One of the ground principles of Cathopedia is its encyclopedic style.
An entry of an encyplopedia describes the content of the entry, by trying to understand underlying causes, effects and context: starting from a dictionary definition, it further elaborates it by delving into all aspects of a topic.
The Encylopedic style
Cathopedia's Encyclopedic style can be best described in these terms:
An important feature of encyclopedic style is objectivity. Cathopedia's entries expose potentially contentious issues in an objective style. The Roman Catholic Church favors using and over or, or the adversative and not. For instance, it is said that "Church is universal and singular", not that "the Church is universal and not singular". No theologian may claim that his view on a given theologic or pastoral issue is the only one allowed. The History of the Church has shown the existence of a wide variety of opinions and that such variety may be the result of context and cultural diversity.
To get a better grasp of objectivity, one may think of the way a reporter tells the news: he or she relates fact, opinion, events; he refrains from expressing his personal views, or has someone else voice them for him). He deals with bare fact.
Much in the same way, Cathopedia must not express itself on the views of this or that theologian, group or movement, or teaching of the Church. It just gives an objective account of those views, giving reasons for each of them. Everything not falling withing the Official Teaching of the Church is thus reported objectively.
For instance, one cannot say that
|« The Holy Communion is given on the hands. »|
which IS opinion, not fact, because the Church gave it only in the mouth for a long time. This should be rather phrased as: Today's
|« La liturgy has resumed the ancient use of giving the Holy Bread to its faithful on the hand in addition to its giving it in the mouth. »|
A fact is best given this way.
Referencing an article
Being work in progress, Cathopedia will remain, in the best of intentions, a secondary source pointing to primary, authoritative, sources.
Every entry has its own bibliography: sources and futher reading material. Statements as are not self-evident must be appropriately referenced.
Statements concerning the Bible must be referenced by their biblical excerpts. This is both important with a specific statement referring to a given Biblical teaching stated in a few lines and more detailed, individual statements. Given the importance of referencing every such statement, such reference shall be either given in brackets, or when necessary, on a footnote
Authoritative and reliable web reference may also be used in its specific web reference section.
"Being encyclopedic" is about arranging content with clarity and precision. All entries come with a incipit link to help the reader understands the essential, underlying meaning of every article. Content is also arranged into sections and sub-sections. A section's title states clearly what the content is about. Similarly, sections group all related contents that relate to each other semantically or chronologically. Material must be so arranged to avoid confusion between sub-contents.
A typical scheme of a theologic entry might be as follows:
- Biblical roots, with a subdivision between New and Old Testament
- Views by the Fathers of the Church, in chronological order
- How the subject is viewed by the Teachings of the Roman Catholic Church
- Questions debated
- Ecumenical aspects
A pope's biography might be as follows:
- Place of origin and academic background
- His history as priest and bishop
- This Pope's teachings
There is no unified scheme or pattern in subject-matter treatment in that content-specific peculiarities may affect the way an entry is explained.
Because paper size is physically defined, entries of a printed-paper encyclopedia must conform to limitations given by the editor. An online encyclopedia has no such problems.
However deeply a subject in delved into, there may always be something more to explain, such a missing detail, a sentence or paragraph to resize...no entry is ever definitive. In theory, further treatment of an article may go on indefinitely.
However, in order to facilitate reading, Cathopedia makes longer texts into new entries
Stili non enciclopedici
It is also important to understand the encyclopedic style as opposed to other styles:
- Cathechetical style: a cathechesis does not only inform but involve its audience by way of illustration, emphasis or other means; it aims at increasing faith.
- Homiletic Style. Even more than Cathechesis, homily is supposed, rather than just inform, to involve its audience and edify their faith and life.
- The News Style: a news article describes an event, in a language as gets a reader's immediate attention, sometimes using irony and wit.
- Propaganda style: even more than these, propaganda aims primarily at getting a listener or reader to embrace an idea, a project, a party, movement or group or having them understand its reasons underlying it.
- Agiographic style: when sketcing the biography of a person or saint, agiography often indulges in hyberboles or exaggeration as may help readers better understand that person's life, work and words.
"Might this text be found on a printed encyclopedia?" Cathopedia's entry should be able to answer this question in the positive.