History

 HomePublicationsREDVDs & CDsVatican DocsJobsMembershipDonations

The Catholic Truth Society is motivated today by that same desire that led to its foundation: to evangelise, to inform and to spread the Catholic faith through the ministry of the written word.The Catholic Truth Society was founded in 1868 at a time of rising literacy among the population of the British Isles. But it was a population composed overwhelmingly of poor, factory and industrial workers, not least among whom were Catholics, attracted to the booming industrial towns and the great earthworks that were to become Britain’s railway network. In such conditions, John Henry Newman’s call for a well-educated laity might seem an impossible dream. It was against such a backdrop that Herbert Vaughan, later to become Cardinal Vaughan, had the idea of printing cheap, accessible pamphlets about the Catholic faith. The society could publish only thanks to the support of donations from the Catholic public and this remains as true today as it ever was. The aims of the CTS were twofold: to instruct Catholics in their faith and to dissipate “popular prejudice and error” among non-Catholics. But when Vaughan was appointed Bishop of Salford in 1872, the activities of the society were temporarily interrupted. That the CTS was re-established was due almost entirely to the efforts of one man: James Britten. A convert to Catholicism, Britten had been impressed by cheap tracts which had been published by an Anglican organisation and resolved to so the same in his new home that was the Catholic Church. Britten contacted Vaughan and it was decided to re-establish the Catholic Truth Society in 1884. Parish bookstalls were set up by an enthusiastic network of supporters and helpers. Worthy of mention is the CTS retail bookshop close to Westminster Cathedral, which has remained in its location to the present day. In addition, various other Catholic Truth Societies were set up, not just in Britain and Ireland but also in places as far away as Canada and Australia. Among the first publications was the Simple Prayer Book. Since its introduction, it has now sold more than 16 million copies worldwide. The output was truly massive, and pamphlets appeared covering all aspects of the Catholic faith. Readers at this time were even encouraged to evangelise by leaving them on trains and buses once they had finished with them. Many pamphlets were more apologetic in tone, though during the 1930s the emphasis moved away from responding to non-Catholics to responding non-Christian opinion and movements such as Communism. This same desire to respond to major social, economic and other developments is today the motivation behind a new range of CTS Explanations which will address important ethical and moral questions which regularly make headline did the most to re-invigorate catholic biblical scholarship during the twentieth century. In 1964 Paul VI granted the title “Publishers to the Holy See” to the CTS, a distinction now unique among publishing houses. The Second Vatican Council and post-conciliar period provided an opportunity for the CTS to publish the many documents relating to the renewal of the Church and her message to the world. And in more recent times, the CTS has renewed its commitment to the field of education, with its successful Exploring the Mass video resource which the late Cardinal Basil Hume helped to prepare. And not unworthy of mention is this very website, which far from diminishing the printed word, promises to bring the work of the Catholic Truth Society to the attention of people all over the world.

Pictures from the top page:

Cardinal H Vaughan  founder of the original Catholic Truth Society

James Britten, who re-established the Society and dominated its proceeding for nearly forty years.

Tom Rittner presents Pius XII  a special copy of the Douay Bible, 1956, in the company of Monsignor Cuthbert Collingwood. 

Cardinal  Hume late President of the Catholic Truth Society.  

Most Rev Peter D Smith, Archbishop of Cardiff Chairman of the Catholic Truth Society.