Catechism Shows Church's Value for Youth

Interview With Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press

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By Genevieve Pollock

SAN FRANCISCO, APRIL 19, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The youth catechism presented last week in Rome shows that the Church thinks young people are important, says Mark Brumley.

The president of Ignatius Press, the publishing company that released the English-language version of “Youcat” last week, explained to ZENIT why Benedict XVI in his foreword called this an “extraordinary book.”

Youcat, which is being sold in 17 languages, will be distributed to participants at World Youth Day this August in Madrid.

In this interview with ZENIT, Brumley spoke about the features of this book developed especially for youth and further initiatives to put it in the hands of young people worldwide.

ZENIT: Why do you think Benedict XVI in his foreword calls this “an extraordinary book?”

Brumley: Because Pope Benedict XVI recognizes that Youcat presents the Catholic faith as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to young people in a way that is more likely to get their attention than in the catechism itself.

It’s the kind of adaptation of the catechism Pope John Paul II intended.

That’s why we quote Pope Benedict XVI when he says to young people, “Study this Catechism!”

ZENIT: The Pope expressed the hope that “many young people will let themselves be fascinated by this book.” What in your opinion are some of the more fascinating features?

Brumley: The content and the style of its presentation. The content is the Catholic faith. The style responds to the interests of many young people.

The answers are direct and they take into consideration the concerns of today’s youth.

The use of colorful graphics — including lots of sidebars, photos of young people, and some stick-figure art — makes Youcat appealing to youth.

ZENIT: The Holy Father encourages the young people to not “flee from God’s presence” in response to recent scandals and sins within the Church, but rather to realize that “you yourselves are the Body of Christ, the Church.” How can this catechism help youth to take the Church in their own hands?

Brumley: By showing them that the Church’s leaders care enough about them to tell them the truth but to do so with regard for how young people perceive things.

Young people need to understand and personally believe the Church’s faith.

They need to celebrate it in the sacraments, especially in Holy Mass. And they need to live it in their families, parishes, schools, and the world, especially among their peers.

That whole process of Christian living begins with having the faith presented in an engaging way. Youcat does that.

It shows that the Church thinks young people are important.

It’s a tool to help parents, pastors, teachers, and youth ministry leaders evangelize and catechize the next generation of Catholics.

ZENIT: This book aims to adapt the catechism and lessons of the faith for youth, but without watering down the message. In fact, the message is described as being somewhat “tough.” Could you say something more about this?

Brumely: One can be so concerned about not morally or intellectually challenging young people, for fear they will reject the faith, that one avoids anything one thinks they’ll consider “tough” — challenging to think about or challenging to live.

That’s a mistake, just as it’s a mistake to assume that one must never adapt one’s presentation of the faith to take into consideration the abilities or the concerns of young people.

Youcat strikes the balance — it gives substantial content, even though it tries to do so in more youth-accessible language than the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and it uses contemporary photos and graphics.  

ZENIT: The Vatican has also been closely involved in this book’s release, and there is a plan to distribute it to all World Youth Day participants in Madrid. What other plans are in place to put this book in the hands of young people?

Brumley: We’re working with diocesan offices, parishes, youth ministry organizations, and schools to try to get Youcat into the hands of every Catholic teenager in the United States.

We’re developing lesson plans, study guides, and other complementary resources so that Youcat becomes the go-to book for confirmation, Catholic high school formation, and youth ministry and evangelization.

Eventually, we will have many internet resources available for youth and for adults at www.youcat.us.

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On the Net:

Youcat: www.ignatius.com/Products/YOUCAT-P/youcat.aspx

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