St. John Paul II’s greatest gift
What was the greatest gift that Pope St. John Paul II left the Church? Some talk about the impact of World Youth Day. I have heard others say his prolific teaching on the Theology of the Body will be his legacy.
What about his leadership in publishing the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)? The previous officially authorized catechism — the Roman Catechism — was published in 1566, just after the Council of Trent!
Do you remember the confusion that existed prior to the publication of the new catechism? I sure do. Confusion (aka dissent) among theologians was widespread and there was no definitive catechism that we as Catholics could point to as the official teaching of the Church. It was a confusing time for people who were genuinely searching for the truth, not to mention those who were looking for reasons behind specific Church teaching.
In the late 1980s, the Holy Father asked a group of cardinals and archbishops to work on developing a new universal catechism for the Church. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the president of the commission and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn was appointed editorial secretary. John Paul officially approved the new Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992.
Did you know that the CCC is a “universal catechism,” which means it is intended to be a resource for the development of other national (or local) catechisms? For example, from the CCC there is YOUCAT, a youth catechism. It’s the official catechism for World Youth Day and was written for youth and young adults. In 2006, the American bishops published the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, which has the same structure as the CCC, but also includes stories, reflections, quotations, discussion questions, and prayers in each chapter geared toward Americans.
To say that the Catechism is a great gift to the Church would be an understatement. Our mission in Legatus is to study, live and spread the faith, and we can only share that which we know. Whether you have read it before or not, I encourage every member to read the Catechism. I was looking at it the other day and realized that if you read just two pages a day, you would read through the whole book in about a year.
Lastly, as we continue to roll out Legatus’ new Awards & Recognition program, I want to take this opportunity to announce that we will recognize any member who reads the entire CCC (starting Oct. 1, 2015) by awarding them with a Catechism Completion pin!
TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Ann Arbor Chapter.