Error Suspends Distribution of Italian "Youcat"

Catechism Will Be Presented in Rome Wednesday

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 12, 2011 ( The Italian-language translation of the «Youcat» is being temporarily suspended due to the erroneous translation of a question on contraception, Catholic News Service is reporting.

The 300-page youth catechism was prepared in light of the upcoming World Youth Day; the text is being translated into 13 languages and will be given to some 700,000 pilgrims in their World Youth Day backpack.

The error in the Italian version is found in question 420, which asks: «Può una coppia cristiana fare ricorso ai metodi anticoncezionali?» (May a Christian couple resort to contraceptive methods?)

The official English-language translation of the same question asks: «May a Christian married couple regulate the number of children they have?»

Both catechisms answer «yes» to the question, and the text of the answer is the same, citing the circumstances that would make adding another child to a family a «big, almost superhuman challenge for the couple.»

The text in both translations adds, however, that «there are clear criteria that the married couple must observe: Regulating births, in the first place, must not mean that the couple is avoiding conception as a matter of principle. Second, it must not mean avoiding children for selfish reasons. Third, it must not mean that external coercion is involved (if, for example, the State were to decide how many children a couple could have). Fourth, it must not mean that any and every means may be used.»

In the answer to question 421, which asks if all methods of «preventing conception» are «equally good,» both translations of the catechism answer «no.»

«The Church recommends the refined methods of self-observation and natural family planning (NFP) as methods of deliberately regulating conception,» the text says. «These are in keeping with the dignity of man and woman; they respect the innate laws of the female body; they demand mutual affection and consideration and therefore are a school of love.»

The catechism calls Natural Family Planning a method that is «ecological, holistic, healthy, and an exercise in partnership,» and says the Church «rejects all artificial means of contraception — namely, chemical methods (the Pill), mechanical methods (for example, condom, intra-uterine device, or IUD), and surgical methods (sterilization) — since these attempt to separate the sexual act from its procreative potential and block the total self-giving of husband and wife.»


The Italian publisher, Citta Nuova editorial group, told Catholic News Service that «the product is temporarily suspended, but not halted.» Citta Nuova is the publishing arm of the Focolare lay movement.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, who edited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, oversaw the original German text of the youth catechism, which is based on the earlier catechism and follows the same question-and-answer format. The Austrian Bishops’ Conference approved the text in March 2010, and Benedict XVI penned the forward.

The catechism will be presented Wednesday in Rome by Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for Laity, Cardinal Schönborn, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, who is publishing the English version, said in a statement that the «the problem [of the translation error] did not originate with the German text — at least not if the Italian translation is based on the same German text as that on which Ignatius Press based its translation.»

«The German text of question 420 asks whether a Christian married couple may regulate the number of children they have,» he said. «It does not ask whether the couple may use methods of contraception.»

«I don’t know why the Italian translation reads as it does, nor do I know how it came about that it reads as it does, but it should be fixed to reflect, without ambiguity, the Church’s teaching that contraception is evil,» Brumley added. «It is my understanding that the Italian text is being fixed.»

In Benedict XVI’s forward to the youth catechism, he noted that the idea behind the text was to «translate the Catechism of the Catholic Church into the language of young people and make its words penetrate their world.»

He urged the youth to «study the catechism with passion and perseverance,» because «you must know what you believe.»

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