Apostolic Exhortation on Catechesis in Our Time
Pope John Paul II
October 16, 1979
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In 1977, the synod of bishops met in Rome to discuss the theme, "Catechesis in our time, with
reference to the catechesis of children and young people." This synod was a follow-up of the
evangelization that had taken place three years earlier with its ensuing document on
Evangelii Nuntiandi, which was to spark new zeal in the spread of the Christian message.
two synods, 1974 and 1977, are twins in the ministry of the Word. Due to the work of the
terms, evangelization and catechesis, were clearly defined.|
Evangelization is the beginning stage, the first encounter and decision to embrace the
catechesis is the deepening, the instruction in the doctrine once the faith-decision has been
The work of 1974 and its resulting apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, became
the study material in preparation for the catechesis synod. Two documents prepared by the
resulted from the catechesis synod. One, Message to the People of God,
was publicly presented at the end of the sessions on October 29, 1977.
The second document, consisting of thirty-four propositions and ca. One
thousand amendments to the propositions, was sent privately to Pope Paul VI. As had been
at the 1974 evangelization synod, the bishops requested that a magisterial document be written in
summary of the deliberations.
The Message to the People of God first established the distinguishing elements
evangelization and catechesis. The starting point, evangelization, is ideally followed by, as the
states, "continued growth and maturation in faith." Catechesis should
process. The bishops of the synod defined catechesis as "every ecclesial activity which seeks to
about growth in faith."
In regard to Marian catechesis, an American contribution at the synod was presented by
Carberry of St. Louis. Carberry's theme was, "The Role of the Blessed Virgin Mary In
Catechetics." It is
from this talk that Pope John Paul II eventually picked up the phrases: Mary, a "compendium of
catechetics," and she is "a living catechism."
Pope John Paul II stated that the General Catechetical Directory of 1971 was to
the norm for catechesis, and specialists were to be called upon to define the various meanings
branches of catechesis.
- Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin, "Introduction," Synod of Bishops-
1977: Message to the People of God and Interventions of the U.S. Delegates, Washington,
DC: USCC, 1978, 2.
- Bernardin, 2.
- John Joseph Carberry, "The Role of the Blessed Virgin Mary In
Synod of Bishops-1977: Message to the People of God and Interventions of the U.S. Delegates,
Washington, DC: USCC, 1978, 23.
| I. ||We Have But One Teacher, Jesus Christ
| II. || An Experience as Old as the Church
| III. ||Catechesis in the Church's Pastoral and
Missionary Activity 18-25
| IV. ||The Whole of the Good News Drawn from Its
| V. ||Everybody Needs To Be Catechized
| VI. ||Some Ways and Means of Catechesis
| VII. ||How To Impart Catechesis
| VIII. ||The Joy of Faith in a Troubled World
| IX. ||The Task Concerns Us All
| Conclusion 72-73|
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The document can be found at: Catechesi Tradendae,1979|
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AAS 71-10-16 (1979):1278-1340|
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This source: L'Osservatore Romano, English Edition
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