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|Congregation for the Clergy|
General Directory for Catechesis
IntraText CT - Text
257. The parish is, without doubt, the most important locus in which the Christian community is formed and expressed. This is called to be a fraternal and welcoming family where Christians become aware of being the people of God. (257) In the parish, all human differences melt away and are absorbed into the universality of the Church. (258) The parish is also the usual place in which the faith is born and in which it grows. It constitutes, therefore, a very adequate community space for the realization of the ministry of the word at once as teaching, education and life experience.
Today, the parish is undergoing profound transformation in many countries. Social changes are having repercussions on the parish especially in big cities "shaken by the phenomenon of urbanization". (259) Despite this, "the parish is still a major point of reference for the Christian people, even for the non-practising". (260) It must however, continue " to be the prime mover and pre-eminent place for catechesis", (261) while recognising that in certain occasions, it cannot be the centre of gravity for all of the ecclesial functions of catechesis and must integrate itself into other institutions.
a) Adult catechesis (262) must be given priority. This involves "a post-baptismal catechesis, in the form of a catechumenate, ...presenting again some elements from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults with the purpose of allowing a person to grasp and live the immense, extraordinary richness and responsibility received at Baptism". (263)
b) With renewed courage, the proclamation of the Gospel to those alienated or who live in religious indifference (264) must be planned. In this task, pre-sacramental meetings (preparation for Marriage, Baptism and First Holy Communion of children) can be fundamental. (265)
c) As a solid reference point for parochial catechesis it is necessary to have a nucleus of mature Christians, initiated into the faith, to whom different pastoral concerns can be entrusted. This objective can be more easily achieved by the formation of small ecclesial communities. (266)
257) Cf. CT 67c.
258) Cf. AA 10.
259) CT 67b.
262) The importance of adult catechesis is underlined in CT 43 and DCG (1971) 20.
263) ChL 61.
264) Cf. EN 52.
265) Cf. DCG (1971) 96c.
266) It is important to state as Pope John Paul II does in ChL 61 the usefulness of small ecclesial groups in the context of parishes. They should not however be a parallel movement which absorbs the best members of parishes: "internal to the parish, especially if vast and territorially extensive, small Church communities, where present, can be a notable help in the formation of Christians by providing a consciousness and an experience of ecclesial communion and mission which are more extensive and incisive".
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