GDC 284-285: “Preparation of local catechisms: a direct responsibility of the episcopal ministry”

Today we talk about the virtue of a catechism as a genre of written catechesis:

284. Among the aids available to catechesis, catechisms excel all others.

The note for this sentence is lengthy: The question of local catechisms has been dealt with in Part two, chap. II. Here we intend to present only some criteria for their elaboration. By the term “local catechisms” the present document refers to those catechisms which are proposed by particular Churches or by Episcopal Conferences.

Their importance derives from the fact that the message transmitted by them is recognized as authentic by the Pastors of the Church. If the Bishop presides over the general catechetical activity of a particular Church, it is also true that the publication of catechisms is a direct responsibility of the episcopal ministry. National, regional, or diocesan catechisms, drawn up in co-operation with catechetical workers, are ultimately the responsibility of the Bishops, who are catechists par excellence in the particular Churches.

In drawing up catechisms, the following two criteria must be carefully adhered to.

a) perfect harmony with the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “a sure and authentic reference… particularly for preparing local catechisms”; (Fidei Depositum 3c)

b) due consideration for the norms and criteria for the presentation of the Gospel message contained in the General Directory for Catechesis, which is also a “standard of reference” (Catechesi Tradendae 50) for catechesis.

285. The “prior approbation of the Apostolic See” (General Catechetical Directory 119, 134; canon law 775 § 2; Pastor Bonus 94) which is required for catechisms emanating from Episcopal Conferences—signifies that these are documents whereby the universal Church, in the differing socio-cultural contexts to which she is sent, proclaims and transmits the Gospel and “generates the particular Churches by manifesting herself in them”. (Communionis Notio 9) The approbation of a catechism is a recognition of the fact that it is a text of the universal Church for a specific culture and situation.

It took a while before the various catechisms began to appear after the CCC was published. Now we have YouCat, the compendium on social issues, and other books. What’s working from what you’ve read and seen?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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