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Theological problems with the Youcat may force us to discontinue selling it

by Ian on August 12, 2011

Youcat

Youcat - Theologically wrong or just really muddy?

We recently received comments about theological problems with the Youcat that we believe are probably serious enough for us to quit carrying the book. I sent the following comments to Ignatius Press and Mark Brumley, the president of Ignatius, was gracious enough to take the time to write an extensive reply. Please read both our comments and his carefully and then let us know what you think at the bottom of this post in our poll and leave comments if the poll doesn't say enough for you. Also, if you've noticed any other problems with the book that relate to the theological content please leave them in the comments. As you read below, keep in mind the level of knowledge of the Faith that the average Catholic teenager has.

Our Comments

The Youcat has been one of our bestselling books of 2011. When it was announced we were excited that an "official" catechism for teens had been written. Because of the glowing endorsement from Pope Benedict XVI and because it was published by Ignatius Press we didn't look through it as thoroughly as we would have had it come from a different source.

When the initial criticisms were leveled against the Italian edition for its flat out wrong statements on contraception and euthanasia, we went back to the English edition to confirm that we hadn't missed something. Those problems weren't in the English edition and Fr. Fessio issued a press release stating that the English edition was free from the errors that caused the Italian edition to be pulled for a rewrite.

We offered the Youcat for review on TiberRiver.com and it received mixed reviews but the criticisms were about style, a couple of pictures and a quote from a notorious non-Catholic philosopher. We discussed this at work and decided that we would continue to carry it because nothing had been pointed out that contradicted the doctrine of the Church. This may sound strange, but we actually have meetings about product content. A similar meeting about the Saint Mary's Press Catholic Youth Bible led us to add an explanatory note to our description because of a lack of clarity in one of the publisher comments.

Another problem we have had with the Youcat is that it lacks an imprimatur for the English edition. The actual imprimatur reads:

Austrian Bishops' Conference Imprimatur, Austrian Bishops' Conference with the approval of the German Bishops' Conference, November 29,2010; the Swiss Bishops' Conference, December 6, 2010 with the prior approval of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

What I think this convoluted mess means is that an imprimatur was given for the German edition but not for any other language. There is a good explanation of the use of imprimaturs by Catholics United for the Faith but the issue of whether or not distinct translations each need an imprimatur is not addressed. With the debacle of the Italian edition it seems that there should have been a concerted effort by each bishops' conference to take a close look at their language's edition to avoid similar embarrassment. It doesn't appear that this was done. I actually sent a note to Ignatius Press several months ago mentioning my concern about the lack of an imprimatur specifically for the English edition. I was told my concerns would be forwarded.

So now we get to the specific, theological issues with the book. I don't take any credit for finding these problems but I am not going to link to the source as the original author has wandered off into some questionable theories of his own which in no way lessen the criticism leveled at the Youcat.

Homosexuality

#65 What about people who feel they are homosexual?

The Church believes that, in the order of creation, man and woman are designed to need each other's complimentary traits and to enter into a mutual relationship so as to give life to children. That is why homosexual practices cannot be approved by the Church...

Nothing is mentioned about homosexual acts being intrinsically sinful but that's not all:

There is no man on earth who is not descended from a union of a mother and father. Therefore it is a painful experience for many homosexually oriented people that they do not feel erotically attracted to the opposite sex and necessarily miss out on the physical fruitfulness of the union between man and woman according to human nature and the divine order of creation.

Two problems here. The entire issue of test tube babies is ignored to make an emotional play. Second, it is just assumed that homosexuality is a naturally existing condition without any caveat.

#415 What is the Church's judgement on homosexuality?

...At the same time, the Church declares that all homosexual relations in any form are contrary to the order of creation.

First of all, why are the sections about homosexuality broken up into different parts of the Catechism? The first quotes are from the section about the nature of man. The second is from the section on the sixth commandment. The fact that the Youcat brings up homosexuality in the nature of man and then assumes that people are born that way is a serious problem. In this later section, what average teen is going to make the jump that "contrary to the order of creation" = "mortal sin"? I wouldn't place bets on it.

Masturbation

#408 Is masturbation an offense against love?

Masturbation is an offense against love, because it makes the excitement of sexual pleasure an end in itself and uncouples it from the holistic unfolding of love between a man and a woman. That is why "sex with yourself" is a contradiction in terms.

The Church does not demonize masturbation, but she warns against trivializing it...

Aren't you glad that the Church doesn't demonize mortal sin? Obviously, there can be varying degrees of culpability but the fact that the word sin doesn't even get mentioned is a grave offense on its own.

Creation

#51 If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, why does he not prevent evil?

"God allows evil only so as to make something better result from it" (St. Thomas Aquinas).

Evil in the world is an obscure and painful mystery. Even the Crucified asked his Father, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mat 27:46). Much about it is incomprehensible. One thing, though, we know for sure: God is 100 percent good. He can never be the originator of something evil. God created the world to be good, but it is not yet complete. In violent upheavals and painful processes it is being shaped and moved towards its final perfection. That may be a better way to classify what the Church calls physical evil, for example, a birth defect, or a natural catastrophe...

Okay, God didn't create the world "to be good". He created it good or He lied. This wacky explanation of the state of the world doesn't even mention original sin but introduces this un-Catholic notion that the world is "evolving" towards perfection. No it isn't. There isn't any indication that we are closer to perfection than we were 2000 or 4000 years ago. It is quite probable that when the world ends we will be so far from perfect that the world won't even be recognizable as God's creation. Yes, God will perfect the world but it isn't a perfection of this world, that's a Jehovah's Witness belief.

There is also a slam on people (they are "naive") who take the Bible at face value on the creation of the world taking six days even though the Pontifical Bible Commission has stated that the Church doesn't take a position on the literal or literary view of the creation story.

Because of these issues we are revoking our Good Faith seal from the Youcat and discontinuing it even though it has been our best selling book this year. I am very concerned that thousands of these doctrinally faulty books are being given out to the youth at World Youth Day endorsed as the official catechism of the event by the Pope. I can only assume that his endorsement was given to the German edition and that he either took someone else's word on the soundness of the text or that the German text is actually sound.

Mr. Brumley's Reply

Father Fessio forwarded your message. He may reply to you but he is traveling today, so it may be a while before you hear back. Later today I'll send some of my thoughts on your criticisms. One thing you should know now, though, is that the English edition of YOUCAT has received the imprimatur from the Archbishop of San Francisco. The next printing of YOUCAT will include it. It's complicated why the initial printings did not have it. However, the reason has nothing to do with any theological issues with the translation or other aspects of the book's content.

....

Ok.  I am finally in a position to reply to the rest of your email.  Father Fessio may do so as well, but as I said, he is traveling so it will likely be a while if he does.

 

With respect to your theological criticisms I would make a number of observations.   A general point would be that merely human books aren't perfect and that statement includes catechisms such as YOUCAT.  As I read YOUCAT, I can find questions and answers I would have phrased differently or points I would have given more emphasis or less emphasis. Maybe it's overconfidence in my own judgment for me to set set myself up as good critic of catechisms, but whether or not that is so, it remains true that catechisms, notwithstanding the fact that they have ecclesiastical approval, aren't beyond critique.  The key point in this case, though, seems to be that just because one might, let’s suppose, validly criticize this or that point, doesn't mean YOUCAT is seriously doctrinally flawed or should not be sold by a conscientious Catholic bookseller.   I don’t think YOUCAT is beyond criticism but I would reject the claim that YOUCAT is gravely flawed or shouldn't be sold in a Catholic bookstore.

 

Now on to specific criticisms.

 

1.  Homosexuality.  You quote part of the answer from YOUCAT # 65:

#65 What about people who feel they are homosexual?

The Church believes that, in the order of creation, man and woman are designed to need each other's complimentary traits and to enter into a mutual relationship so as to give life to children. That is why homosexual practices cannot be approved by the Church...

Nothing is mentioned about homosexual acts being intrinsically sinful but that's not all:

There is no man on earth who is not descended from a union of a mother and father. Therefore it is a painful experience for many homosexually oriented people that they do not feel erotically attracted to the opposite sex and necessarily miss out on the physical fruitfulness of the union between man and woman according to human nature and the divine order of creation.

Two problems here. The entire issue of test tube babies is ignored to make an emotional play. Second, it is just assumed that homosexuality is a naturally existing condition without any caveat.

The issue of test tube babies is not addressed in this specific answer but it is addressed in YOUCAT #423.  I don't know what to make of your claim that the answer above "make[s] an emotional play", so I'll not comment on it.  But the claim that "it is just assumed that homosexuality is a naturally existing condition without any caveat" is just plain false. YOUCAT #65 refers to the complementarity of man and woman as being "in the order of creation".  It also indicates that this complementarity is "why homosexual practices cannot be approved by the Church".  Furthermore, as the part of the answer you quote makes clear, same-sex attraction causes homosexual persons "necessarily [to] miss out on the physical fruitfulness of the union between man and woman according to human nature and the divine order of creation". It is clear that the union of man and woman is "according to human nature and the divine order of creation" and that homosexuality is not.  Thus, it is inaccurate to claim that in YOUCAT "it is just assumed that homosexuality is a naturally existing condition without any caveat."

Moreover, your criticism doesn't appear adequately to consider the context of the Q & A #65.  It follows the discussion (Q & A # 64) of God's creation of man male and female, where YOUCAT states, "God made man in such a way that he is male or female and longs for fulfillment and completion in ane counter with the opposite sex."  Such a statement might reasonably be expected to lead in our day to the question, "What about people who feel they are homosexual?" That's why the next Q & A, #65, poses exactly that question.  While the words "intrinsically sinful" don't appear, the essential point of the concept is there: homosexuality is not part of the "order of creation" and "homosexual practices cannot be approved by the Church".  I take it that most reasonable readers will understand answers ##64-65 to mean that homosexual practices are "intrinsically sinful", not that they may or may not be sinful, depending on circumstances; or that it is just a prudential matter of whether the Church allows homosexual acts.

On the subject of homosexuality, I am perplexed by why your comments don't include Q & A # 415 (crossreferenced in YOUCAT #65):

What is the Church’s judgment on homosexuality?

God created man as male and female and destined them for each other in a bodily way as well. The Church accepts without reservation those who experience homosexual feelings. They (persons who experience homosexual feelings) should not be unjustly discriminated against because of that. At the same time, the Church declares that all homosexual relations in any form are contrary to the order of creation. [2358–2359] 65

It seems to me that YOUCAT is pretty clear when it states that "all homosexual relations in any form are contrary to the order of creation".  And of course the CCC's teaching on homosexuality is crossrefenced here [2358-2359]. How, then, can you claim that " it is just assumed that homosexuality is a naturally existing condition without any caveat"?

2. Masturbation.  You write:

#408 Is masturbation an offense against love?

Masturbation is an offense against love, because it makes the excitement of sexual pleasure an end in itself and uncouples it from the holistic unfolding of love between a man and a woman. That is why "sex with yourself" is a contradiction in terms.

The Church does not demonize masturbation, but she warns against trivializing it...

Aren't you glad that the Church doesn't demonize mortal sin? Obviously, there can be varying degrees of culpability but the fact that the word sin doesn't even get mentioned is a grave offense on its own.

The answer about masturbation is trying to steer a middle course between a view that regards masturbation as the worst evil (that is obviously what is meant by "demonizing") and one that treats it as a trivial matter.  Perhaps YOUCAT does not do as good a job as it might in underscoring the evil of masturbation. But it is clearly presented as a "grave offense", even though those particular two words are not used.  The question asks, "Is masturbation an offense against love?" It doesn't ask whether masturbation is a just bad idea or less than fully loving or possibly a problem.  And the answer to the question is direct and clear: "Masturbation is an offense against love …".

The full answer is:

Masturbation is an offense against love, because it makes the excitement of sexual pleasure an end in itself and uncouples it from the holistic unfolding of love between a man and a woman. That is why “sex with yourself” is a contradiction in terms. [2352]

The Church does not demonize masturbation, but she warns against trivializing it. In fact many young people and adults are in danger of becoming isolated in their consumption of lewd pictures, films, and Internet services instead of finding love in a personal relationship. Loneliness can lead to a blind alley in which masturbation becomes an addiction. Living by the motto “For sex I do not need anyone; I will have it myself, however and whenever I need it” makes nobody happy.

 

The above answer is given in the context where sexual relations have already been explained as intend between a man and a woman who are married to one another.  You may wish that YOUCAT had used the words "grave offense" or "sin".  But it does not seem fair or accurate to suggest that the answer YOUCAT gives on this topic is doctrinally faulty, simply because those particular words aren't used in its answer here.

 

3. Creation.  You write:

Creation

#51 If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, why does he not prevent evil?

"God allows evil only so as to make something better result from it" (St. Thomas Aquinas).

Evil in the world is an obscure and painful mystery. Even the Crucified asked his Father, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mat 27:46). Much about it is incomprehensible. One thing, though, we know for sure: God is 100 percent good. He can never be the originator of something evil. God created the world to be good, but it is not yet complete. In violent upheavals and painful processes it is being shaped and moved towards its final perfection. That may be a better way to classify what the Church calls physical evil, for example, a birth defect, or a natural catastrophe...

Okay, God didn't create the world "to be good". He created it good or He lied.

This wacky explanation of the state of the world doesn't even mention original sin but introduces this un-Catholic notion that the world is "evolving" towards perfection. No it isn't. There isn't any indication that we are closer to perfection than we were 2000 or 4000 years ago. It is quite probable that when the world ends we will be so far from perfect that the world won't even be recognizable as God's creation. Yes, God will perfect the world but it isn't a perfection of this world, that's a Jehovah's Witness belief.

There is also a slam on people (they are "naive") who take the Bible at face value on the creation of the world taking six days even though the Pontifical Bible Commission has stated that the Church doesn't take a position on the literal or literary view of the creation story.

To be very frank, I am not following much of your argument above.

a. To say that God created the world to be good is not to deny he created the world good.  So I don't understand your objection here.

b. You say, "This wacky explanation of the state of the world doesn't even mention original sin but introduces this un-Catholic notion that the world is 'evolving' towards perfection."  I'll set aside your use of the word "wacky".  Your comments sound as if you understand YOUCAT #51 to be claiming that the world is evolving or improving in every way or moving in most ways toward perfection.  But (1) the Q & A doesn't use the word "evolving", contrary to what one might infer from your statement above.  And in fact (2) Q & A #51 isn't talking about some all-encompassing evolution.  It's clear from the context that the Q & A addresses the issue of physical evil and moral evil, in their respective roles, and God's permitting them as part of a process leading the world, as YOUCAT puts it, "towards its final perfection", a process that involves allowing evil in order to bring about some particular good. Here is the whole thing:

If God is all-knowing and all-powerful,why does he not prevent evil?

“God allows evil only so as to make something better result from it” (St. Thomas Aquinas). [309–314, 324]

Evil in the world is an obscure and painful mystery. Even the Crucified asked his Father, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). Much about it is incomprehensible. One thing, though, we know for sure: God is 100 percent good. He can never be the originator of something evil. God created the world to be good, but it is not yet complete. In violent upheavals and painful processes it is being shaped and moved toward its final perfection. That may be a better way to classify what the Church calls physical evil, for example, a birth defect, or a natural catastrophe. Moral evils, in contrast, come about through the misuse of freedom in the world. “Hell on earth”—child soldiers, suicide bombings, concentration camps—is usually man-made. The decisive question is therefore not,“How can anyone believe in a good God when there is so much evil?” but rather, “How could a person with a heart and understanding endure life in this world if God did not exist?” Christ’s death and Resurrection show us that evil did not have the first word, nor does it have the last. God made absolute good result from the worst evil. We believe that in the Last Judgment God will put an end to all injustice. In the life of the world to come, evil no longer has any place and suffering ends. 40, 286–287

YOUCAT paraphrases the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) no. 310: "But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection."

You criticize YOUCAT #51 for not mentioning original sin.  Of course that particular Q & A's purpose is not to discuss original sin, which is addressed elsewhere (##68-70).  But notice that neither does the explanation of CCC no. 310, on which #51 draws, refer to original sin.  Does that make the CCC "wacky" or doctrinally faulty?

c.  You go on at some length criticizing the idea that the world in general is getting closer to perfection, but since that is not what YOUCAT is addressing, I don't have anything to say in response to your comments, except to ask you to go back and re-read the Q & A.  I think you'll see it's talking about something else entirely from what you supposed.

d.  You write:

There is also a slam on people (they are "naive") who take the Bible at face value on the creation of the world taking six days even though the Pontifical Bible Commission has stated that the Church doesn't take a position on the literal or literary view of the creation story.

Here is what YOUCAT says (#42):

Can someone accept the theory of evolution and still believe in the Creator?

Yes. Although it is a different kind of knowledge, faith is open to the findings and hypotheses of the sciences. [282–289]

Theology has no scientific competence, and natural science has no theological competence. Natural science cannot dogmatically rule out the possibility that there are purposeful processes in creation; conversely, faith cannot define specifically how these processes take place in the course of nature’s development. A Christian can accept the theory of evolution as a helpful explanatory model, provided he does not fall into the heresy of evolutionism, which views man as the random product of biological processes. Evolution presupposes the existence of something that can develop. The theory says nothing about where this “something” came from. Furthermore, questions about the being, essence, dignity, mission, meaning, and wherefore of the world and man cannot be answered in biological terms. Just as “evolutionism” oversteps a boundary on the one side, so does creationism on the other. Creationists naively take biblical data literally (for example, to calculate the earth’s age, they cite the six days of work in Genesis 1).

I'm not sure it amounts to a "slam" of creationists to describe them as YOUCAT does. But in any case it's not a doctrinally faulty statement to assert that creationists "naively take the biblical data literally (for example, to calculate the earth's age, they cite the six days of work in Genesis 1)".  Although the CCC doesn't describe as "naive" those who hold literalist views of the six days of creation, it does characterize those days as symbolic: "God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity, and order.  Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine 'work', concluded by the 'rest' of the seventh day."  Clearly, this is how the CCC thinks the creation account of Gen 1 should be read.  Is that doctrinally faulty?

When in his general audience of Jan 29, 1986 Pope John Paul II said of the Genesis account of creation, "Taken as a whole, the image of the world is delineated by the pen of the inspired author with the characteristics of the cosmologies of the time", was the Pope doctrinally flawed?  The cosmologies of that time were creation myths.  That would seem even more provocative than describing the sis days of creation as "symbolic".  Nevertheless, I am glad to see that Aquinas and More carried God Father and Creator, the volume of John Paul II's audiences that contains the aforementioned talk.

When Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger preached the homilies that eventually became the book In the Beginning (an non-Ignatius Press book I am glad Aquinas and More sells), he presented the Gen 1 account of a six-day creation as symbolic. Was he doctrinally flawed for doing so?

In Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn's Chance or Purpose?, he distinguishes "creationism", which he associates with biblical fundamentalism, and the doctrine of creation.  Regarding the creationist idea of a young earth, he writes, "It is nonsense to maintain that the world is only six thousand years old" (p. 38) and he accuses of creationism of subjecting the Christian faith to mockery.  Is Cardinal Schoenborn on this matter doctrinally faulty? I am pleased to see that his book is sold by Aquinas and More.

The United States Catholic Catechismfor Adults states, "This debate [over evolution] is often fueled, on the one hand, by 'creationist' or fundamentalist biblical opinions that do not take into account the literary forms of the Bible and the primary theological purposes of its teaching, and on the other hand by the use of theories of evolution to support a materialist and anti-religious interpretation of the world and humanity" (p. 61).  That's similar to what YOUCAT says on the subject of creationism.  What's more, the same catechism describes the days of creation as symbolic and the sequence of creation in Gen 1 as "poetic and theological", "not literal or scientific" (p. 55). Aquinas and More also distributes this catechism.

Was Father Stanley Jaki doctrinally flawed when he wrote, "Biblical literalism taken for a source of scientific information is making the rounds even nowadays among creationists who would merit Huxley's description of biblioaters.  They merely bring discrdit to the Bible as they pile grist upon grist on the mills of latter-day Huxleys, such as Hoyle, Sagan, Gould, and others.  The fallacies of creationism go deeper than fallacious reasonings about scientific data. Where creationism is fundamentally at fault is its resting its case on a theological faultline: the biblicism constructed by the Reformers"?  Was Father Jaki doctrinally faulty when he went on to say, "Biblicalism almost succeeded in bringing irreparable discredit to the Counter-Reformers. This happened as they showed tio much readiness to meet Lutherans and Calvinists on their own chosen ground, that is, biblical literalism"? These quotes are taken from Jaki's Bible and Science, a book which also strongly criticizes a literalist interpretation of Gen 1's six days of creation and a book I am happy to see that Aquinas and More sells.

There are other works and authors I could quote, including others from Aquinas and More's inventory but you get the point. I don't think that these works and authors are doctrinally flawed because they reject the six-day view of creation or because they imply that those who hold such a view are, at best, incorrectly interpreting the Bible, if not making a mockery of biblical teaching.  Do you?  If so, why do you carry these books?

4. Discontinuation.  You write:

Because of these issues we are revoking our Good Faith seal from the Youcat and discontinuing it even though it has been our bestselling book this year. I am very concerned that thousands of these doctrinally faulty books are being given out to the youth at World Youth Day endorsed as the official catechism of the event by the Pope. I can only assume that his endorsement was given to the German edition and that he either took someone else's word on the soundness of the text or that the German text is actually sound.

You are, of course, free to carry or not carry YOUCAT.  However, I think you do YOUCAT and your readers a disservice if you characterize YOUCAT as doctrinally faulty.  It is not doctrinally faulty, whatever quibbles one might have about the phrasing of this or that answer.

With respect to the Holy Father, I won't claim he spent long hours pouring over every jot and tittle of YOUCAT.  However, I think it highly unlikely he simply took someone else's word regarding the book and proceeded to write the foreword to it, urging young people to read it.  What's more, do you really think that the German text significantly differs from the English text on the particular points at issue above?  Really?  That Ignatius Press simply mistranslated the text or maliciously set out to undercut an orthodox German original?

Ian, we at Ignatius Press very much appreciate Aquinas and More's apostolic work and your commitment to authentic Catholicism.  However, I have to say that in this case, I simply don't understand your reasoning or see validity to your arguments.  I hope you will reconsider the stance you have taken.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenni Helgoth August 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

This is not a careful catechism. I am not sure whether you carry it with a caveat or not carrry it at all. My other point is that most of the world (except the US and some other countries) view world youth day as a young adult event (not for teens). If this Catechism was published with that in mind, the audience to whom it is speaking to could be assumed to have more of an understanding than American teens. However, it still looks sloppy to me. You won’t loose my buisness whatever your decision. Thank you for checking your books.
God bless!

Reply

Terrye Newkirk August 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I didn’t vote in the poll because my objections to the diction and style are strong enough that I would not choose this catechism for teenagers. I believe it would be possible to present Catholic teaching for young people in a way that is both readable and doctrinally sound. Judging ONLY from these excerpts, YOUCAT fails on the first criterion and, while it may not be “doctrinally faulty,” as Mr. Brumley terms it, it is murky at best.

As for the imrimatur, neither the Holy Father nor the bishop of San Francisco has necessarily even READ the book; they took the opinion of someone on their staff. And the endorsement guarantees only that the work contains nothing contrary to Catholic doctrine–not that it presents it in comprehensive or even understandable way.

Still, I am not sure you should stop selling the book. You might include a statement that it should be studied with someone who can further explain and augment its contents. And perhaps Ignatius will consider a rewrite for future editions.

Reply

Tracy Hummel August 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I agree with Terrye. It may not be formally contrary to the Faith but it is, as she says above, “murky at best”, at least in some points. I’m sure TAN has a catechism for young adults. I would go with that.

Reply

Titus August 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Your poll leaves out an option: Ignatius Press answers your criticisms but you should not sell the book regardless. I think that’s the case. Mr. Brumley’s responses are quite cogent: many of your criticisms are somewhat inarticulate and overblown. The criticism of the creation section is particularly weak: a teleological understanding of creation would accept that since the end of creation was fulfillment of God’s vision of its complete goodness, it is appropriate to speak of creation reaching towards that goal. That does not make the statement one of dialectic materialism as you suggest.

At the same time, the book suffers severely from mealy-mouthed infantalism. Teenagers, the supposed audience for this work, desperately need to be told when a spade is a spade. Nobody else is going to come out and tell them “X is a mortal sin”; a book like this, however else it phrases the rest of its content, should say that much. “X is a mortal sin. Go to confession if you engage in this act. Do not receive Holy Communion until you have made a good confession.” But the statements in the work are not false, they are merely unclear. The book is unwise, but it is not heretical. I would not buy the book and I do not think it would be a good idea for others to do so. But I also do not believe that selling the book (or buying the book) would be sinful.

Reply

CDNowak August 12, 2011 at 11:44 pm

I agree with Titus on the missing option: “Ignatius Press answers your criticisms but you should not sell the book regardless.”

The fact that it is vague enough that it needs clarification makes it useless for its intended purpose: catechizing youth.

Reply

Doug McCauley August 14, 2011 at 8:30 am

“X is a mortal sin”? There are three conditions for a sin to be mortal, and one of those strengthens your position, and one weakens it. First, the person must know that the sin deals with grave matter, and this strengthens your point that youths should be told that X is grave matter. But secondly, the person must deliberately choose X in order for it to be a mortal sin. Your answer is a bit too free wheeling — for you to assert that X is a mortal sin is to say that you know in every instance that a person gave his deliberate consent to the act. You simply cannot know this. Addictions, which masturbation most certainly can be, diminishes a person’s capacity to act with regard to X action with freedom, and to deliberately assent to something is to do so with freedom. Does that mean that masturbation is no longer grave matter? No. Does that mean that youths (and everyone else) should know what the Church teaches to be grave matter? Absolutely. I suspect that you agree with my opinion that one should assume that if one has committed a grave sin, he is safest to assume it was a mortal sin. But we so often do not even know what it means to act freely, because we many of us have been unwittingly enslaved by our assent to what the world has proposed to us.

When a youth sees this passage with regard to masturbation, he can look for the facile answer, or he can seek for the fullness of the teaching and ask someone who knows, or cross reference the CCC: “masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” (CCC, 2352) If YOUCAT were going to say exactly what the CCC says, why would it be written in the first place? It seems to me that YOUCAT is attempting to provide a path to God for youths who wish to know the truth, while it exerts itself fully to not “break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick.” (Mat 12:20) We must ask ourselves what the intent of the Holy Father was, and why he so enthusiastically endorses this book. If Benedict “begs” someone to do something, given his holiness and erudition, doesn’t that give you pause for a moment to give YOUCAT the benefit of the doubt, and make you consider that though YOUCAT does not say everything it can on a given subject, perhaps it is pastorally and prudentially best to deliver some teachings to certain audiences in the way YOUCAT has? Consider how God has met us all, at each moment of our lives, where we were — ” But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. ” (Rom 5:8) For the youth who grows up in this culture, for anyone who turns on his television, purity and chastity are under unflagging assault. God has always guided me with a gentle hand from sin I have been embroiled in; perhaps this is the spirit with which YOUCAT is attempting to draw, without sacrificing anything doctrinally, youths into a deeper consideration of the Catholic faith.

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Titus August 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Mr. McCauley’s statements are of course entirely correct. I am less certain that they are relevant.

The fact that a person’s individual culpability may in a particular instance be diminished does not mean that it is impossible to say “X is a mortal sin.” This is the type of argument that relativists trot out when bishops try to condemn scandal: “You don’t know to what degree Mayor McScandalous is culpable for those acts.” Well, true. But the act in question is inherently grave, and its commission is presumptively a mortal sin. The burden is on the person committing the act, it seems, to demonstrate the existence of mitigating circumstances. I don’t intend to lump you into that same camp, but the argument simply does not seem very compelling in either context.

Furthermore, that’s an esoteric discussion: the point is that a simple catechism should provide clear information on what mortal sins are. Going through Catholic school, I was more or less taught that you had to kill someone or commit adultery to commit a mortal sin. A book like this should be clear about when a person needs to seek the assistance of the confessional and when he should refrain from approaching the Holy Eucharist. That’s simple. It’s not harsh, it’s the truth, which is by no means incompatible with God’s love.

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Doug McCauley August 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Again, Titus, a bit too free wheeling here. I stated that it is impossible to simply equate an act which concerns grave matter with mortal sin. That is absolutely true — if our final judgment of whether an act constitutes a mortal sin demands that we know the degree of knowledge and assent of the person committing the act, then how can we judge any act to be mortal without the aforementioned intimate knowledge? I consider it always relevant to show that a critical assertion one is making is mistaken. You then utilize an example, without argument, of a Mayor who is involved in scandalous acts. You give an an example of a very particular and very public act, to associate something in the mind of the reader in order to dispose him to your position, when no such parallel exists. The youth who struggles with masturbation creates nothing of the scandal that a so-called Catholic politician who openly flaunts Catholic teaching does. And even if a politician was struggling with masturbation, and even if the public were to somehow know about it, such a struggle would certainly not compel the Church to deny him the Eucharist. So your comment is not only irrelevant, as I am making no such argument as you propose, but it is also cheap.

As far as the burden being on the person committing the act, that is true. But the question that YOUCAT is obviously addressing, and deems necessary to treat in a manner appropriate to the youth, is how to deal with a youth who is in the habit. If it is true that the largest group to use internet porn is kids between the ages of 12 and 17, do you think they are even in a position to care about another prohibition laid upon them? The implied answer to this question by two men to whom I tend to give the benefit of the doubt, Benedict XVI and Cardinal Schonborn, is that these youths don’t need to be told that masturbation is wrong, even gravely so; they need to be introduced to something higher which gives them a reason to cease their actions.

Your final assertion that ‘a simple catechism should provide clear information on what mortal sins are’ is true. I think the direction YOUCAT has taken here is to define acts not in prohibitory language, but to direct youths toward the good. We act not primarily out of fear, but out of love. The coward does not primarily act out of fear of death, but love of a good, namely, life. So to speak of masturbation in terms of love is to speak to youths in terms of what they are forsaking by the act, and to do so in terms of something they desperately long for — love. Our final end of acts being love, the authors of YOUCAT have clearly decided it best to discuss masturbation in terms of it.

Carlo May 29, 2013 at 7:49 am

Actually culpability must be known in order to know if a sin is mortal or venial. We can say the matter ‘objectively grave’ but ‘mortal’ does imply that you are cut off from salvation (i.e. mortal as in spiritual death).

In terms of treatment we always err on the side of the most grave outcome, but its possible to commit any particular objectively grave offense and for the sin to be venial due to your state at that point in time.

Jennifer August 14, 2011 at 9:15 am

PRECISELY.

Will Ignatius provide personal YouCat tutors available 24/7 to provide the clear and focused explanation that this catechism doesn’t?

If you were born between the 60′s to 90′s, chances are you were the victim of catechetical malpractice yourself, and would be hard-pressed to interpret the serious nuances of the YouCat if this is your first experience with any catechism.

Clarity is charity is proper formation. I will have to stand before my Lord someday and answer for how I formed my children in the faith. Teens aren’t stupid, and I’m tired of catechetical materials that presumes they can’t handle the truth, or that they’ll abandon ship. They are starving to dig deep because no one else will. They can handle the big green book – just take it one bite at a time.

God bless! +

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Nestor Bacani August 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Unless it is there already, a statement in the Foreword to the effect that future revised editions are to be expected as a result of further reflections might help explain the doctrinal position better understood with openness as the book is refined.

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Terry Carroll August 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm

That Mr. Brumley needs to expend so much effort making points of doctrine clear confirms the original concerns, i.e., that the way Catholic teaching is presented in this catechism is too subject to misunderstanding and erroneous interpretation. A catechism should be both clear and dependable. It shouldn’t require footnotes and cross references to other sources to tie things together. That such important concerns need so much clarification, particularly in areas of great concern to youth (sexuality), should take this catechism off the “recommended” list.

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Lynea August 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Thank you, Aquinas and More, for pulling the book. You just earned yet another soon-to-be faithful customer.

If the whole point of a catechism is to explain the faith, why should it be so confusing? Should there be a catechism for the catechism? I think not. This is the method of the modernists, to sew confusion first by being so general on points and use language so to have double meanings in order to water down the truth until it loses it’s flavor, and people who drink it regularly soon forget what they are drinking. It’s what the very dear Alice Von Hildebrand would call, “the ‘miracle’ of turning wine into water.” Or perhaps, more precisely, this is not water, but poison.

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Kevin Phillips August 13, 2011 at 9:23 am

Regardless of the nonsense of which book store to go to or what books to purchase, if you have to question where to get a book from, you are wrong to begin with. Just like the media one observes. Which media source are they are to watch/listen to? I do not have time to waste on this. I know what I know because of the information I have. I’m not saying…I’m just saying.

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William August 14, 2011 at 4:49 am

I would highly recommend the web site:

http://www.youcatrecall.com/

It offers a gravely concerning critique which was confirmed to have been authored by multiple faithful Latin Rite and Eastern Church clergy and knowledgeable laity, and additionally, a very worthy petition for the recall, correction or replacement of YouCat. Such an extremely sad development this is. The last thing our beloved youth needed was more error and confusion in their lives. Oremus!

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Nicole September 24, 2011 at 11:02 am

Thank you for posting this link!

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Nancy D. August 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm

It is important to note the quote in the margin of page 224 which states: “The sins of the flesh are bad but they are the least bad of all sins…” which could only serve to cause confusion by dismissing and thus distorting the truth in regards to the grave nature of the sin against Chastity.

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Titus August 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Holy statements out of context, Batman! That’s not exactly an accurate statement of that sentiment when phrased that way.

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Colleen Hammond August 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Kudos for wanting to pull the book! Here’s a thought: remember Arianism? It boiled down to one iota: Homoiousia or Homoousia. Arius taught that Jesus’ divinity was SIMILAR to God. The Catholic Faith teaches us that Jesus’ divinity is the SAME as God’s. If an entire heresy sprouted from one letter (the iota), why would Catholics stand for having a Catechism in print that is murky, ambiguous, and contains doctrinal error? “As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.” Galatians 1:9

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mkwd August 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I am very disappointed in Brumley’s response.

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Teresa August 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I agree with Titus. The lack of clarity, explicitly saying that something is or is not a sin, mortal or venial, leaves too much wiggle room for a person to convince themselves that they are right with God.

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Dorian Speed August 17, 2011 at 12:51 am

While I have reservations about the YOUCAT, they’re more of an “I wish this had been better” than “this is so serious that I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone” nature. My personal feeling is that Mark Brumley has adequately responded to your concerns.

Based on my experience teaching at a Catholic high school, I can attest that any text could require clarification – either, in this case, if the catechist feels like the explanation isn’t clear enough, or because the audience doesn’t even know what “grave matter” or “mortal sin” means. I used the Midwest Theological Forum textbooks, which are incredibly faithful to the Catechism, and found that many of my students (particularly those who were not Catholic or whose families didn’t actively practice their faith) couldn’t make heads or tails of some of the terminology in the text. And I’ve also seen catechists in other situations use a similarly orthodox, very specific text and couch it in terms of “okay, so the Church says whatever, but how realistic is that?” Or paraphrase the text incorrectly when students said “what on earth is this saying?” I think it’s unrealistic to expect that any text is going to be properly understood by all of its readers, and it seems to me that the YOUCAT errs on the side of putting things into plain English.

My personal feeling is that I myself would rather put the YOUCAT in the hands of a not-super-educated reader than, say, the Catechism – because it’s designed to boil the Catechism down to simple language. And the fact that it integrates citations from the Catechism means that it leads the reader to find more information.

I also think we should accept on face value that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI means what he says in the foreword. In fact, the dangers of pornography are mentioned right there, quite specifically, in his foreword!

“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 he specifically exhorts young people to study the book. He tells them it wasn’t written to please them or to make life easy. 700,000 copies of this book are being distributed at World Youth Day. I hardly think this foreword was dashed off based on the recommendation of a staffer.

I appreciate your thorough examination of the text and consideration of this issue, and I do hope that future revisions will address the stylistic issues, etc. I’m just not ready to write off this text as theologically unsound. I just keep coming back to the fact that you’ll never be able to write a text that “heretic-proofs” catechesis, because the text is unlikely to be read in a vacuum – clarifications are going to be made in some situations based on the background the reader brings to the text.

(Perhaps I’m just cynical based on extensive experience of being around crummy catechesis despite the use of super-amazingly wonderful catechetical materials.)

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Ian August 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

The problem with the terminology of the Youcat is precisely that it doesn’t boil things down to basics. If a catechism uses terms like “mortal sin”, “venial sin”, “concupiscence”, “original sin”, etc. you can at least go look up a definition for these terms.

Instead, the Youcat uses terms like “offense against love”, “serious offense against charity”, “contrary to the order of creation”. Also, the section on theft calls it “unlawful” but doesn’t call it a sin. The first three phrases beg the question “Yes, but is it a sin?” The second gets into the not all laws are good and laws and following some laws can actually be sinful. I doubt that most teens will split that hair and come down on the side of “unlawful but not sinful” but why not just call it a sin?

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Dorian Speed August 17, 2011 at 11:30 am

I see what you are saying.

Fundamentally, I feel like the YOUCAT is better designed for a “hostile audience” than the other options out there. Does that mean it’s the best tool for homeschool catechesis? Probably not. I use the Baltimore Catechism now with my young children and will most likely use the USCCB Catechism for Adults with them when they’re older.

But for the young adult who hasn’t been to church except for the occasional Christmas or Easter with Grandma, or who isn’t Catholic but wonders what on earth we’re talking about – I think the YOUCAT reaches out to those readers and engages them. So many young adults show up at religious ed. (or enter into religious discussions) with their hands over their ears, “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” and perceive the Church as existing just to spoil people’s fun. When the highest-profile media exposure for the Church lies in “transgressive” Lady Gaga videos and updates about the abuse scandal, we are really in an uphill battle to even get these young people to give us the time of day.

That’s what I see as the purpose of the YOUCAT. Not to replace textbooks and kick the Baltimore Catechism to the curb, but to be distributed at World Youth Day and shared by those fired-up young adults with their less-enthusiastic friends. I think this is at the root of the stylistic choices that the authors have made. As I understand it, there will be an online component that will expand upon what’s in the book itself, and it’s a coordinated effort to reach out to young people. I’ll be interested to see what comes of this. I remain cautiously optimistic.

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Michael Incata August 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I don’t get it. First the CCC was “too difficult”. “Hey! Let’s have a Catechism in Question and Answer format!” Wow! What a brilliant idea! Too bad it’s never been done before. WAIT! Yes it has, several times in a city called Baltimore. Also, Pope SAINT Pius X. Remember him? He had a Catechism. So, apparently our “youth” are too hardened for Baltimore Catechism #2 and too stupid for #3. We need an updated Q&A Catechism or at least a “Compendium”. So, then the Compendium comes out. Now, that’s apparently not good enough for our “youth”. They need vibrant art and cartoons. Ok, so fine to all that. The Compendium was as the key to the door of Catholic Educational Renewal. Now this YOUCAT (The Life Teen of Catechisms) is being presented as such. So, this took 3 years? In 3 years they couldn’t find a better quote than “The Church does not demonize masturbation, but she warns against trivializing it.”
Isn’t calling something a MORTAL SIN demonizing it? What is it then? Doesn’t this sentence trivialize it? If more souls “go to hell for sins against the 6th and 9th Commandments” isn’t this an important issue to get right the first time? I won’t even mention the topics of how Homosexuality and Creation are covered.

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Arty August 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm

This didn’t appear in your review: The Lord’s Prayer on p.280 includes the Protestant ending “For thine is the kingdom and power and glory forever.” It is presented as part and parcel of the prayer.

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Rebecca August 31, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Arty,

If you read on it states, “The conclusion, “For Thine is the kingdom…” is mentioned as early as the “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” (Didache, ca. A.D. 150) and so it can be added to the Our father.

General comment on this whole issue: Come on Guys…..you’re making criticisms based on bits and pieces of the content……..and taking them out of context….sound familiar?? Taken as a whole, including the references to the CCC, quotes by the saints and others, and that this has been created for the youth of this day and age………….I think you’re making much ado about nothing.

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Michael Incata September 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm

But, Rebecca, that’s a lie, just like the mis-statements about the origins of Eucharistic Prayer II. That Protestant Embellishment came from a transcriber who must have written it into the margin of the scriptures and another Protestant transcriber thought it belonged in the Bible and added it.

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Carlo May 29, 2013 at 7:45 am

Michael,

Actually what Rebecca wrote isn’t a lie. It was not an invention of a transcriber which protestants mistook (though there might be some level of truth to the second half). I have read Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church and am familiar with this argumentation.

That said, this doxology is very common in the east and it is common because indeed it comes from the didache and almost certainly from the Apostles. No, it’s not part and parcel to the prayer as some believe, but doxology’s never are that’s sort of the point.

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Arty December 30, 2011 at 7:15 am

Rebecca,

I’ve read the whole Youcat. I’m now bothered by not just the Lord’s Prayer issue, but also many of the others that you consider nitpicking. Taken as a whole, this book is not the kind of educational material I would hand kids for them to peruse on their own. Unfortunately, much educated intervention is needed to put things back into context.

The addition, for example, of the modified Lord’s Prayer is out of context in the Youcat. They should have printed it the traditional way – conforming to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, religious education materials, prayer cards, etc. – then made a comment or side-note about the Didache and “For thine is the kingdom…”

Also, for what it’s worth, if nits (which are Lice eggs) are not picked from a scalp, then a very bad situation (to put it mildly) will result. And, if left untreated, will spread and infect others, cause problems at large, etc… In other words, better to pick the nits out of Youcat now than allow them to infest our youth in the future.

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GADEL August 20, 2011 at 5:59 am

YouCat has being a GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT for me as both a youth and a convert. This youth Catechism needs to be halted and re-written or it may spark BIG ISSUES. God bless His Catholic Church. Amen.

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Dietrich Smith August 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm

The issue about the “creation issue” where Fr. Stanley Jaki is quoted much seems to be a bit odd unless Fr. Jaki was the primary writer for this work.

The book by Blessed Pope John Paul II on Genesis I understood it was written as if he is a theologian, not as a Pope in his “infallible” teaching position.

The way this Ignatius response seems to be “defending” an established work NOT demonstrating concern over pastoral issues. If there was NOT a major glitch with the Italian Catechism You Cat I would not be as concerned too. Italian is a common enough language not to have something screw up (especially since it is so CLOSE to the Vatican.).

I will say that if there is a discussion on the issue of Creation then let us remember Humani Generis where Pius XII wrote in paragraph 36 where BOTH opinions of evolution of man need to be explored. That point is brought out in Homiletics and Pastoral Review written by a writer Peter Wilders in October 1997. That is a publication of Ignatius Press.

For further discussion I would point people to http://www.ideacenter.org/resources/links.php
(links the whole spectrum creation to evolution)
http://www.talkorigins.org/
Alternative location for discussions

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R. A. Edwards August 25, 2011 at 7:51 pm

If YOUCAT is faulty, you are just as guilty. Your “questionnaire” seems to have omitted that your criticisms are wrong. Theology must be presented pastorally, in which you all seem to be deficient. Theology can utilize catechisms, but it CANNOT be the sole teaching aid. If topics have been written by great theologians in voluminous amounts on a subject, how do you suppose a “question and answer” catechism can cover the scope of a topic. Finally, believe it or not, theological language changes WHEN the need exists. And theological language in SOME instances is just that- language. Original Sin has been termed by theologians as Original Wondedness, Original Christlessness, etc. I really believe that until you have qualified people to judge theology and not language YOU personally feel comfortable with, you really should not make theological arguments. This is America, and I care not if you sell or ban the book. It is your reasoning that is inept. Please do not assume the role of a theologian. We have enough qualified people who can fulfill this role. Thank you.

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Ian August 25, 2011 at 11:05 pm

We didn’t “ban” the book. We just chose not to sell it because some of its explanations are deficient. We aren’t the only ones who have come to this conclusion. The problem is not that a QA can’t cover the breadth of a topic but that the answers to some questions can be easily misconstrued because the answers are so poorly written.

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Charlie September 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I believe that Mr. Rumley did quite a satisfactory job in his response, though he did not fully address your critique that the belief in the perfection of the world is “un-Catholic” and a “Jehovah’s Witness belief.” I am not sure whether or not Jehovah Witnesses profess that or not, but either way would not preclude such a belief from being Catholic as well. In fact, such a belief is firmly entrenched in Catholic Tradition. Irenaeus, a church father, was particularly explicit that man is working his way towards perfection. He goes back to Jewish tradition, in which God is revealed as acting and perfecting this world, and how man is perfected in Jesus Christ. We are now sanctified and perfected through His life and grace. With the Incarnation we are already sanctified, but not yet fully sanctified. Augustine, in the City of God, articulates a complimentary position when says we are a pilgrim Church walking towards Heaven. While he distinguishes the Pilgrim Church and Heavenly Church, we do have the goal of perfection through sanctification. I think the YouCat does a very good job of theologically articulating this more complex process to an teenage appropriate teaching: “God created the world to be good, but it is not yet complete. In violent upheavals and painful processes it is being shaped and moved towards its final perfection.” This choice of words of upheavals and painful processes are references to scriptures too, in which the world is in birthing pains: (Mt 24:4-8; 1 Thes 5:2-3). This is not a matter of “evolving” towards perfection (a term which the YouCat does not use), but of completion, a process of deification, a participation in Christ’s divinity. By dismissing this notion, you are in fact dismissing this process of deification, which has shaped the orthodoxy of our Catholic Tradition and our creeds.

In addition, God so loved the world to save it, and he left us the gift of the Holy Spirit to be with us as we work in the world. There is not empirical proofs that the world becoming more holy, we only have faith in that; and even Jesus said the world is going to undergo “birthing pains” beforehand. So be very careful in your comments: “It is quite probable that when the world ends we will be so far from perfect that the world won’t even be recognizable as God’s creation.” Such a statement is awfully close to despair in the power of God’s providence and a sin against the Holy Spirit. So I do not find the YouCat theologically flawed in its approach to Creation, rather I find your critique theologically unsound, and approaching hopelessness.

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Ian September 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Belief that we are individually working towards our own perfection and belief that somehow the world itself was not created perfect but is somehow becoming perfect are two entirely different things. The first is Catholic. The second is not. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that at the end of the world this world will become our Heaven. Just pick up Watchtower or Awake magazine. Many of them have articles on the topic.

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Charlie September 6, 2011 at 10:16 am

Catholics believe that the world was created perfect, but fell. God then promises to restore creation, through his Covenants with the Patriarchs of the Torah, then through the prophets, finally culminating in Christ. Christ did not just come to restore man but he restored Man who is the culmination of creation. When Man fell, Creation fell. When Man is restored, Creation is also restored. This is practiced in the Liturgy every Sunday, when we celebrate the Lord’s Day, which is not Sabbath but the 8th day or the first day of the New Creation. Every Sunday at Mass we worship, anticipating and living out our hope in the New Creation. So it may be a Jehovah’s witness belief, but it is also is part of our Catholic Tradition that we live out every week through participating in the Lord’s Day.

Again we are at once already in the Lord’s Day and the New Creation, yet not fully. It is true that we will never fully reach the New Creation in this life, but we are working towards it. This is why the Church speaks out in moral teaching with our Catholic Social Tradition; our lives matter and shape the world. We have hope that we will become cooperators in restoring the New Creation. We have faith that the Holy Spirit will be with us as we do the Lord’s work. We are a community of believers transforming the world, not individuals; this is the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. So while you are correct in saying we are each working towards our own perfection, we are not isolated from one another. In fact we are our brother’s keeper too, and are responsible for our neighbor. Just look to the witness that the early church gave in Acts 2:42-47. We cannot confuse God’s kingdom on in heaven with the Church on Earth, but that does not mean we are not working to perfect the earth till Christ comes again. Reflect on the Our Father: “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” We as Catholics hope in heaven, and work to establish it God’s kingdom on earth. Though we are also asking for God’s help in this matter, that is why we pray asking for his intercession.
So please reflect on our Catholic Tradition, and you can see that we do believe that God is moving Creation towards final perfection.

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Mary Couldron October 19, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Please disregard previous message as I have changed my mind and feel that this rendition is to confusing. Your descision was sound not to sell it.

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Jenny Pfang November 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm

My son was sent two copies of the English version of the catechism from the World Youth Day which I had previously been warned about by my daughter as quoting heretics alongside saints. I was shocked when I looked at it. Surely it is sacriligeous to have quotes from Martin Luther (cause of Reformation), Peter Sellers (4 times ‘married’ British comedy actor and Frère Roger (founder of Taize and according to internet sources frequent recipient of Holy Communion at Catholic Masses although Protestant) alongside Doctors and Saints of the Church?? I wonder what Saint Augustine would have thought of intercommunion?? I think the doctrinal ambiguities are not going to help young people understand their faith. It is somewhat worrying that the Pope and Bishops have given this their approval although they are meant to be our shepherds in the Faith. Well done for your stance.

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Gallagher November 10, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I liked the YOUCAT in general. I like the Q & A format. However, I do agree that the answers given, particularly in the paragraphs you cited, are not a CLEAR Catholic Theological explanation. It seems to me that the attempt to appeal to American youth has resulted in a politically correct (PC) version of a catechism.
That being said, I think with a little more work, speaking with youth and questioning their understanding of stated doctrines, may aid in
Ignatius Press in determining if the message is clearly stated. Thus allowing correction where necessary.

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Therese December 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I appreciate Aquinas and More’s decision NOT to sell the Y-cat. Thank you.

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Maria March 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I would like to ask: how old are those who are commenting? The reason I ask this, is because I work with youth and young adults, I’ve recently been to World Youth Day and have received and have been studying the YouCat with the young people in our parish.

Sometimes, as adults, we feel all these teens or young adults need is the Church says this is wrong and this is right…but reality is they need more than that. They need the explanation of the “why?” Many resources out there that bash the Church are responding to why…take for example the internet “sensation” “Why I love Jesus, but hate religion.” I feel the Youcat’s purpose is that, to explain the why. It’s second purpose is to study it, to help these young people hear from an adult or young adult leading them by saying, “Yes, this is wrong…because….”

I do feel the Youcat should have some kind of rating system for things it considers sins and their level so that the young person reading it can have a compass as a guide.

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Melissa November 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm

The testtube baby thought… Babies shouldn’t be born in test tubes. This is why: The one-flesh union (man and woman’s body becoming one in the sexual act) involves the love of man and woman and no other person involved in between them. It should be a trinity. And without the flesh, it doesn’t follow God’s plan. We would be leaving out the 100% giving of fleshy self part— which is also a wedding vow consummated in the flesh…The Word was made Flesh..wedding words are made….FLESH in the sexual loving union..The catechism is scratching the surface on these deep theological topics. Our church certainly recognizes homosexuality as a complicated subject when you start involving the “why” part of humans being that way. The direction of this theology is to help us recognize the love Jesus has even for people with same-sex attraction whether it’s innate or because of trauma or other complicated reasons. The point is to obey God no matter what the attraction. What can we do for him, give up for him? For men, Sodomy is always the sin, not the attraction. But even heterosexual beings have to obey God in how we treat our spouses even in marriage. We are not supposed to use and lust after each other. And single people are called to abstain from sex as well outside of marriage. We all have to say “no” to things, but remember there is a “yes” on the other side of every no. All of the 10 commandments are negative, telling us what NOT to do. The “yes” is what we need to ponder. The thing that really helps understand all of this is the Theology of the Body teachings of JP2. A lot is understood in those studies. It really helps understand the meaning of our bodies and how we really don’t value it as much as we should. This is a great starting place—-http://www.theologyofthebody.net

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Matt Simmons December 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

I am a missionary on a college campus and have read most of the YOUCAT. It doesn’t answer all the questions as I necessarily would, but I do not think it’s bad. This catechism is a new approach to teaching youth through the lens of the new evangelization. The new evangelization is all about how do you evangelize a society that is “post christian”, people who have already evolved past christianity, its old hat to them. Well, one of the ways you do that is to change your approach. Most of the complaints that people have had is that it doesn’t use traditional approaches to explaining the faith. This is it’s genius though. Most young people today do not have an understanding of sin that generations past have had because we no longer live in a society that is primarily christian, run by christian values. If we still did the old approach of convicting people of sin and then telling them the truth would still work, but it doesn’t. In our culture sin is so normalized and has been turned into your natural identity that if you try the approach of talking about how sinful someone is living you will be written off as bigoted, evil, unloving, uncaring, and just flat out a bad person. You can’t just tell people they are wrong and then tell them what’s right like you could in decades past. Where the YOUCAT shines is that it doesn’t do that. It turns catechesis on its head. It leaves out the old methods and ushers in new methods. It bypasses the initial conviction of sin and just presents the truths of the faith in a way that is palpable to young people. This approach lays out the truths in the most positive way allowing young people to be drawn in. If you tell them they are evil or what they are doing is evil too early, you will lose them. It is truly effective with young people to present the truths of the faith in the way the YOUCAT does whether we like it or not. It is however only a beginning, they must eventually learn all sides of the faith to be a well rounded catholic. I personally recommend my disciples who are trying to evangelize read the YOUCAT to be able to more effectively present the faith to their peers.

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Peter Mueller February 7, 2013 at 9:35 am

I read through the article and the comments, and I think it’s worth keeping the Youcat. I’m all for having rigorous catechisms that spell things out, and that’s what we have the CCC for. If you homeschool and/or your kids have been really well-formed in the Faith, skip the Youcat. Unfortunately, most youth are not in that situation, and Youcat is for them; it’s meant to be a gateway catechism, bringing the average youth in to where they can actually digest something as dry and monolithic as the CCC.

I work with Catholic teens for Confirmation and Youth Ministry. I agree with people who say that the youth are thirsting for the truth, and that they can handle it. But the problem is not just that they don’t know the Faith, it’s that they DO know something: secular culture. It’s hardwired in them, it’s their lens for viewing the world, which is why if we throw the Baltimore Catechism at them, it doesn’t stick. Who do I trust, the world I and all my friends live in and accept, or an archaic list of rules?

The strength of Youcat is that it specifically presents the Faith vis a vis the secular culture, helping the youth to see how eternally relevant it is. Then, once that foot is in the door, they’re open to a more rigorous challenge. An example: get an average group of teens together, tell them homosexual acts are sinful, and the secular filter that’s hardwired in them says: “homophobia! discrimination!” and they lock up. Present it, as the Youcat does, in the broader context of love and offenses against love, and they’re more open to the truth that homosexual acts are sinful.

Bottom line, the Youcat is a useful tool for engaging kids who don’t value or care about the Faith; once they’re engaged, then graduate to something more substantial.

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Carlo May 29, 2013 at 7:18 am

I read this due to much talk about heresy in the youcat. Having read through this, at least given the materials selected I don’t know that I find out and out heresy, as the Italian version did by improperly rendering “May a Christian married couple regulate the number of children they have?” as “May a Christian couple resort to contraceptive methods?”. Rather, what I see here are differences of opinion on style and where emphasis should be placed. I will continue looking into the matter (as I am considering getting my daughters youcats) but so far, I have not had a major problem with this publication.

If anyone can point to a clear heresy, I would be all ears.

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