VANCOUVER - Pope Benedict has given Catholics a mission during the Year of Faith: study the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
"In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool," the pope wrote in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith).
The catechism's 20th birthday Oct. 11 coincided with the opening of the Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
The pope had a large hand in the catechism's six-year development; he was the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time. He told the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera that the Catechism did not present any new doctrine and was "not a Ratzinger catechism."
"We did not have the right of creativity," he said. "A catechism is not the place to show the originality of a group of people."
Instead, he said, the catechism presents the Catholic faith in a modern context.
Patrick Gillespie, director of catechetics for the Vancouver Archdiocese, said the catechism is more than a reference book.
Catechetical resources have changed to come more into line with the catechism, he said.
Most programs now follow a "universal systematic way of presenting the faith," he said.
To help the faithful digest the teaching of the catechism the Church published the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 2005 and a compendium for younger Catholics called YouCat in 2011.