Catechism, an "Instrument of Unity," Turns 10 Years Old

Vatican Aide Comments on Its Value

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2002 ( The Catechism of the Catholic Church, an «instrument of the unity of the faith,» is as timely now as when it appeared 10 years ago, says a Vatican official.

John Paul II approved the Catechism on June 25, 1992. It was published the following day in «response to contemporary man’s thirst for truth,» to quote Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

On the occasion of the work’s 10th anniversary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Vatican congregation, discussed the origin and purpose of the Catechism on Vatican Radio.

«The Catechism of the Catholic Church was requested by the 1985 Synod of Bishops and, therefore, is a response to a petition of the universal Church, especially of its pastors, who following Vatican Council II, were asking for an instrument to transmit the authentic patrimony of Catholic doctrine,» he explained.

«It was approved by the Holy Father to be an instrument of the unity of the faith and the common doctrine of the Church on the most major problems referring to God, the mission of the Church as universal sacrament of salvation, the moral and Christian plan, so that it would be an instrument to proclaim to men the truths that are the way to heaven,» Archbishop Bertone continued.

«From this perspective, the Catechism is an essential and rigorous point of reference to verify the compatibility, correspondence of theological opinions, of catechesis, of the presentation of the Christian doctrine in the different local Churches with the authentic patrimony that has been transmitted to us by the apostles, by the Tradition of the Church, which is valid for all times and for all Christian communities,» the archbishop stated.

«We ourselves, in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, always consult the doctrine expressed by the Catechism of the Catholic Church when we are called to watch over the authenticity [and] orthodoxy of the Catholic faith, to purge the ambiguity of some opinions or of some doctrine proposed in teaching or in books and publications of Catholic authors,» he explained.

The past decade has not affected the Catechism, the archbishop said.

«The text, exactly as it was formulated, retains its clear and consistent up-to-datedness,» he said. «Even its language is noble, dignified, as appropriate to express truths revealed by God, by Jesus — Word incarnate — transmitted by the Church in the course of the centuries. At the same time, it retains an appropriate language to be understood in our time, to give meaning to life, the plan of Christian realization for every child of God.»<br>
«It does not need corrections, additions or modifications,» he said. But he clarified that «in 1997, five years after its promulgation, and following a fruitful dialogue with Christian communities and with thousands upon thousands of readers, the Catechism suffered some additions and modifications, including linguistic ones.»

An international congress has been organized in Rome for next October, in collaboration with the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, to celebrate the 10 years since the promulgation of the Catechism. Among the participants will be representatives of bishops’ conferences from around the world.

It will be an opportunity to verify the «acceptance of the Catechism, of its contents and methodology in the different local Churches […] and to study a better use of this instrument in the present and for the future,» Archbishop Bertone concluded.

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