Message of International Congress on Catechetics

At the Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message written by the participants in the congress on catechetics, held here this week at the initiative of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy.

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On the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the fifth anniversary of that of the General Directory for Catechesis, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity, came together, at the Vatican, from 8-11 October, for an International Congress on Catechetics.

The participating Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity have come from many countries: 21 from Africa, 10 from Central and North America, 10 from South America, 14 from Asia, 2 from Oceania, and 27 from Europe.

In view of the discussions and the matters which were raised in the study groups during the meeting, we would like to share the following information with all of you involved in the work of catechesis throughout the world:

1. Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Directory for Catechesis have received, especially in the younger Churches, a generally positive welcome and have caused new attention to be given to catechesis and have stimulated renewed efforts for the New Evangelization.

2. We underline that which was stated in the General Directory for Catechesis, regarding the vital relationship that exists between these two texts, despite that fact that they are different, they are complementary in a reciprocal manner.

3. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a «reference text for a renewed catechesis,» and the authoritative point of reference for the Catechisms of the local Churches. In fact it expresses the unity of the faith, its common language, and the catholicity of the Church.

4. The Catechism of the Catholic Church not only has its own explicit value, but also has a theological relevance and a significance for every expression of the faith, by virtue of the fact that it leads to the person of Christ and the Church’s understanding of Him.

5. The Catechism of the Catholic Church shows its full value as a symphony of the Faith in the different ways in which the Catholic Faith is taught (in evangelization, catechesis, preaching, religious education, formation of the community, formation of pastoral collaborators, ecumenical activity and interreligious dialogue).

6. The welcome which the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the General Directory for Catechesis have received, has in turn, stimulated serious efforts geared towards a true inculturation of the Gospel. For this reason, it is hoped that these two texts will be published in those Churches where this has not been done.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

a. Affirms the precedence of the reception of the «datum» of faith before any theological elaboration of it

b. It sustains the vision of a shared faith — because it is universal — before any regional adaptations occur.

c. It guarantees the unity of the vision of faith and its language during any process of inculturation.

d. It complements the formation of candidates for the priesthood both before and after their theological studies.

e. It lends helpful assistance to the theological formation undertaken at Pastoral Centers, Novitiates, Institute of Religious Studies, and is a point of reference for the theological faculties of these places.

We underline, however, that

a. The correct doctrinal expression of the faith requires the context of a living community capable of telling the history of salvation, of celebrating it in the liturgy, of living it with charity, of showing it in the lives of the many Saints of our faith history and of how it was witnessed to by the example of those heralds of the Faith in the «missio ad gentes.»

b. The proper exposition of the faith accomplishes its aim — namely, union with the person of Christ — by means of the activation of His teaching and a renewed spirituality which marks the pathway towards the maturity of faith.

c. The truth transmitted in the Catechism of the Catholic Faith and by means of the General Directory for Catechesis, will assist in discerning the «Seeds of the Word» in the different cultures.

Activation

1. The process of initiation is the means whereby the Catechism of the Catholic Church is best activated in harmony with the great Tradition of the Church and of the Magisterium: proclamation, catechesis and mystagogy, as indicated and expressed in the General Directory for Catechesis, (cf. DGC 65-72).

2. The traditional catechetical paradigm modeled on the school, needs to accommodate also the other dimensions of the catechumenate where the passing on of the message is enriched and nourished by rites and celebrations, integrated into ascetical-penitential exercises, whereby witness and sustenance is found through the Church community and family accompanying a person so that all may become an authentic school of Christian Life (cf. DGC 89-91).

3. A strong scriptural component is to be found, and is greatly desired, in the passing on of the faith today. The Catechism of the Catholic Church assists in reading the Bible in accord with Catholic Tradition.

4. Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the General Directory for Catechesis are irreplaceable instruments for the doctrinal formation of pastoral collaborators, for whom, it is to be hoped, proper training schools are available.

5. In the light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the General Directory for catechesis, catechesis will be effective only if there is an adequate atmosphere of faith lived by the community, animated by suitable catechists, and supported by proper means.

6. This Assembly hopes that with patient, but strongly resolute means, the aim of the Apostolic See be accomplished, that is that National Catechisms and National Directories for the different age groups be written and published. These are inestimable instruments for catechesis called to bring the strength of the Gospel into the heart of culture and the cultures (cf. DGC 131).

With these commonly shared views and from our shared experience of these days, we wish to extend a warm filial greeting to the First Catechist, our Holy Father Pope John Paul II, thanking him for the zeal and ardor he has constantly shown for catechesis.

We remember the Bishops of the world as they have the prime responsibility for catechesis and for providing good catechists in their Particular Churches.

We think also of Priests and Deacons who, in relation to catechesis, by virtue of the Sacrament of Orders, are constituted teachers of the faith.

We wish to encourage and sustain Parents, who through the Sacrament of Matrimony are given the grace and responsibility of the Christian education of their children.

We hold as indispensable and irreplaceable the catechetical service provided by many men and women Religious; in the catechetical task of a diocese, their place can be taken by no one.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and encouragement to all the Lay Catechists of the World, whose catechetical apostolate is rooted in their Baptism and strengthened by Confirmation.

To Christ, True Way and Life, we entrust our labors and the proposals made in these days, and we place all in the hands of Mary, Star of Evangelization and Virgin of Pentecost.

Given at Rome, at the Tomb of the Apostle Peter on the 11th October MMII, fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

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