theme "Church in Modern History", with particular emphasis on World War II and thereafter. It included about 200 entries on those beatified or canonized since 2003. Most of the beatified are new entries, while most of the Saints are revisions of previous articles, although overall the 2010 supplement had more new entries than revised (updated) ones.

Supplement 2011 focused on the theme "Church and the Arts and Music"; among its new article were one the sex abuse crisis and one on Pope Benedict XVI, as well as new entries on St. Mary Helen McKillop (1842–1907) and St. Andre Bessette (1845–1937).[8]

"Ethics and Philosophy" was the theme for the 2012 supplement.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Rubinstein, Ernest H. (2004). "The 'new' New Catholic Encyclopedia: something lost--3.5 million words--something gained?". Commonweal. 131 (18): 22 ff.
  2. 1 2 3 "Publication of the 2002 New Catholic Encyclopedia". The Order of Friars Minor Conventual. 5 November 2002. Archived from the original on 27 June 2003.
  3. Coutts, Brian E. & McConnell, Tamara (2004). "Best Reference 2003". Library Journal. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Sutter, Herman (2003). "New Catholic Encyclopedia". School Library Journal. 49 (2): 91.
  5. 1 2 Malcheski, Jan (June 2003). "ATLANTIS Reference Reviews: New Catholic Encyclopedia". American Theological Library Association. Archived from the original on 31 August 2003.
  7. Trsico, Robert (2010). "New Catholic Encyclopedia". The Catholic Historical Review. 96 (4): 873. A review of the 2009 supplement.
  8. "New Catholic encyclopedia supplement 2011; 2v.". Reference & Research Book News. October 2011. Archived from the original on Jan 28, 2013.

Further reading

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