Following up the post below about YOUCAT (Youth Catechism), to be published by Ignatius Press in March—the Preface has been posted by Italian journalist Sandro Magister on his Chiesa site; here is the first part:
"I RECOMMEND TO YOU THE READING OF AN EXTRAORDINARY BOOK"
by Benedict XVI
Dear young friends! Today I recommend to you the reading of an extraordinary book. It is extraordinary for its content, but also for the way in which it was composed, which I would like to explain to you briefly so that you may understand its uniqueness.
"YouCat" took its origin, so to speak, from another work that dates back to the 1980's. This was a difficult period for the Church as for society worldwide, during which the need arose for new directions to find a way toward the future. After Vatican Council II (1962-1965) and in the changed cultural climate, many people no longer knew correctly what Christians should really believe, what the Church taught, if it could teach anything "tout court," and how all this could be adapted to the new cultural climate.
Isn't Christianity as such outdated? Can one still reasonably be a believer today? These are questions that many Christians still ask themselves today. So Pope John Paul II resolved on an audacious decision: he decided that the bishops of the whole world should write a book responding to these questions.
He entrusted to me the task of coordinating the work of the bishops, and of making sure that the contributions of the bishops would give rise to a book: I mean a real book, not a mere juxtaposition of a multiplicity of texts. This book was to bear the traditional title of "Catechism of the Catholic Church," and yet be something absolutely stimulating and new; it was to show what the Catholic Church believes today and how one can believe in a reasonable manner.
I was frightened by this task, and I must confess that I doubted that such a thing could succeed. How could it happen that authors scattered all over the world could produce a readable book? How could men living on different continents, and not only from a geographical point of view, but also intellectually and culturally, produce a text endowed with inner unity and comprehensible on all the continents?
To this was added the fact that the bishops had to write not simply as individual authors, but as representatives of their confreres and of their local Churches.
I must confess that even today, it seems like a miracle to me that this project succeeded in the end. We met three or four times a year for one week, and we passionately discussed the individual portions of text that had been produced in the meantime.
The first thing we had to do was to define the structure of the book: it had to be simple, so that the individual groups of authors could be given a clear task and would not have to force their statements into a complicated system.
It is the same structure as that of this book. This is simply taken from a catechetical experience going back centuries: what we believe, how we celebrate the Christian mysteries, how we have life in Christ; how we should pray.
I do not want to explain now how we grappled with the great quantity of questions, until a real book came out. In a work of this kind, many points are questionable: everything that men do is insufficient and can be improved, and nonetheless this is a great book, a sign of unity in diversity. Starting with many voices, it was possible to form a choir, because we had the common score of the faith, which the Church has handed down to us from the apostles through the centuries up until today.
Why all of this?
Read the entire Preface on the Chiesa site. Magister writes:
Translations into twelve other languages are underway, and will be published gradually in the various countries beginning next March. The Italian edition was edited by the patriarch of Venice, Angelo Scola, and is printed by Città Nuova, the publishing house of the Focolare movement. The grand presentation of "YouCat" will take place at the World Youth Day scheduled for Madrid from August 16 to 21. On that occasion, each young person will find a copy of the volume in his "pilgrim's sack."
The outline of "YouCat" is the same as for the main Catechism. First the articles of the "Credo," then the seven sacraments, then the ten commandments, and finally the "Our Father." ...
The success of "YouCat" is an unknown. But even the main Catechism has so far made only the slightest headway into the body of the Church. The same goes for the Compendium.
In recent decades, the various national Churches have expended a great deal of energy on the production of their catechetical texts, but almost always with criteria far from, if not opposed to, those of the Catechism backed by Wojtyla and Ratzinger. In almost all cases, the results have been disappointing.
The consequence is that today the transmission of Christian teaching to the new generations is one of the most dramatic black holes of the Church's pastoral care.
It is a black hole that acts as a background to the preface written by Benedict XVI for "YouCat." For example, where it urges young people to "be much more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents."
A book well-worth reading about the Catechism specifically and catechetics in general is The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Craft of Catechesis, by Petroc Willey, Ph.D., S.T.L., Pierre de Cointet, and Barbara Morgan, published in 2008 by Ignatius Press. Here is part of that book's Preface:
The Catechism is rightly understood to be, in the first place, an annunciation, a proclamation, of the Faith of the Church for our day. It is a presentation of the "essential" and "fundamental" points of the Faith (see CCC 11). Every Catholic can refer to the Catechism to gain a secure understanding of the Church's teaching on matters of faith and morals. For catechists, then, the Catechism is the key reference work for their teaching, the utterly reliable place to which they can turn. Approved by the bishops of the whole Church, the Catechism is a uniquely collaborative work, drawing on the wisdom and insights of Catholics from every culture. It is a work for teaching all nations that has involved the bishops of every nation in its compilation and writing.
It is less well known and appreciated that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is also a superbly crafted work from which to learn and to teach. The teaching follows from the learning, for as one learns from the Catechism one gains not only a deepening understanding of God's gratuitous plan for our salvation, but also a sense of growing wonder at the learning process itself, as one's heart and mind are enlarged to welcome and receive these truths in one's own life. The Catechism is utterly faithful to the truth that God's revelation is his very act of transmission, his gift of himself to us. And we are invited into that truth, to hand ourselves over to it (see Rom 6:17), so that we can ourselves hand on the Faith to others. And it is from this love of learning from, and with, the Lord that the catechist is able to discover in his own life a growing love for God's revelation of himself in Christ, for the process of learning and transmission, and for the learner. The introduction to the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church points us precisely to this pedagogical dimension of the Catechism, speaking of the "wisdom of its presentation":
In fact, the Compendium is meant to reawaken interest in and enthusiasm for the Catechism, which, in the wisdom of its presentation and the depth of its spirituality, always remains the basic text for catechesis in the Church today. 
For these reasons, the Catechism is not a work to be read briefly or hastily; one needs to stay with the text, pray with it and immerse oneself in it to appreciate fully its visionary power and the compelling sense of beauty, goodness, and truth that radiates from its pages. In these pages we meet the Spirit at work in his Church. The Catechism is a place of "personal encounter" (see CCC 2563), and it is in and through this. encounter that a truly Spirit-led pedagogy can emerge and inspire one's teaching methods, a pedagogy flowing directly from one's prayerful understanding of the Faith. It is in and through this encounter that the authentic craft of catechesis can arise.
The the entire Preface on Ignatius Insight.