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Congregation for the Clergy
General Directory for Catechesis

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    • CHAPTER II "This is our faith this is the faith of the Church"
      • Catechisms in the local Churches
        • Aspects of adaptation in a local catechism
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Aspects of adaptation in a local catechism


133. The Catechism of the Catholic Church indicates those aspects which must be taken into account when adapting or contextualizing the organic synthesis of the faith which every local catechism must offer. This synthesis of the faith must exhibit the adaptations which are required by "the differences of culture, age, spiritual maturity, and social and ecclesial conditions among all those to whom it is addressed". (457) The Second Vatican Council also emphatically affirms the need for adapting the Gospel Message: "Indeed, this kind of adaptation and preaching of the revealed word must ever be the law of all evangelization". (458) Hence:

– The local catechism must present the synthesis of the faith with reference to the particular culture in which catechumens and those to be catechized are immersed. It will, however, incorporate all those "original expressions of life, of celebrations and of thought which are Christian",(459) proper to a particular cultural tradition and are the fruits of the work and inculturation of the local Church.

– The local catechism, "faithful to the message and to the human person", (460) presents the Christian message in a meaningful way and is close to the psychology and mentality of those for whom it is intended. Consequently, it will refer clearly to the fundamental experiences of their lives. (461)

– It shall pay attention in a special way to the concrete manner in which religion is lived in a given society. It is not, for example, the same thing to prepare a catechism for a society permeated by religious indifference as it is for a profoundly religious context. (462) The relationship between belief and science must be treated with great care in every catechism.

Problems arising from social conditions, especially those arising from its more profound structural elements (economics, politics, family) are a factor in the contextualization of a catechism. Drawing inspiration from the social teaching of the Church, the Catechism will offer criteria, motivations and modes of action to highlight the Christian presence in these critical situations. (463)

Finally, the concrete ecclesial situation lived by a particular Church shall provide the context to which a catechism must make reference. Obviously one does not refer hereby to contingent situations, which are addressed by other magisterial documents, but to the more permanent situation which demands a more specific and appropriate evangelization. (464)

456) Cf. part IV, chapter 1.

457) CCC 24.

458) GS 44.

459) CT 53a.

460) Cf. CT 55c; MPD 7; DCG (1971) 34.

461) Cf. CT 36-45.

462) Local catechisms must give attention to the question and orientation of popular devotions (cf. EN 48; CT 54 and CCC 1674-1676). Equally they should be concerned with ecumenical dialogue (cf. CT 32-34; CCC 817-822) and with inter-religious dialogue (cf. EN 53; RM 55-57 and CCC 839-845).

463) LC 72 distinguishes between "principles of reflection", "criteria of judgement" and "directives for action" which the Church offers in her social doctrine. A catechism should also distinguish these various levels.

464) It refers fundamentally to "the different socio-religious situations" faced by evangelization. These are examined in Part I, chap. I.

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