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Friday, April 15, 2011



Thank you for the kind words Carl, and I would like to express my apologies for the exuberance of my comments, without benefit of reading the Youcat nor really understanding the motivations behind it. As I said, it was a gut reaction. I had refrained from comments up to that point and should have maintained that status quo.

I have a high regard and respect for Cardinal Schonborn and have no doubt that the product will be well done and completely orthodox, despite any translation issues. It was the premise that struck me at a very sensitive point which has been central to my own life experiences.

By way of personal explanation, I can truly say I owe my attitudes on this subject to my own father, who while raising four boys, rarely ever lost his cool and always treated us with respect and the expectation of intelligence. There was never a question of authority, but he used it without ever raising any sense of injustice in us.

All of my life, from as early as I can remember in school, I have found myself in the role of mentor, of mediator, of counselor and it it took many years for me to realize why. Personality perhaps, but I believe it was the approach of personal dignity that was instilled in me, so that anyone who interacts with me knows they will never be treated with condescension, regardless of their age, their gender, their background or their social status. Let me say, this is a burden sometimes, nor is it always easy to do. Occasionally it can work in reverse, in the case of a boss, for example, who expects servility rather than respect.

What has this got to do with it? It goes to the heart of my Catholic faith, I suppose, to the imitation of Christ. Over the years I have seen so many programs for all ages in the Baptist church of my youth, and now in the Catholic Church that while created with the best of intentions, seriously underestimate the intelligence and capabilities of the people or age group they are created to target.

For those whose reaction is, well at least they are doing something, I say, yes you are absolutely right, and that is why I keep my mouth shut for the most part. And I know that God uses imperfect instruments to do his will and I am certainly one of those imperfect instruments.

That said, Cardinal Schonborn's comments are instructive and encouraging.

"For years we have heard about the need to find 'brief formulas' of faith that can be easily memorized," he reflected. "The history of professions of faith shows clearly that this happened at the dawn of Christianity, and these formulas remain unaltered in the sacred texts."

This says to me that this is more of condensation of the faith for a specific apologetic purpose, in response to a need, and clearly I had jumped the gun without enough information.

"The urgency stems from the fact that the young protagonists of this text belong to a generation for whom being Christian is a conscious choice," the cardinal stated.

This is a fascinating remark. There is an entire volume to be said about this, but I will say first that it is an answer to prayer. If this is the motivation and goal, I am on board, both feet. Perhaps my Evangelical background and Sola Fide upbringing influences me here, but I have noticed Pope Benedict's regular insistence on conversion of heart over the years and continually say "Amen!" This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. This is where the Holy Spirit renews the Church. This where the scandals of priests and politicians are met with and dealt with by the Holy Spirit. This is where the dissenters face reality. This is where each of us approaches the life of holiness envisioned by John Paul II. This is the place where saints are made. This is where the true spirit of Vatican II lies.

Charles E Flynn

I read dozens of postings and comments every week. How few of them rise to the level of this exchange between Carl and his longtime reader, LJ!

LJ mentioned, via Cardinal Schonborn's remark, the generation for whom being Christian is a conscious choice. Years ago, a friend of mine who had been raised Catholic but who had left the Church, said to me on the phone the most chilling words I have ever heard in person:

"No one is going to tell me how to live my life."


As the song goes :"Everything old is new again"

I was raised on the Green catechism (Baltimore in the USA)

What is the Mass?
The Mass is the unbloody representation of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary.

This is the essence of the Catholic doctrine on the Sacrifice of the Mass. Yes, it would have been better to have elaborated on the doctrine and given us the Q&A as a take home but for generations, the majority of whom left school at age 16, and who would probably not pick up a religious book, other than their Sunday Missal, for the rest of their lives they had the basics of the Faith. This was thrown out in favour of "what does it mean to you?" and felt banners which, like fairy floss (candy floss) quickly dissolved and left nothing of value behind. Now the Church, forty years later, has "discovered" that the young need something they can take in easily to give them the basics of the Faith but hopefully they will also graduate to the Catechism of the Catholic Church for something more meatier.


Sharon -- who was it that threw out the basics "in favour of 'what does it mean to you?' and felt banners which, like fairy floss (candy floss) quickly dissolved and left nothing of value behind"?

The people that did that -- the people who gave us the hippie 70s -- were the same people who were raised on things like the Baltimore Catechism, people who could indeed repeat rote responses, but did not have the slightest clue about what any of it meant.


I have flipped through and read parts of Youcat and my spontaneous reaction was that it is entirely suitable for adults.


Bender you are quite correct in saying that "the people who gave us the hippie 70s" were raised on the Green Catechism but these same people didn't stop at the Green Catechism they went on to be ordained after 6+ years studying the Catholic Faith. They weren't the topic of my post and I apologise if I didn't make my point clearer.

My point was to praise a catechism which gives an orthodox "take home" message of the Faith for those who are unlikely to undertake further studies. I also expressed the hope that they would move on to, at least, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. When I taught catechetics to 11 and 12 year old students, I used the Green Catechism Q&A as a take home summary of what I had been teaching.

I quite agree with your point about rote responses - it is not enough to know the "right answers" we must believe what we are saying and come to a knowledge of and love for Jesus Christ. That is the whole purpose of the Church - to lead us to Christ.


I read today on www.chiesa that the original German edition and subsequent translations of YouCat contain "errors or debatable passages" concerning, among other things, the salvific value of non-Christian religions. Do these problems exist in the English translation published by Ignatius? I for one shall not pay one penny for a youth catechism that even remotely suggests to young Catholics that they needn't worry about evangelizing their non-Christian friends because the latter are saved in their own religions.

Comment from www.chiesa:

On April 13 there was the official presentation, at the Vatican, of the new Catechism for young people, "YouCat," which is expected to see massive distribution above all in view of the next World Youth Day.

But in both the original German edition and the translations into other languages, errors or debatable passages have been found, on issues that are not trivial: euthanasia, contraception, and the salvific value of non-Christian religions.

These errors have been covered on "Settimo Cielo," the companion blog to www.chiesa for readers of Italian.

In particular in the following posts:

> In Italia "YouCat" dice sì al preservativo, nel resto del mondo no (12.4.2011)

> Il catechismo dei giovani nasce vecchio. E casca sull'eutanasia (13.4.2011)

> Ancora sull'eutanasia. In "YouCat" si parla solo tedesco (15.4.2011)

> "Euthanasie" o "Sterbehilfe"? Martinetti: Il magistero parli più chiaro (16.4.2011)

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