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|Congregation for the Clergy|
General Directory for Catechesis
IntraText CT - Text
261. The purpose of the various "associations, movements and groups of the faithful" (273) which develop in a particular Church is to help the disciples of Jesus Christ to fulfil their lay mission in the world and in the Church. In such associations Christians devote themselves to "the practice of piety, the direct apostolate, charity and relief work, or a Christian presence in temporal matters". (274) In all of these associations and movements it is always necessary to provide formation of some kind, in order to cultivate the fundamental aspects of the Christian life: "In fact they have the possibility, each with its own method, of offering a formation through a deeply shared experience in the apostolic life as well as having the opportunity to integrate, to make concrete and specific the formation that their members receive from other persons and communities". (275) Catechesis is always a basic dimension in the formation of the laity. Usually, these organizations have "special times for catechesis". (276) Such catechesis is not an alternative for Christian formation. Rather it is one of its fundamental aspects.
a) The "proper nature" (277) of catechesis must be respected by developing the richness of its content through the threefold dimension of word, memory and witness (doctrine, celebration and commitment in life). (278) Catechesis, whatever the "way" in which it is given, is always a basic organic formation in the faith. It must, however, include "a serious study of Christian doctrine", (279) and it must constitute a serious religious formation "open to all the... factors of the Christian life". (280)
b) This is not an impediment to accomplishing the objectives proper to the various associations and movements—with their own charisms. With different emphases, catechesis must always remain faithful to its own nature. Education in the spirituality proper to a particular movement or association enriches the Church and is a natural continuation of the basic formation received by all Christians. Firstly, it is necessary to educate in what is common to all the members of the Church, before educating in what is particular and diverse.
c) It is necessary to affirm that movements and associations, as far as catechesis is concerned, are not alternatives to the parish since this is the educational community to which reference must be made by catechesis. (281)
273) Cf. CT 70.
274) CT 70 mentions those associations, movements and groups of faithful in which the catechetical aspects of their formation are attended to but which do not give rise, properly speaking, to environments of chatechizing.
275) ChL 62.
276) CT 67.
277) CT 47b.
278) CT 47b.
279) CT 47. In this text Pope John Paul II speaks of diverse groups of young people: groups of Catholic action, prayer groups, groups for Christian reflection... he asks that in these there should also be a serious study of Christian doctrine. Catechesis should always be considered an essential part in the apostolic life of the laity.
280) Cf. CT 21.
281) Cf. CT 67b-c.
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