As the Catholic Church embarks on the mission of teaching the Christian faith, the new (2020) lays the how-to guidelines for catechesis and presents universal norms to guide pastors and catechists in the work of evangelization. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization presents the to guide the proclamation of the Gospel by the Christian faithful to people of all ages and in all seasons of life.
The new Directory seeks to highlight the close link between evangelization and catechesis. It underlines that every baptized person is a missionary called to find new ways of communicating the faith with commitment and responsibility. In this regard, the new Directory proposes three major principles of action: Witnessing, Mercy and Dialogue. The new Directory contains over 300 pages and is made up of 3 parts divided into 12 chapters.
Formation of Catechists
The first part, entitled “Catechesis in the evangelizing mission of the Church,” treats the formation of catechists.
The Directory points out that in order to be credible witnesses of the faith, catechists have to be catechized before being catechists. This involves working with gratuitousness, dedication and integrity, according to a missionary spirituality that is an antidote to sterile pastoral fatigue.
Catechists are also called to be vigilant in performing their specific tasks so that absolute protection is guaranteed to every person, particularly to minors and vulnerable persons.
The second part, “The process of catechesis” underscores the importance of a profound and effective communicative model. It proposes the use of art through the contemplation of beauty as a means of connecting with God, and sacred music as a way of instilling the desire for God in the heart of people.
The role of the family also comes to the fore. There those being evangelized can live the faith in a simple and spontaneous way. It is also where people can receive a Christian education in a humble and compassionate manner.
A culture of inclusion
The Directory also highlights the importance of “welcoming and recognizing” the differently-abled. It stresses that they are witnesses to the essential truths of human life and are to be welcomed as a great gift. Their families also are deserving of respect and admiration.
In the same way, catechesis should focus on acceptance, trust and solidarity for migrants, who, far from their homeland, may experience a crisis of faith. Migrants are to be supported in the fight against prejudices and the serious dangers they may face, such as human trafficking.
Preferential option for the poor, catechesis for prisoners
The Directory calls for attention to be given to prisons describing them as an “authentic mission land.” It proposes that for prisoners, catechesis should be the proclamation of salvation in Christ, as well as caring listening which shows the maternal face of the Church.
As regards the poor, catechesis should educate people about evangelical poverty. It should also promote a culture of fraternity and foster indignation among the faithful against situations of misery and injustice suffered by the poor.
Parishes, schools and Church associations
The third part, entitled “Catechesis in Particular Churches” is dedicated to catechesis in parishes, ecclesiastical movements and other Church associations.
Parishes are highlighted as examples of community apostolate which should provide creative catechesis adapted to people’s lived experiences. Other Church associations are also recognized as having a great evangelizing capacity that adds to the Church's richness.
Regarding Catholic schools, the Directory proposes a movement from being "scholastic institutions" to becoming "scholastic communities" of faith with an educational project based on Gospel values. It also notes that teaching religion is distinct from, but complementary to, catechism.
Stressing that the religious factor is an existential dimension that should not be overlooked, the Directory affirms that it is the right of parents and students to receive an integral formation that takes the teaching of religion into account.
Cultural and religious pluralism
The Directory points out that ecumenism and interreligious dialogue with Judaism and Islam is a special area for catechesis. Catechesis must encourage the desire for unity in order for it to be a true instrument of evangelization.
It calls for a dialogue that combats anti-Semitism and promotes peace and justice with Judaism. At the same time, it urges the faithful to avoid superficial generalizations in order to foster dialogue with Islam.
In our contemporary context of religious pluralism, the Directory calls for catechesis that can deepen and strengthen the identity of believers promoting their missionary impetus through witnessing as well as friendly and cordial dialogue.
Technology and the digital world
The Directory reaffirms that science and technology are at the service of the person and should be directed towards improving the living conditions of humanity.
It proposes that catechesis should be directed towards educating people on the proper use of digital culture, which has both good and bad elements. Catechesis should also focus on helping young people distinguish between truth and quality amid the culture of instantaneous.
Other themes highlighted by the Directory include the call to a profound ecological conversion. Catechesis promotes this conversion through attention to the safeguarding of creation and the avoidance of consumerism.
It also highlights that catechesis is to inspire labor according to the Social Doctrine of the Church with special attention to the defense of the rights of the weakest. In addition, it encourages the development of catechetical material produced on the local level and organization at the service of catechesis including the Synod of Bishops and Episcopal Conferences.