Pope Benedict XVI has urged young people to study a youth catechism called “Youcat” published next month in advance of Madrid’s 2011 World Youth Day.
Writing in the foreword to the book, the Pope said: “Some people tell me that the youth of today are not interested in the catechism, but I do not believe this statement and I am certain that I am right. They are not as superficial as they are accused of being; young people want to know what life really is about.”
The book is written for teenagers and young adults and is the official catechism for World Youth Day. It includes a question and answer section, illustrations, definitions of key terms, Bible citations and quotes from the saints and other Church teachers.
In his foreword Benedict XVI said the book could be just as gripping as a crime novel.
He said: “A crime novel is compelling because it involves the fate of other people, but it could be our own, this book is compelling because it speaks to us of our own destiny and therefore is closely related to each of us.”
But he said the catechism did not offer “empty praise” or “easy solutions”, but “requires a new life on your part”. He urged young people “to study the catechism with passion and perseverance! Sacrifice your time for it!”
The Pope said: “You need to know what you believe, you need to know your faith with the same precision with which a computer specialist knows the operating system of a computer… You need divine help, so your faith does not dry up like a drop of dew in the sun, so you do not succumb to the temptations of consumerism, so your love is not drowned in pornography, so you do not betray the weak, the victims of abuse and violence”.
In the foreword the Pope wrote about the project to produce the official Catechism of the Catholic Church in the 1980s. He said it was a “difficult” period, when “many people did not know what Christians should really believe, what the Church teaches, if it can teach something outright, and how this might fit into the new cultural climate”.
Pope Benedict said he “was afraid of this task”, and that he had doubts over its success. He described its existence as a “miracle”, the labour of many meetings and “passionate discussions over individual texts”.