Priest Is "Catechist of Catechists," Says John Paul II

Asks Clergy Not to Be Distracted by Secondary Occupations

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 8, 2003 ( Calling the priest a «catechist of catechists,» John Paul II urged the clergy not to neglect this task for the sake of secondary duties.

«Insofar as he is the first catechist in the community, the priest, especially if he is a parish priest, is called to be the first believer and disciple of the Word of God, and to dedicate assiduous attention to discernment and the support of vocations for the catechetical service,» the Pope said.

«As catechist of catechists, he must be concerned about his spiritual, doctrinal and cultural formation,» the Holy Father said.

He was addressing the participants in the congress on «The Task of Priests in Catechesis in Europe,» organized by the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (

«Today the priest’s ministry increasingly extends its boundaries in pastoral realms that enrich the Christian community, but which at times run the risk of dispersing his action in a thousand commitments and activities,» the Pope said.

«His presence in catechesis is weakened and can be reduced to specific times that are not very incisive for the formation itself of the catechists,» he warned.

On the contrary, the priest «must feel the transmitting of the Gospel as a duty toward the whole people of God, and must do so with the most careful theological and cultural preparation,» John Paul II said.

In carrying out this task, he asked the priests for obedience to all the instructions in the matter of catechesis and the magisterium of each bishop, of the episcopal conferences, as well as «the study and use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.»

The Pope said that the Catechism is the «indispensable vademecum offered to priests, catechists and all the faithful, to direct the catechesis in ways of genuine fidelity to God and to the human beings of our time.»

Lastly, the Holy Father said that «catechesis in the family, in the working world, in the school and university, through the media and the new languages, corresponds to priests and laymen, parishes and movements.»

«All are called to cooperate in the new evangelization, to maintain and revitalize the common Christian roots,» he added. «The Christian faith is for European peoples the richest heritage to realize their true spiritual, economic and social progress.»

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