Transmission of Faith Depends on Catechesis, Says Pope

Says Parents and Educators Must Witness to What They Teach

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The future of the transmission of the faith and of the Church itself depends on catechesis, says John Paul II.



The Pope focused on catechesis in his address Friday to the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Paris, whom he met at the conclusion of their five-yearly visit to Rome.

The Holy Father mentioned the process of secularization under way in French society, which shows that "a first proclamation of the Gospel" is "necessary" virtually everywhere.

This phenomenon, however, is counterbalanced by signs of hope, such as that of the numerous young people and adults who request baptism.

"May the calls of the people who want 'to see Jesus' and who knock on the door of the Church help you to bring about a new springtime of evangelization and catechesis," the Pope told the French bishops.

Catechists must know that on their work depends "the future of the transmission of the faith and its being put into action," the Pontiff added. "The visibility of the Church of tomorrow also depends on it to a great extent."

In his address, delivered after the greeting addressed to him on behalf of the bishops by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris, the Holy Father offered fundamental guidelines for catechesis to become a genuine discovery of Christ.

Referring to the catechesis of children and young people, John Paul II said: "It is important to give them a religious and moral education of quality, which offers clear and solid elements of the faith that leads to an intense spiritual life, as a child is also 'capax Dei' [capable of God], as the Fathers of the Church said, to a sacramental life, and to a worthy and beautiful human life."

"For catechetical formation to become a solid nucleus of existence, it must be accompanied by regular religious practice," the Pope said. "How can the proposal made to children take root, and how can Christ transform their being and action from within, if they do not meet with him regularly?"

He continued: "Christian life cannot be based on a mere sociological attitude, nor on knowledge of some rudiments of the Christian message, which would not lead to participation in the life of the Church. It would be the sign that faith remains as something totally external to persons."

"Young people are particularly sensitive to consistency between people's words and their concrete lives," the Pope said. "How can young people become aware of the need to participate in Sunday Mass or of the practice of the sacrament of penance if their parents or teachers do not live such a religious and ecclesial life?"

The Holy Father added: "Daily witness is the seal of the authenticity of the teaching that is imparted."