Pope Benedict recommends the Youth Catechism

YOUCAT, an abbreviation for the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church,  is a 300-page volume, written for high-school age people and young adults and designed to teach them the ABC’s of Catholicism using a language tailored to their generation, as CNA reported. It was produced under the guidance of Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, Austria, who also served as the editor of the universal 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, and will be officially released on the 1th. of March. According to the description of Ignatius Press, where the English version is published,

“the popular format includes Questions-and-Answers, highly-readable commentary, margin pictures and illustrations, summary definitions of key terms, Bible citations, and quotes from the Saints and other great teachers. What’s more, YOUCAT is keyed to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so people can go deeper. It explains:

  • What Catholics believe (doctrine)
  • How they celebrate the mysteries of the faith (sacraments)
  • How Catholics are to live (moral life)
  • How they should pray (prayer and spirituality)

The questions are direct and honest, even at times tough; the answers straightforward, relevant, and compelling. After the Bible, YOUCAT will likely become the “go-to” place for young people to learn the truth about the Catholic faith. Pope Benedict XVI wrote the foreword; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the editor of YOUCAT and the Archbishop of Vienna, Austria, wrote the afterword.”

We reproduce here the promising preface written by Pope Benedict (Source: Sandro Magister):

“I RECOMMEND TO YOU THE READING OF AN EXTRAORDINARY BOOK”

by Benedict XVI

Dear young friends! Today I recommend to you the reading of an extraordinary book. It is extraordinary for its content, but also for the way in which it was composed, which I would like to explain to you briefly so that you may understand its uniqueness.

“YouCat” took its origin, so to speak, from another work that dates back to the 1980’s. This was a difficult period for the Church as for society worldwide, during which the need arose for new directions to find a way toward the future. After Vatican Council II (1962-1965) and in the changed cultural climate, many people no longer knew correctly what Christians should really believe, what the Church taught, if it could teach anything “tout court,” and how all this could be adapted to the new cultural climate.

Isn’t Christianity as such outdated? Can one still reasonably be a believer today? These are questions that many Christians still ask themselves today. So Pope John Paul II resolved on an audacious decision: he decided that the bishops of the whole world should write a book responding to these questions.

He entrusted to me the task of coordinating the work of the bishops, and of making sure that the contributions of the bishops would give rise to a book: I mean a real book, not a mere juxtaposition of a multiplicity of texts. This book was to bear the traditional title of “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” and yet be something absolutely stimulating and new; it was to show what the Catholic Church believes today and how one can believe in a reasonable manner.

I was frightened by this task, and I must confess that I doubted that such a thing could succeed. How could it happen that authors scattered all over the world could produce a readable book? How could men living on different continents, and not only from a geographical point of view, but also intellectually and culturally, produce a text endowed with inner unity and comprehensible on all the continents?

To this was added the fact that the bishops had to write not simply as individual authors, but as representatives of their confreres and of their local Churches.

I must confess that even today, it seems like a miracle to me that this project succeeded in the end. We met three or four times a year for one week, and we passionately discussed the individual portions of text that had been produced in the meantime.

The first thing we had to do was to define the structure of the book: it had to be simple, so that the individual groups of authors could be given a clear task and would not have to force their statements into a complicated system.

It is the same structure as that of this book. This is simply taken from a catechetical experience going back centuries: what we believe, how we celebrate the Christian mysteries, how we have life in Christ; how we should pray.

I do not want to explain now how we grappled with the great quantity of questions, until a real book came out. In a work of this kind, many points are questionable: everything that men do is insufficient and can be improved, and nonetheless this is a great book, a sign of unity in diversity. Starting with many voices, it was possible to form a choir, because we had the common score of the faith, which the Church has handed down to us from the apostles through the centuries up until today.

Why all of this?

Already back then, at the time of the drafting of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” we had to take note that not only are the continents and the cultures of their peoples different, but also within the individual societies there exist different “continents”: the laborer has a mentality different from that of the farmer, and a physique different from that of a philologist; an entrepreneur different from that of a journalist, a young man different from that of an elderly man. For this reason, in language and thought, we had to rise above all of these differences, and as it were seek out common ground between the different mental universes. With that, we became more and more aware of how the text required “translations” in the different worlds, in order to be able to reach people with their different mentalities and different problems.

Since then, at the World Youth Days (Rome, Toronto, Cologne, Sydney), young people from all over the world have met who want to believe, who are seeking God, who love Christ and desire common paths. In this context, we asked ourselves if we must not seek to translate the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” into the language of the young, and make its words penetrate into their world. Naturally, there are also many differences among the young people of today; and so, under the proven leadership of the archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, a “YouCat” was created for young people. I hope that many young people let themselves be fascinated by this book.

Some people tell me that today’s young people are not interested in the catechism; but I do not believe in this statement, and I am sure that I am right. They are not as superficial as they are accused of being; young people want to know what life is really about. A crime novel is compelling because the fate it draws us into is that of other people, but could be our own; this book is compelling because it speaks to us of our very destiny and therefore concerns each of us intimately.

For this reason I invite you: study the catechism! This is my heartfelt wish.

This supplement to the catechism does not flatter you; it does not offer easy solutions; it demands a new life on your part; it presents you with the message of the Gospel like the “pearl of great price” (Matthew 13:45) for which everything must be given. And so I ask you: study the catechism with passion and perseverance! Sacrifice your time for this! Study it in the silence of your room, read it with someone else, if you are friends, form groups and study networks, exchange ideas on the internet. In whatever way, remain in dialogue on your faith!

You must know what you believe; you must know your faith with the same precision with which a programming specialist knows the operating system of a computer; you must know it like a musician knows his piece. Yes, you must be much more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents, in order to be able to resist forcefully and decisively against the temptations of this time.

You need divine help, if your faith does not want to dry up like a drop of dew in the sun, if you do not want to succumb to the temptations of consumerism, if you do not want your love to drown in pornography, if you do not want to betray the weak and the victims of abuse and violence.

If you dedicate yourselves with passion to the study of the catechism, I would still like to give you one last bit of advice: you all know how the community of believers has recently been wounded by the attacks of evil, by the penetration of sin inside, even into the heart of the Church. Do not take this as a pretext to flee from the presence of God; you yourselves are the body of Christ, the Church! Carry intact the flame of your love in this Church every time that men have obscured its face. “Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

When Israel was at the darkest point of its history, God called to help not the great and respected persons, but a young man named Jeremiah; Jeremiah felt charged with a mission that was too great: “‘Ah, Lord God!’ I said, ‘I know not how to speak; I am too young’.” (Jeremiah 1:6). But God did not let himself be dissuaded: “Say not, ‘I am too young’. To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak” (Jeremiah 1:7).

I bless you and pray for all of you every day.

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38 Responses to Pope Benedict recommends the Youth Catechism

  1. Brother Burrito says:

    Thanks be to God for this initiative!

    It comes not a moment too soon–the need for re-catechesis in the decadent west is urgent.

  2. mmvc says:

    Hear, hear, BB!
    Let’s hope and pray that this valuable resource will be successfully promoted amongst young Catholics and incorporated into RE classes in all Catholic schools.

  3. mmvc says:

    And thank God for soon-to-be-blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI!

  4. golden chersonnese says:

    Not absolutely off topic, but thought possibly this video about the reconstruction of the cathedral in Bunbury, Western Australia might give us some cheer.

    I know it made me feel cheery. It might have been the use of Parry’s “Jerusalem”(wasn’t that the hymn banned from Southwark (CofE) Cathedral by the Dean there?)? Or that they said the new cathedral is designed to stand for several hundred years at least? That seemed an expression of great hope.

    Bunbury is 100 miles south of Perth on Geographe Bay and is said to be in the fastest-growing area in Australia. I hear quite a few expatriate British professionals retire in the general area. Maybe the golf clubhouse is good?

    The original cathedral was severely damaged by a tornado in May 2005 and required demolition.

    Oh well, here’s hope for the future! It’s touching video.

    http://www.bunburycatholic.org.au/cathedral-precinct/rebuilding-the-cathedral-dvd.html

  5. golden chersonnese says:

    There’s a video about the old cathedral of the Bunbury diocese too.

    http://www.bunburycatholic.org.au/st-patrick-s-cathedral/st-patricks-reflections.html

  6. kathleen says:

    I can’t wait to get my hands on some copies of this book. It sounds like the ideal tool for anyone who has dealings in catechising the young.

  7. golden chersonnese says:

    I apologise if my posts were too far off the topic. I in all honesty thought they were not. Just as the new Youth Catechism is building spiritually for the future, so I felt the contruction of a new cathedral was just like it and enlivens our hope and that Catholics would like to hear of it.

    I think my lord +Gerard Holohan of Bunbury will consecrate the new cathedral on the feast of St Patrick this year, that is, in a little more than a month’s time.

    http://cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=24952

    Alleluia! The Lord is in His Holy Temple.
    Alleluia! The Lord is here to bless.
    Alleluia! Amen

  8. kathleen says:

    Golden Chersonnese:

    No, it’s not really off topic. Your first link talked about the Catholic education of the young in the ill-fated Cathedral. What a tragedy for those good people of Banbury, losing their much-loved Cathedral from that terrible tornado! I hope the rebuilding of the new one will renew their hearts with hope.

  9. golden chersonnese says:

    Surely it will, Kathleen.

    This is the work of the Lord,
    A marvel in our eyes.
    This is the day of the Lord,
    We will rejoice and be glad.

  10. toadspittle says:

    .
    Toad is bemused.

    He would have thought that anything ludicrously called ‘YouCat’ would have been laughed bitterly to scorn and had derision and contumley heaped upon it from an exceptionally great height by CP&S – as an example of the detestably vulgar, dumbing -down, patronising, guitar-strumming, folk/hymn chanting, Sign of Peace sharing, idiocy dished out on an almost daily basis by post ‘Vat.2 Caths.’

    Toad can imagine (albeit barely) the eardrum-popping screams of rage and execration – had some ‘Liberal’ Catholic Group produced a document for young people with that name.

    Or is he wrong to think so?

    (But he bets its name will give kids a good laugh. Poor old Crumblies trying to be ‘trendy!’)

  11. toadspittle says:

    .
    (Cool for cats, innit?) Yer!

  12. toadspittle says:

    .
    “What a tragedy for those good people of Banbury, losing their much-loved Cathedral from that terrible tornado! “

    It is not for us to question or judge the machinations of God, Kathleen.
    No doubt He had his reasons.

  13. piliersdelaterre says:

    …Toad, it is fairly well known that Our Holy Father the Pope is a great admirer of the Feline (it marks a welcome improvement on the attitude of Mediaeval Christendom). This may go some way to explaining the title YouCat.

  14. toadspittle says:

    .
    Teresa might very well be right in suspecting that it were the kids themselves who dreamed up the name, ‘YouCat.’

    Youngsters often have an impish, anarchic, sense of humour.

  15. savvysrdc says:

    toadspittle,

    Youngsters also have great wisdom. I will let you in on a little secret. Orthodox Catholics traddies and all struggle with Catholicism as much as any other Catholic does. I won’t surprised if the Pope does too. We could all easily join some other church where we would be comfortable. This would defeat our whole purpose of existing. You see easy is boring, there’s no adventure in easy, easy does not involve courage. Sacrifice and self-denial are not easy, but we want the challenge of carrying our cross. Call us crazy, but we just do. People quit the church because they find it hard, others jump on board because we cannot live with easy. Athletes cannot win with easy, artists cannot live with easy , writers can’t either. These people have been eccentric, but not as eccentric as Catholic saints. Look at St. Therese of Liesuex, who at 15 travelled to Rome, to beg the Pope to let her join the strictest order in the Catholic church. She would not leave and had to be dragged out by Swiss guards.

  16. golden chersonnese says:

    Toad thinks: “What a tragedy for those good people of Banbury, losing their much-loved Cathedral from that terrible tornado! “

    It is not for us to question or judge the machinations of God, Kathleen.
    No doubt He had his reasons.

    Yes have a look here, Toad. The tornado thingy that hit the town looks positively diabolical!

    http://community.webshots.com/photo/fullsize/1354347472028977917ywsrDd

    What do you think, Toad?

    Do you think this^ would make a good visual representing either:

    a. the dark atheist whirlwind now attacking the church, or
    b. the state of current Catholic youth catechetics, or
    c. yes

  17. toadspittle says:

    .

    Golden:

    c. Yes.

    (Yes a tornado might indeed look diabolical, but is it? Toad thinks we should be told.)

    Savvsrdc says:

    “Youngsters also have great wisdom.” Indeed some might. Others, no.
    Toad did not, and still, at seventy, does not.

    Toad suspects Savvsrde is still young. Or he/she would not go actively seeking the ‘difficult’ and ‘uncomfortable.’ It, like death, will come unbidden.

    At Toad’s age, everything is not ‘easy’. He greatly appreciates Savvy’s somewhat patronising little homily, but fears it has come a shade too late in life to be of practical value.

    (Although, when young, Toad did indeed go seeking ‘adventure’, and ‘difficulty.’ (looking for the varmint, he and his friends called it,) and all-too-frequently found it.)

  18. manus2 says:

    … and Toad, look: what you sought in your youth, you’ve now become – the varmint.

    What a lovely little life lesson. Thanks everso, Toady.

    And another great picture from Golden. Where do you find them from?

  19. golden chersonnese says:

    Hello manus. But you really shouldn’t encourage Toad so. He doesn’t really need it. And I have the faintest suspicion that he had not the slightest notion that the varment he sought was in fact nothing more than a Toad.

    The picture, yes. I found it while looking up the story of the cathedral. There were some other pics even more infernal. I see we have a similar eye for the visually terrifying, manus. That must mean something.

    For those interested, here’s a story on the coming opening on St Patrick’s Day of the new cathedral of Bunbury from the Record, the news organ of the Archdiocese of Perth. The new cathedral will be tornado-proof!. Just as well as there is nothing but the entire expanse of the Indian Ocean between it and the east coast of Africa, all you landlubbers.

    http://www.therecord.com.au/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2188&Itemid=26

    Actually Perth’s Cathedral too (of the Immaculate Conception of St Mary) was completed and dedicated a little over a year ago. You can view a beautiful panorama of it here.

    http://www.therecord.com.au/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1445

    Archbishop Hickey of Perth is a very active orthodox bishop and the Record is always a good read. Recommended.

    Well, back to YouCat. Well hopeful stories of reconstruction and regeneration of both catechisms and cathedrals after savage tornadoes shook them from their foundations. The Church ever rebuilding itself for the centuries to come.

    I wonder if Toad might be wrong about those foxy old Crumblies in the Catechism office after all.

    Time will tell. 😉

  20. savvysrdc says:

    Toad,

    I do not actively seek the difficult and uncomfortable. Like, I said, I struggle with it as much as the next person, but I have nothing to gain from the easy. I learn nothing, it does not help me grow. The paradox is that I have not been happier.

  21. toadspittle says:

    .
    “Athletes cannot win with easy, artists cannot live with easy, writers can’t either. “

    savvysrdc, explains patiently, to Toad.
    As if Toad had never considered the lack of easiness involved in these callings. two of which he did for a living for half a century, and one he did for fun for some years (marathon running).

    Toad is tempted to ask just how old ‘savvy’ is. But that would be a trifle impertinent. So he will not.

  22. toadspittle says:

    .
    Golden Chersonnese,

    Indeed, a literally (for once) awsome tornado pic. If Toad were the preachy type, he might offer some theory that this is how the idea of God gets started.
    Somebody, or something, ‘up there’ is threatening, and often actually taking, our lives.
    Maybe, if we sacrifice something, or better still somebody – God might be moved to leave us alone!
    And so on and so on until we end up with the magnificently-named ‘YouCat.’
    Ain’t progress grand!

    (But Toad’s not the preachy type, so he won’t.)

  23. manus2 says:

    Toad’s own creation myth. Just so, Toad, just so.

  24. manus2 says:

    But to be fair, Toad, here’s a bit of Psalm 17 that fits quite nicely – and thanks again to Golden for our magnificent illustration:

    He made the darkness his covering,
    the dark waters of the clouds, his tent.
    A brightness shone out before him
    with hailstones and flashes of fire.

  25. golden chersonnese says:

    Ah, but Toad:

    Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face . . (1 Kings 19)

    Funny that.

    Manus, a Toad creation myth? Well I would like to see that one.

    I suppose gnats and webbed toes were created towards the end of the week, manus? But what was created before that, that’s what I really want to know, and why.

  26. manus2 says:

    Golden,

    I’m sorry I was being too quick to be clear. In the past, simple myths helped explain how God created people. These days, we are much more sophisticated, and simple myths explain how people created God.

    So, I was congratulating Toad on his particular creation myth. I think it’s lovely.

  27. savvysrdc says:

    Toad say:

    “As if Toad had never considered the lack of easiness involved in these callings. two of which he did for a living for half a century, and one he did for fun for some years (marathon running).

    Toad is tempted to ask just how old ‘savvy’ is. But that would be a trifle impertinent. So he will not.”

    The point I am trying to make is that applying this attitude to faith would not be a bad idea. savvy is just very young. That should be enough for now.

  28. toadspittle says:

    .
    Amen.

  29. toadspittle says:

    .
    Amen that is, to Savvyrdc.

    But, Manus and Golden, were there tornados in the Garden of Eden?

    If not, then surely they are a castigation for us PSB’s – along with the Black Death, Tsunamis and Mel Gibson movies?

    And, if God was not in the tornado, the big wind, which is part of His creation, surely, where the hell was He?

    Toad thinks we should be told…

  30. manus2 says:

    Toad,

    PSBs – Postoffice Saving Banks? Not really. Personal Sinning Behaviour? Perhaps.

    But the question of how far the Fall affected Nature is tricky. Science tells us the Cosmos has always been a vale of tears, and a mostly barren one at that. But then the philosophers point out that we have no idea how the world really is, only how we perceive it; so I suppose that perception and our acceptance of it could have received a universal blow as a result of whatever the Fall entailed. Not a major matter of concern.

    But it could be made into a major movie – you know, by that Apocalypto bloke. The expulsion from Eden. The angel with the firey sword. The leaf-clad wretches take their first steps into the pitiless jungle. And, to symbolise the disaster this represents for all of nature, the lem(m)ing sobs.

    Can we just leave Mel Gibson out of this from now on?

  31. manus2 says:

    I apologise for the extra ‘s’ in my feeble anagram. It’s too early in the morning for this sort of nonsense.

  32. golden chersonnese says:

    manus, we forgive you, so long as you are ultimately successful in convincing Toad to leave off with the Mel Gibson already, which you so clearly aim to do.

    Yet Toad persists: And, if God was not in the tornado, the big wind, which is part of His creation, surely, where the hell was He?

    Well, Toad, I should think probably where He always is. That seems a reasonable guess, anyway. Do you have a better idea?

    I never knew God would think He had any business being in tornadoes and such. Why would He? The thought had never occurred to me. Where does Toad get such notions from? Is it chromosomal?

    The thing that had always seemed to be moderately sensible to me was that the universe is “in” Him and not the other way round, as Toads are inclined to think.

    This is not to say that the universe is God, but that it gains its being from His being. Its being depends on His being, even Toads too. He “be-ed” it all with his “Fiat! . . . et factum est”. Fancy that.

    Well that seems as good a story as Toad’s ‘god in the whirlwind”, but there’s no accounting for taste.

  33. manus2 says:

    Thank-you, Golden. I’m trying to save us all from this gibon smel.

  34. toadspittle says:

    OK: No more mel!

    (Can’t promise about lady Gaga, though.)

    God was where he always is, sez Golden. “Do you have a better idea?” she then asks.

    Well, I have a different idea.

    “I never knew God would think He had any business being in tornadoes and such. Why would He? The thought had never occurred to me. Where does Toad get such notions from?”

    Toad gets such notions from thinking and pondering and puzzling, Golden. And he believes that his point is valid and reasonable. Manus seems to agree.
    As a tadpole, Toad was taught that God was everywhere. Seems, according to Golden, He’s not. Not in the bad stuff anyway.
    Joyful’s solution is that <God doesn't cause unpleasant things, He just doesn’t prevent them. So that’s all right, then, isn’t it?
    Well, no.
    Just explain to Toad why God thinks typhoons and typhoid, to name but two, are essential elements of creation, and he will be content.
    Nobody has managed to do so yet. And, whatever you think, it’s important.

    Is it chromosomal? God knows. Maybe Toad had more chronomeas than normal folk. Maybe he has fewer.
    Maybe he’s exchanging too many gluons. Maybe he’s not exchanging enough.

  35. joyfulpapist says:

    “Joyful’s solution is that <God doesn't cause unpleasant things, He just doesn’t prevent them," says Toad

    Well, not exactly. Joyful's speculation is that a physical world is going to have certain properties, some of which are going to cause pain under certain circumstances. I certainly believe God caused the physical world. He doesn't – as a rule – stop it from operating in order to save someone from some temporary discomfort (dying, in my view, being a temporary inconvenience in the greater scheme of things).

    There you go, Toad. That should give you enough one-liners for months.

  36. manus2 says:

    Lady Gaga – pah, mutton dressed as lamb.

    I’d watch it with that gluon habit of yours, Toad, you might end up exchanging more than you fancy.

    There are two separate issues here. Firstly, the problem of suffering as induced by the laws of the universe rather than human action. Secondly, the extent to which ‘The Fall’ had a deterimental effect on human nature, and indeed on nature in general.

    We’ve jousted with glee on these topics over at Joyful’s blog, but in summary – I believe we live in the free-est of all possible worlds, which in a consistent physical universe leads to many painful side effects (for land-based life, you need plate tectonics, which results in earthquakes; ditto bacteria and diseases) but ultimately, we all hope, the greatest good in communion with the Divine. I see no problem in accepting that human nature took a hit at the Fall (whatever it was), but I would have more difficulty accepting that somehow the material universe became in some sense detuned a few hundred thousand years ago. Nevertheless, cock-eyed humans make for a sadder, more savage cosmos.

  37. toadspittle says:

    Since ‘interacting’ with CP&S, Toad’s notions regarding the existence of life have altered a bit.

    Possibly there’s no correlation, but now, insted of believing that life exists, indeed proliferates, despite the instability of the universe – he now recognises life exists because of the instability of it.

    And Manus is right that humans do not do much to help the state of affairs. Toad has probably said this before, but he thinks the least unlikely argument in favour of their being some intelligence governing the universe is that surely things on planet Earth cannot be so awful purely by accident?

    But then how would we know? We have no yardstick beyond imagination.

  38. manus2 says:

    Toad,

    The universe is caught in an astonishingly fruitful and an extraordinarily delicate balance between chaos and order. That is why to suggest things could be other than as they are (without a clearly present and overtly heavy-handed God, who would thus restrict our freedom), is easier in the abstract than in the detailed design.

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