Catechism's power celebrated

Archbishop Michael Miller says Canada's bishops have distributed more than 10,000 copies of the youth catechism called YOUCAT.


Archbishop Michael Miller says Canada's bishops have distributed more than 10,000 copies of the youth catechism called YOUCAT.

October 29, 2012

TORONTO – The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the best comprehensive presentation of the Catholic faith in hundreds of years, said Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller.

"It's the distillation of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council," said Miller.

The 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church runs parallel to the Year of Faith, which kicked off Oct. 11.

Today, the catechism is used in various settings, including RCIA programs, upper-level high school or college courses, study groups and as a personal reference tool, said Miller. "And references are constantly made to it in books that you read on homiletics and preaching."

It's an important resource because it brings together the core teachings of the Catholic Church under three categories: the Church's doctrinal positions, Christian practices and worship, said Michael Attridge, a theology professor at Toronto's University of St. Michael's College.

But if people believe the only thing necessary to live a good, full Catholic life is to read the catechism, that is a downside, said Attridge.

"People need to study the Bible, they need to involve themselves in parish organizations, organizations that promote social justice, they need to educate themselves by going to theological school and to ask questions that relate to faith and Christian living."

Since its creation, the publications service of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has sold 222,787 copies of the catechism in English and French, said René Laprise, director of media relations for the CCCB.

In addition, 45,673 copies of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church have been sold through the CCCB.

Miller added that in the Vancouver Archdiocese, there's currently a big push on YOU-CAT: The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church.

"We've distributed more than 10,000 copies of YOUCAT to parishes because it's in some ways far more accessible and user-friendly for the level of knowledge of religion that most people have."


Had it not been for the anniversary of the catechism, Miller doesn't think the archdiocese would have come up with such an initiative. While the catechism is the standard, he said he believes YOUCAT is more in tune with how people today learn and read.

"As much as we might lament the loss – as I do – of plunging through big books, most people today read in small bits and they're used to more pictorial representations. . . . It's just the way things are."