The new Catechism of the Catholic Church for young people, YouCat, will be released in April, and is being published in UK and Ireland by CTS. We can see from the introduction, written by Pope Benedict XVI, that the Holy Father believes in young people and sees this book as important and challenging for those who seek God.
Much has been said and written about the relationship between this Pope’s predecessor and young people. His greatest contribution to fostering the young was the enduring phenomenon of the World Youth Days. John Paul II gave up an acting career as a young man to pursue his vocation, and God’s reward was to make him the most seen man in human history, and with no greater auditorium than these mass gatherings of shared witness and worship.
Pope Benedict in his turn is a gifted teacher, and so God has given him a very large class of pupils to look after and form in the faith; and he has, at every opportunity, continued the work of Pope John Paul by speaking to young people in an uncompromising yet loving way.
In the introduction to YouCat, he writes:
“Many people say to me: The youth of today are not interested in this [Catholic doctrine]. I disagree, and I am certain that I am right. The youth of today are not as superficial as some think. They want to know what life is really all about.”
A different attitude
Here in Britain, we have lived through the era of the ASBO, and a certain amount of fear of children, especially with regards to teenagers and young people, has taken hold.
Some see these young people as problems to be solved, statistics to be manipulated or a demographic to be targeted, but Pope Benedict holds a different view, one he also outlined during his visit to Britain six months ago.
Speaking at St Mary’s college in Twickenham, the Pope said:
“I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.”
“You need God’s help”
And here again with YouCat, Pope Benedict shows that a true teacher instructs and corrects his students out of love, defending them and fighting for them, as he explains:
“You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing.
“Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination.
“You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless.”
These are strong words from a Pope who clearly deeply believes in, loves, and cares for young people.
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