VATICAN CITY, 7 JAN 2012 (VIS) – Made public today was a Note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith containing pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith. Summarised extracts of the English-language version are given below.
“With the Apostolic Letter of 11 October 2011, ‘Porta fidei’, Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of Faith. This Year will begin on 11 October 2012, and will conclude on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King”.
“The beginning of the Year of Faith coincides with the anniversaries of two great events which have marked the life of the Church in our days: the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, … and the twentieth of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church”.
Recommendations for the Universal Church
– The main ecclesial event will be the thirteenth General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops, on “The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” to be held in October. It is during the Synod that the Year of Faith will begin.
– Encouraging pilgrimages of the faithful to the See of Peter and to the Holy Land.
– Inviting the faithful to recognise the special role of Mary in the mystery of salvation, to love her and follow her as a model of faith and virtue.
– Holding symposia, conferences and large gatherings to encourage encounters with authentic witness to the faith and to promote understanding of the contents of Catholic doctrine, especially the teachings of Vatican Council II.
– Deepening knowledge of the primary documents of Vatican Council II and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is especially true for candidates for priesthood, novices in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as well as for those in a period of discernment for joining an Ecclesial Association or Movement.
– More attentive reception of the homilies, catechesis, addresses and other speeches and documents of the Holy Father.
– Planning ecumenical initiatives aimed at the restoration of unity among all Christians. In particular, there will be a solemn ecumenical celebration in which all of the baptised will reaffirm their faith in Christ.
– A Secretariat to coordinate all of the different initiatives of the Year of Faith will be established within the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation. The Secretariat will also open a dedicated website.
– At the conclusion of the Year, on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Universal King, there will be a Eucharist celebrated by the Holy Father, in which a solemn renewal of the profession of faith will take place.
Recommendations for episcopal conferences
– Dedicating a day of study to the topic of faith, its personal witness and its transmission to new generations.
– Promoting the republication in paperback and economical editions of the documents of Vatican Council II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, and their wider distribution using modern technologies.
– Translating the documents of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church into languages which lack a translation. Also, encouraging initiatives of charitable support to enable translations into the local anguages of mission countries, where the local Churches cannot afford the expense.
– Promoting television and radio transmissions, films and publications focusing on the faith and on Vatican Council II. This should be done using the new styles of communication, especially on the popular level.
– Disseminating knowledge of local saints and blesseds, the authentic witnesses of the faith.
– Maximising the catechetical potential of local artistic patrimony, possibly with ecumenical cooperation.
– Educators in centres of theological studies, seminaries and Catholic universities should be encouraged to demonstrate the relevance within their various disciplines of the contents of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
– Preparing pamphlets and leaflets of an apologetic nature, with the help of theologians and authors, to help the faithful respond to the questions which arise in difficult contexts, including the challenge of sects and problems related to secularism.
– Examining local catechisms and various catechetical supplements in use in the particular Churches to ensure their complete conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and preparing new ones in case of need.
– Ensuring that the contents of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are present in the “Ratio” of formation for future priests, and in the curriculum of their theological studies.
Recommendations at the diocesan level
– It is hoped that each particular Church will celebrate the opening and the solemn conclusion of the Year of Faith.
– Organising a study day in each diocese on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, particularly for priests, consecrated persons and catechists.
– Each bishop could devote a pastoral letter to the topic of faith, keeping in mind the specific pastoral circumstances of his faithful, reminding them of the importance of Vatican Council II and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
– Organising catechetical events, especially for young people and those seeking the meaning of life, helping them to discover the beauty of ecclesial faith.
– Reviewing the reception of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the life and mission of dioceses, particularly in the realm of catechesis.
– Focusing the continuing education of the clergy on the documents of Vatican Council II and on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
– Organising penitential celebrations in which all can ask for God’s forgiveness, especially for sins against faith.
– Renewing creative dialogue between faith and reason in the academic and artistic communities, through symposia, meetings and days of study,
especially at Catholic universities.
– Promoting encounters with non-believers who sincerely search for the
ultimate meaning and definitive truth of their lives and of the world,
taking as an example the dialogues of the Courtyard of the Gentiles,
sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
– Paying greater attention to Catholic schools, which are a perfect place to offer students a living witness to the Lord and to nurture their faith, using such instruments as the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and “Youcat”.
Recommendations for parishes, communities, associations and movements
– All of the faithful are invited to read closely and meditate upon Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, “Porta fidei”.
– Intensifying the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, in which the faith of the Church is proclaimed, celebrated and strengthened. All of the faithful are invited to participate in the Eucharist actively, fruitfully and with awareness.
– Priests should devote greater attention to the study of the documents of
Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, apply this to
their pastoral care and offer cycles of homilies on the faith or on certain
– Catechists should hold more firmly to the doctrinal richness of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and guide groups of faithful towards a deeper common understanding thereof.
– Parishes can help to distribute the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and other resources appropriate for families – the primary setting for the transmission of the faith – for example, during the blessing of homes, the
Baptism of adults, Confirmation and Marriage.
– Promoting missions and other popular programmes in parishes and in the workplace, to help the faithful rediscover the gift of baptismal faith and
the task of giving witness.
– Members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic
Life are asked to work towards the new evangelisation, each according to
their proper charism.
– Contemplative communities should pray specifically for the renewal of the faith among the People of God, and for a new impulse for its transmission to the young.
– Associations and Ecclesial Movements are invited to promote specific
initiatives, through the contribution of their proper charism.
– All of the faithful should try to communicate their own experience of
faith and charity to their brothers and sisters of other religions,
believers and non-believers. In this way, it is hoped that the entire
Christian people will begin a kind of mission towards those with whom they
live and work.
The Note concludes by stating that “the recommendations provided here have the goal of inviting all of the members of the Church to work so that this Year may be a special time in which we, as Christians, may share that which is most dear to us: Christ Jesus, the Redeemer of mankind”.