VATICAN CITY, JULY 29, 2004 ( The faithful have a right to sound catechesis, and it is up to parishes and diocesan movements in communion with the bishop to provide such instruction, says a Vatican official.

When opening the European Catechetical Conference, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, referred to the plea of many Catholics who want to learn more about the faith. The Vatican dicastery organized the conference.

"The parishes and the new ecclesial movements present in the local Church will be real communities of faith if they maintain direct catechetical relations with all the faithful of that portion of the People of God entrusted to their bishop, collaborating with him," the cardinal said.

"Catechesis is not simply one more activity among the many endeavors of the diocese in evangelization, but represents a unique and fundamental 'work of justice,'" he added.

Consequently, the cardinal said that "the supplication that Paul heard in the vision of Macedonia, 'Help us,'" must always resound in the heart and mind of every priest and catechist.

The challenge of catechesis, he added, cannot be properly addressed today if the duty to proclaim the truth in the "new 'areopagi'" is not emphasized.

These "areopagi" are "the world of politics and economics, the world of art in all its diversified and noble expression, the world of communication and of scientific research, the world of computer science," the Vatican prefect explained.

He added: "All available honest and congruent means" must be used "to resolve that break between the Gospel and culture which generates serious damages in civil society and the Church."