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|Congregation for the Clergy|
General Directory for Catechesis
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58. The evangelization of the world finds itself placed in a very diversified and changing religious panorama, in which it is possible to distinguish three basic situations (171) requiring particular and precise responses.
a) The situation of those "peoples, groups and socio-cultural contexts in which Christ and his Gospel are not known, or which lack Christian communities sufficiently mature to be able to incarnate the faith in their own environment and proclaim it to other groups". (172) This situation requires a "mission ad gentes", (173) where missionary activity is concentrated preferably toward young people and adults. Its particular characteristic consists in the fact that it is directed to non-Christians and invites them to conversion. In this context catechesis is usually developed within the baptismal catechumenate.
b) There are, moreover, situations in which, in a definite socio-cultural context, "there are Christian communities with adequate and solid ecclesial structures. They are fervent in their faith and in Christian living. They bear witness to the Gospel in their surroundings and have a sense of commitment to the Universal mission". (174) These communities demand an intense "pastoral action of the Church" since they are made up of people and families of profound Christian outlook. In such contexts it is vital that catechesis for children, adolescents and young people develop various processes of well articulated Christian initiation which permit these to arrive at adulthood with mature faith which makes evangelizers of those who have been evagelized. Also in these situations adults are also in need of different types of Christian formation.
c) In many countries of established Christian tradition and sometimes in younger Churches there exists "an intermediate situation", (175) where "entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel". (176) Such situations require "a new evangelization". The peculiar nature of this situation is found in the fact that missionary activity is directed towards the baptized of all ages, who live in a religious context in which Christian points of reference are perceived purely exteriorly. Here primary proclamation and basic catechesis are priorities.
171) Cf. RM 33.
172) RM 33b.
173) RM 33b. It is important to be cognisant of the parameters (fines) that RM assigns to the "mission ad gentes". This is not restricted solely to territorial parameters (RM 37) but also to new social environments and phenomena (RM 37) such as large cities, youth, migration and to cultural areas and modern fora (RM 37) such as modern communications, science and ecology. In virtue of this a particular Church already rooted in a particular territory carries on a missio ad gentes not only ad extra but also ad intra.
174) RM 33c.
175) RM 33d.
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