Update: I have new misgivings about the YOUCAT, as addressed in this post. Still, my overall impression is positive and I wouldn’t recommend against using it.
The YOUCAT – Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, to be launched on World Youth Day – has been in the news of late, due to some bizarre errors in the Italian translation. But not to worry – that version has been pulled for revision, and the English-language version from Ignatius Press is a resource I would strongly recommend for parish catechesis, homeschooling, and as a classroom text.
With any text that’s designed “for the youth,” there’s always a risk of pandering to the reader in an attempt to make the text stylistically appealing. I think the YOUCAT gets it just about right. You can check out pdf sample pages via the Ignatius Press website; the font choices, size, and feel of the book are modern and attention-grabbing without coming across as cheesy or soon-to-be-dated. I love the winsome stick figure illustrations at the bottom of each page (hint: it’s a catechism AND a flipbook) that draw the reader’s eye to focus on the meaning behind the text. The book is small enough to be portable while still dense with information.
So, why another version of the catechism just For The Youth? Well, that was my original question, but I think this book definitely meets a need. It succinctly explains essential Catholic teaching in a manner that is accurate but not too wordy, and it provides the relevant Scripture references and citations in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. The margins offer clarification of definitions and quotes from Scripture, the Catechism, and the lives of spiritual leaders throughout our history as a church. In the past, I’ve used the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults as a classroom text with high school students, and while it was more readable than the official Catechism, I would use the YOUCAT instead, given the opportunity. It’s not that the lingo is hip-for-the-teenz or anything, but its tone and conciseness are just a bit more appropriate for young people.
I was particularly impressed by Pope Benedict’s foreword, which speaks forthrightly to the hearts of to young people.
You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless.
And hear how directly he addresses the pedophilia crisis and the impact it may have on evangelization:
You all know how deeply the community of faith has been wounded recently through the attacks of the evil one, through the penetration of sin itself into the interior, yes, into the heart of the Church. Do not make that an excuse to flee from the face of God! You yourselves are the Body of Christ, the Church! Bring the undiminished fire of your love into this Church whose countenance has so often been disfigured by man.
The layout of the book feels very “Internet.” There are little arrows next to major terms that feel like they should be hyperlinks; I would love it if this were eventually available in a pumped-up e-book form or if there were a web version of the text that allowed for users to click around from one section to another or learn more about the saints and Biblical figures quoted.
This is definitely an exciting resource for World Youth Day and I look forward to seeing the impact this text has on youth evangelization.
(I apologize for the corniness of this post title. I was pandering to the youth.)