Compendium Reflects "Maternal Concern" of Church

Interview with Catechist of Congregation for Clergy

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 1, 2005 ( The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church reflects the “maternal concern of the Church” for the faithful, says a Vatican aide.

It does this by placing the “deposit of the faith, in the hands of the people,” said Monsignor Tommaso Scenico of the Congregation for Clergy.

In this interview with ZENIT, Monsignor Scenico, head of the dicastery’s office of catechesis, comments on the Compendium that was presented by Benedict XVI on Tuesday at the Vatican. The Compendium is currently only available in Italian.

Q: Is the Compendium a separate work from the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

Monsignor Scenico: The teachings are not changed. The deposit of faith presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] is a unique and unrepeatable deposit, so much so that the Compendium is very closely dependent on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, using the same phraseology of the CCC, preferably the same words, and referring to the Catechism with specific reference numbers.

Given this close dependence on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Compendium itself is subdivided in the same four parts as is the CCC: “Lex Credendi” — the Creed; “Lex Celebrandi” — The Sacraments; “Lex Vivendi” — Morals and “Lex Orandi” — Prayer. The “depositum fidei” has not been changed, only the manner of exposition.

Q: Yet, still today, there are those who favor St. Pius X’s catechism.

Monsignor Scenico: St. Pius X’s catechism lends itself to memorization. It was not promulgated by the Pope for the whole Catholic Church. It was produced for the Diocese of Rome. Then, by extension, St. Pius X’s catechism spread all over the world and was understood as the universal catechism.

When Pope John Paul II made the gift of the CCC to the Church in 1992, it was the first time that a Pope promulgated a catechism for the whole world.

And I must say that in these 13 years, from 1992 until today, the Catechism has truly been a sure norm for the teaching of the faith, a valid and legitimate instrument of ecclesial communion, an instrument of renewal to which the Holy Spirit incessantly calls the Church, a reference text for the elaboration of local catechisms and, finally, a model of inculturation of the revealed faith. Therefore, the CCC, the deposit of the faith, is unrepeatable.

Q: Was it really necessary to write the CCC and then its Compendium?

Monsignor Scenico: The Pope maintained that after a great endeavor of secularization or downright secularism, it was worthwhile to condense — a rich volume of almost 990 pages — what the Church believes, lives, celebrates and prays. This was an enormous gift that Pope John Paul II gave to the Church.

Now, to have elaborated the Compendium reflects the maternal attitude of the Church which is always mother and teacher, to use an expression of Pope John XXIII. It gives evidence of the intention to have this deposit of faith pass concretely into the hands of the people.

Here is the maternal concern of the Church to give a small version, that is, a synthesis of the unchanged and unchangeable deposit of the faith.

One can take this treasure in hand, keep it on the night table, or in a purse. It is available in two formats: one slightly larger and another somewhat smaller, precisely so that one can carry it and know what the Church believes, celebrates, lives and prays.

To be on the side of the Church does not mean only to be in line with words, but to place oneself on the side of the Church in deeds and then to accept what the Church believes, celebrates, lives and prays. It is what is contained in the final synthesis of this Compendium.

Q: Are you expecting criticisms on the elaboration of the Compendium? From anyone in particular?

Monsignor Scenico: Yes. The first question I fear is “why was this omitted in the Compendium rather than that?” Obviously, many things were left out, the proportion reflects it: 982 pages reduced to 205 small pages in a format that is smaller than the CCC. Undoubtedly a synthesis entails this risk.

Criticisms have already been made, and I was very displeased when some of the press said that the Pope continues his pro-life propaganda. The Catechism obviously promotes life. Therefore, it is only the inability to understand, on the part of those who wish to criticize and perhaps cannot think, that the Compendium, which is a synthesis of the Catechism, cannot contradict the Catechism itself.

Such criticism cannot be feared. I invite the mass media and those who must report on this gift of love of the Church to the Church, to understand that it is not about an advertising gimmick, but about the faith of the Church, the synthesis of the faith of the Church.

Obviously there are and will be criticisms, but by those who probably do not understand that the faith of the Church does not wish to invade others’ fields, but that it is a duty to proclaim the faith incarnated by Jesus Christ — Go and preach, I will be with you — this is what Christ said.

To presume that the Church should say something else, in other words, to say or not say something else, would be to not understand the reality of the Church. And if the Church did not behave according to what she has received from Jesus Christ, then she would betray Jesus Christ.

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