Friday, 18 February 2011

"I made this desire my own"

At the moment, one of our lecturers who works at Maryvale is giving us some background to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (promulgated by John Paul II in 1992). Some would say the Catechism is unwieldy. Some would say it is contrary to the spirit of Vatican II. Some would say it is an imposition from the Roman Curia. But what can we learn about it if we look at John Paul II's introductory document Fidei Depositum (Deposit of the Faith) which explains its origins?

1. He says the remote preparation for the Catechism was the Second Vatican Council. This Council "was not first of all to condemn the errors of the time, but above all to strive calmly to show the strength and beauty of the doctrine of the faith."

2. At the 20th anniversary of the Council in 1985, John Paul II convoked a Synod of Bishops, which met to celebrate the fruits of the Council, to study its teaching, and to promote knowledge and application of it. At this synod, the bishops said that "Very many have expressed a desire that a catechism of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composed..." So the desire begins with the wider Church, not with an elite few. Such a desired catechism was to be biblical, liturgical and suited to modern life.

3. John Paul II "made this desire [his] own," and entrusted a commission of 12 Cardinals and Bishops, headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, to prepare it. In other words, it was born out of the pastoral compassion of the Pope, in response to the expressed needs of his flock.

The project then took 6 years, in which there were 9 drafts sent to all the bishops of the world, as well as many theologians and catechists, for feedback and input. What other text can claim such painstaking work and broad collaboration?

Moreover, Pope John Paul II said that because this catechism satisfies the desire of the faithful for doctrinal certainty, it also ensures Church unity: "I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion." So quite a handy book for us to have!

More in another post on the structure and sources of the catechism...

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