A Compendium That Touches Everyday Life
"Not Mere Theoretical Knowledge,
Rather It Is Meant 'for Action'"
DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania, SEPT. 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text
of an address given by Cardinal Renato Martino during a presentation of
the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. He gave the
address July 15.
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The Church's Mission for an Integral Humanism in Solidarity
By Cardinal Renato Martino
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
The Compendium of the Church's Social Doctrine, written by the
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at behest of Pope John Paul
II, was presented to the press on 25 October 2004. This document --
long-awaited, since its publication was initially foreseen for shortly
after the Jubilee Year, and the result of a long process of work,
because of the complex problems involved in its conceptual precision
and in drawing up its material content -- has been welcomed with great
On the basis of the very process that generated it, however, this is a
document destined to sow its seeds very extensively, to fertilize the
soil of the building of society over long periods of time, to motivate
and guide the presence of Catholics in history, and not merely in some
extemporaneous manner. The destiny of the Compendium will be measured
by the conviction with which it is received and by the use that is made
of it for the relaunching of general pastoral activity in society and,
above all, in bringing about a reflective, aware, coherent and
community presence of lay Catholics involved in society and in
politics. If today we witness a warm reception given to the Compendium,
it is tomorrow that will determine whether the spirit and purpose that
guided its birth have been respected.
Structure and Purpose of the
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church offers a complete
summary of the fundamental framework of the doctrinal corpus of
Catholic social teaching. Faithful to the authoritative recommendation
made by the Holy Father John Paul II in No. 54 of the postsynodal
apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in America," the document presents "in
a complete and systematic manner, even if by means of an overview, the
Church's social teaching, which is the fruit of careful magisterial
reflection and an _expression of the Church's constant commitment in
fidelity to the grace of salvation wrought in Christ and in loving
concern for humanity's destiny" (Compendium, 8).
The Compendium has a simple and straightforward structure. After an
Introduction, there follow three parts: the first, composed of four
chapters, deals with the fundamental presuppositions of social doctrine
-- God's plan of love for humanity and for society, the Church's
mission and the nature of social doctrine, the human person and human
rights, the principles and values of social doctrine; the second part,
composed of seven chapters, deals with the contents and classical
themes of social doctrine -- the family, human work, economic life, the
political community, the international community, the environment and
peace; the third part, which is quite brief, being composed of one sole
chapter, contains a series of indications for the use of social
doctrine in the pastoral praxis of the Church and in the life of
Christians, above all the lay faithful. The Conclusion, entitled "For a
Civilization of Love," is an _expression of the underlying purpose of
the entire document.
The Compendium has a specific purpose and is characterized by certain
objectives that are well spelled out in the Introduction. In fact, the
document "is presented as an instrument for the moral and pastoral
discernment of the complex events that mark our time; as a guide to
inspire, at the individual and community levels, attitudes and choices
that will permit all people to look to the future with greater trust
and hope; as an aid for the faithful concerning the Church's teaching
in the area of social morality."
It is moreover an instrument put together for the precise purpose of
promoting "new strategies suited to the demands of our time and in
keeping with human needs and resources. But above all there can arise
the motivation to rediscover the vocation proper to the different
charisms within the Church that are destined to the evangelization of
the social order, because 'all the members of the Church are sharers in
this secular dimension'" (Compendium, 10).
A fact that we do well to emphasize, because it is found in various
parts of the document, is the following: The text is presented as an
instrument for fostering ecumenical and interreligious dialogue on the
part of Catholics with all who sincerely seek the good of mankind. In
fact, the statement is made in No. 12 that the document "is proposed
also to the brethren of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to
the followers of other religions, as well as to all people of good will
who are committed to serving the common good."
Social doctrine, indeed, is intended for a universal audience, in
addition to those to whom it is primarily and specifically addressed,
the sons and daughters of the Church. The light of the Gospel, which
social doctrine brings to shine on society, illuminates every person:
Every conscience and every intellect is able to grasp the human depths
of meaning and values expressed in this doctrine, as well as the
outpouring of humanity and humanization contained in its norms for
Obviously, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church concerns
Catholics first of all, for "the first recipient of the Church's social
doctrine is the Church community in its entire membership, because
everyone has social responsibilities that must be fulfilled and in the
tasks of evangelization, that is to say, of teaching, catechesis and
formation that the Church's social doctrine inspires, it is addressed
to every Christian, each according to the competence, charisms, office
and mission of proclamation that is proper to each one" (Compendium,
Social doctrine also implies responsibility regarding the construction,
organization and functioning of society: political, economic and
administrative duties, that is to say, duties of a secular nature, that
belong to the lay faithful in a particular way because of the secular
nature of their state of life and because of the secular character of
their vocation. By means of this responsibility, the laity put social
doctrine into practice and fulfill the Church's secular mission.
The Compendium and the
The Compendium places the Church's social doctrine at the heart of the
Church's mission. It shows, above all in Chapter Two, the
ecclesiological aspect of this social doctrine, that is, how this
doctrine is intimately connected with the mission of the Church, with
evangelization and the proclamation of Christian salvation in temporal
realities. In fact, among the instruments of the Church's particular
mission of service to the world, which consists in being a sign of the
unity of all the human race and a sacrament of salvation, there is
found also her social doctrine.
The Christian mysteries of the Resurrection and the Incarnation of the
Word attest that the message of salvation, reaching its climax at
Easter, concerns all people and every dimension of what is human, since
Christ's redemptive work, "while essentially concerned with the
salvation of mankind, includes also the renewal of the whole temporal
The Church, existing in the world and for the world, although not of
the world, cannot neglect her proper mission of instilling within the
world a Christian spirit: The Church "has an authentic secular
dimension, inherent to her inner nature and mission, which is deeply
rooted in the mystery of the Word Incarnate." When the Church becomes
involved in human promotion, when she proclaims the rules of a new
coexistence in peace and justice, when she works, together with all
people of good will, for establishing relations and institutions that
are more human, it is then that the Church "teaches the way which man
must follow in this world in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Her
teaching therefore extends to the whole moral order, and notably to the
justice which must regulate human relations. This is part of the
preaching of the Gospel."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that when the Church
"fulfills her mission of proclaiming the Gospel, she bears witness to
man, in the name of Christ, to his dignity and his vocation to the
communion of persons. She teaches him the demands of justice and peace
in conformity with divine wisdom." It is good to emphasize the words
"proclaiming the Gospel" and "mission" in this passage, as they
indicate the life and action of the Church, her very purpose according
to the will of her Founder. This means when she puts forth her social
doctrine the Church is doing nothing other than fulfilling her
innermost mission: "to teach and to spread her social doctrine pertains
to the Church's evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the
It has thus been possible to understand the Church's social doctrine in
the context of the mystery of creation, of the redemption of Christ and
of the salvation -- which is integral in character -- that he brings:
"Jesus came to bring integral salvation, one which embraces the whole
person and all mankind, and opens up the wondrous prospect of divine
filiation." It has been possible to place it better within the relation
that exists between evangelization and human promotion, which are
intimately connected but must not be confused: "Between evangelization
and human advancement -- development and liberation -- there are ...
profound links." It has been possible to consider it as closely
connected to the entire Christian life insofar as it is itself "an
integral part of the Christian conception of life," according to the
memorable _expression found in "Mater et Magister."
The fact that the Compendium places social doctrine within the mission
proper to the Church prompts us on the one hand not to consider it as
something added or peripheral to the Christian life and, on the other
hand, helps us to understand it as belonging to a community subject. In
fact, the only subject properly suited to the nature of social doctrine
is the entire ecclesial community.
The Compendium, in No. 79, states: "Social doctrine belongs to the
Church because the Church is the subject that formulates it,
disseminates it and teaches it. It is not a prerogative of a certain
component of the ecclesial body but of the entire community: it is the
_expression of the way that the Church understands society and of her
position regarding social structures and changes. The whole of the
Church community -- priests, religious and laity -- participates in the
formulation of this social doctrine, each according to the different
tasks, charisms and ministries found within her."
The Church is one body with many members who, "though many, are one
body" (1 Corinthians 12:12). The action of the Church is likewise one,
it is the action of a sole subject, but it is carried out according to
a variety of gifts through which the whole richness of the entire body
passes. "The entire Christian community" is called to an adequate
discernment aimed at "scrutinizing the 'signs of the times' and
interpreting reality in the light of the Gospel message," but "each
individual person" is also called to this same task. "Everyone for
their part" and "each individual person": service to the world, so that
it may know the ways of the Lord, is brought about through the specific
-- and at the same time all-encompassing -- commitment of every
component of the ecclesial community. In this perspective, I wish to
offer a reflection concerning the contribution of these different
Bishops and the Compendium
The Compendium is put into the hands of bishops. The conciliar decree
"Christus Dominus," in paragraph 12, offers some points of interest
regarding the bishop's function, precisely as teacher of the faith, in
formulating, teaching and applying the Church's social doctrine. An
integral part of this function of teaching, the decree states, is
showing that "earthly goods and human institutions according to the
plan of God the Creator are also disposed for man's salvation and
therefore can contribute much to the building up of the body of Christ"
The bishop is also called to "teach, according to the doctrine of the
Church, the great value of these things: the human person with his
freedom and bodily life, the family and its unity and stability, the
procreation and education of children, civil society with its laws and
professions, labor and leisure, the arts and technical inventions,
poverty and affluence" (ibid.). Finally, he also has the duty of
setting forth "the ways by which are to be answered the most serious
questions concerning the ownership, increase, and just distribution of
material goods, peace and war, and brotherly relations among all
This intimate relation between social doctrine and the bishop as
teacher of the faith ultimately arises from the indissoluble bond
existing between social doctrine and evangelization, a bond spoken of
many times in the Compendium. The bishop is the pre-eminent teacher of
the faith in a particular community that has the specific task of
discerning historical events in the light of social doctrine. It is the
task of the particular Christian community -- as stated in the famous
fourth paragraph of "Octogesima Adveniens" -- "to analyze with
objectivity the situation," "to shed on it the light of the Gospel's
unalterable words" and "to discern the options and commitments which
are called for." This is a task that belongs to the community and is to
be undertaken "with the help of the Holy Spirit, in communion with the
Bishops who hold responsibility and in dialogue with other Christian
brethren and all people of good will" (ibid.) so that the proclamation
of the social Gospel may be incarnated in the minds and hearts of
concrete men and women who share the same concerns and the same hopes.
The bishop, as the first servant of his community, will find in the
Compendium the help needed for fulfilling this duty of discernment. The
Compendium will be a kind of reference point for working out the
Church's social doctrine in his diocese, taking into account the papal
social magisterium as well as Scripture and Tradition, and keeping
careful watch also over how this doctrine is taught and embodied. The
Compendium will help the bishop, insofar as he is responsible for
spreading social doctrine in his diocese, constantly to remind all
ecclesial subjects of their social responsibility. Nor will the bishop
consider the application of this same social doctrine in his diocese as
foreign to his office of teacher of the faith. Of course, putting its
principles into concrete action in situations of politics, the economy
and work will belong to other subjects, and in a particular way to
Christian associations of the laity and to individual laymen and women.
Nonetheless, the bishop is called to maintain an important role of
overseeing this application so as to reawaken, even in a prophetic
manner, consciences which have fallen asleep, to condemn distortions
and errors in its application, to indicate -- without getting involved
in empirical questions -- basic criteria and dynamic guidelines for
resolving the human and social problems that call into play the word
and actions of believers.
Priests and the Compendium
The Compendium is put into the hands of priests. The priest, "by virtue
of the consecration which he receives in the Sacrament of Orders, is
sent forth by the Father through the mediatorship of Jesus Christ, to
whom he is configured in a special way as Head and Shepherd of his
people, in order to live and work by the power of the Holy Spirit in
service of the Church and for the salvation of the world." Priestly
service to the world takes place according to the specific character
proper to the priest. He is a missionary, but not independently of his
liturgical service, of his making Christ present in his preaching and
in his very life, of his being a shepherd to his flock, of his value as
an instrument of dialogue among Christians and between Christians and
all men and women.
The priest serves the Church's social doctrine not when he becomes
involved directly in social or economic activities, but by preaching
the social Gospel from the altar, by proclaiming in his preaching the
freedom of Christ and condemning the denial of human rights and the
disregard for the dignity of the person, by showing the uncontainable
force of the love and justice that issue forth from the Word, teaching
the social value of the Christian faith, by promoting a catechesis --
especially among young people and adults -- that draws its inspiration
also from social doctrine, by prompting the Christian community and the
laity, both as individuals and in associations, to open their minds and
hearts to the human needs found in their own territory as well as to
the needs of the larger world community.
Moreover, to the priest belongs the mission of promoting the "different
roles, charisms and ministries present within the ecclesial community,"
in relation also to the assimilation and proclamation of the Church's
social doctrine. He has the first responsibility, within his community,
of fostering and strengthening the awareness that all subjects of the
community must have concerning their role in the evangelization of
society: parents and families, the laity, the world of school and
education, associations, movements, and so on.
Consecrated Life and the
The Compendium is put into the hands of men and women religious. Those
who have responded to Christ's call to a form of life that already in
this world can anticipate the perfection of the Kingdom of God have a
special place in the Christian community and, by virtue of their
charism, have a unique role in the evangelization of society. Theirs is
not a detachment from the world, it is a different way of being within
the world. It is a particularly profound and non-evasive way, in that
those in consecrated life see social relationships and economic
questions not only as they are, but also and above all as they will be
and therefore as they should be.
Men and women religious leave everything behind (cf. Luke 14:33; 18:29)
in order to open their hearts to a greater fullness and to live more
completely an undivided love for the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:34), and
thus to show prophetically to men and women new forms of relations with
the things of creation and with one's brothers and sisters: relations
oriented towards sharing, built on the freedom of God's children,
relations that accept rather than possess, relations of human promotion
rather than oppression.
Consecrated life focuses its gaze prophetically on the Resurrection,
when men and women will be "like angles in heaven" (Matthew 22:30),
and, already in the present time that we live here and now, it is an
anticipation of that mysterious state of perfection that the merits of
Christ make possible: All of us, already, are in fact "one in Christ
Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). By their witness to the Gospel beatitudes in
their personal and community lives and by their total openness -- with
their vows of obedience, poverty and chastity -- to living with the
Lord for the salvation of the world, consecrated persons imbue social,
political and economic relations with the radicality of the Gospel.
Consecrated life offers a Gospel-based model of coexistence based on
gift and keeps alive the ability of the entire Christian community and
of all people to discern in the "already" the "not yet," to seek
communion and charity, in order to provide human relations with a heart
even in today's society.
The Laity and the Compendium
The Compendium is put above all into the hands of the laity. By virtue
of their baptism, the laity are placed within the mystery of God's love
for the world that Christ has revealed and of which the Church is the
memory and continuation in history. Therefore, the laity share in the
mystery, communion and mission that characterize the Church, but they
do so according to a particular nature, their secular nature. The lives
of the laity are directly involved in the organization of secular life,
in the areas of the economy, of politics, of work, of social
communication, of law, of the organization of institutions in which are
made the decisions and choices that become social structures affecting
The laity are not in the world more so than other ecclesial subjects,
they are in the world in a different way: They deal directly with
secular matters, constructing the architecture of relations between
members of social and political communities, leaving the mark of their
work on the course of world events, determining the organizational and
structural aspects of these events.
The Christian lay faithful, with their professional competence and
their life experience, serve the evangelization of society as they
follow their vocation to "seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in
temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God."
They bring to the Christian community their passion for human needs and
their openness to learn from others, since God is at work also beyond
the official confines of the Church. They bring to the world their
Christian knowledge that orders things according to God's plan and
their keen desire to serve the ecclesial community that by means of
their hands and their work reaches into the recesses of society where
people concretely live.
The Christian laity -- with their competence and professional
capabilities, and by taking on the responsibility to work in a
particular context -- in a certain way complete the Church's social
doctrine on the practical level and mediate its necessary impact on
concrete realities. Evangelization is the proclamation of a new life;
the evangelization of society is not an abstract ideological proposal
but the incarnation of new criteria of behavior in the work of men and
Thus, social doctrine is not mere theoretical knowledge, rather it is
meant "for action"; it is oriented towards life, it is to be applied
with creativity and is to be incarnated. The laity have a very
particular, although not exclusive, role in this area. Since social
doctrine is the encounter between the truth of the Gospel and human
problems, the laity must guide this social doctrine's directives for
action towards concrete and effective operative results, even if these
results are only partial.
The laity are men and women who are willing to take risks and who also
concretely experience this doctrine. Drawing up historical, concrete
solutions to humanity's problems, they are not, so to speak, an
appendix to the Church's social doctrine, but the very heart of this
doctrine, since it has a profound "experiential" character.
The laity must not be abandoned in this work of opening new frontiers
and of working out new responses. The entire Christian community shall
sustain them and encourage them so that they know that, although on the
one hand their choices can only be attributed to themselves without
involving the entire community, on the other hand their efforts are
felt by the community to be the efforts of the community itself; their
hard work and expectations are appreciated and valued. Nor shall the
Christian community refrain from engaging in a collective effort in
temporal realities, lest the community be compromised and suffer
Responsibility for working at the forefront and for making this
doctrine a lived experience cannot be relegated solely to the laity as
individuals. If the ultimate decisions regarding the economic and
political spheres are to be made by the laity in autonomous
responsibility, the fundamental orientational decisions and even the
creation of places for the concrete experience of this doctrine and for
dialogue must be the undertaking of the entire community.
The Christian laity are intermediaries between, on the one hand, the
principles of reflection, the criteria of judgment and the directives
for action found in the Church's social doctrine and, on the other
hand, the concrete and unique situations in which the lay faithful must
act and make decisions. But mediation does not mean a lack of courage,
a tendency to weaken or to compromise. If lay Christians are to be
salt, light and leaven, they must strive to make ever more clearly seen
all that is authentically human in social relations, fearlessly and
with openness and hope towards the future. In this, they are assisted
by the presence of the ecclesial community, by the encouragement of
priests and men and women in consecrated life, by their participation
in sacramental and liturgical life, and by the indications that come to
them from places of community discernment of the signs of the times.
Witness and Planning
In concluding these reflections on the Compendium of the Social
Doctrine of the Church, I would like to emphasize the twofold dimension
of the presence of Christians in society, a twofold inspiration that
comes to us from the Church's social doctrine itself and that in the
future will need to be lived more and more as two realities that
together form a single whole. I am referring to the need for personal
witness, on the one hand, and, on the other, the need for new planning
for an integral humanism in solidarity that involves social structures.
These two dimensions, the personal and the structural, must never be
separated. It is my fervent hope that the Compendium of the Social
Doctrine of the Church will contribute to the development of mature men
and women who are authentic believers and will inspire them to be
credible witnesses, capable of changing the mechanisms of modern
society by their thought and action. This explains the need for
witnesses, martyrs and saints in the area of society as well. These are
people who have lived their presence in society as a "witness to Christ
the Savior"; Popes have repeatedly made reference to such individuals.
We are speaking here of those whom "Rerum Novarum" considered "worthy
of all praise" for their commitment to improve the conditions of
workers. Those who, in the words of "Centesimus Annus," have "succeeded
time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the
truth." Those who, "spurred on by the social magisterium, have sought
to make that teaching the inspiration for their involvement in the
world. Acting either as individuals or joined together in various
groups, associations and organizations, these people represent a great
movement for the defense of the human person and the safeguarding of
There are many such Christians, many of whom are members of the laity,
who "attained holiness in the most ordinary circumstances of life."
Personal witness, the fruit of an adult Christian life, that is, one
that is profound and mature, cannot fail to be firmly rooted also in
the building of a new civilization, the civilization of love.
Social Doctrine Could Aid Politicians,
MADRID, Spain, JULY 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- An effort
be made to make the social doctrine of the Church known, especially to
politicians, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice
Cardinal Renato Martino, speaking to the
of the summer course at Juan Carlos I University in Aranjuez, Spain,
for initiatives to present the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of
the Church to politicians.
The cardinal said the Compendium, written recently
the pontifical council he heads, is "an instrument for the complex
of our time," and "a guide to look to the future with confidence and
The cardinal added that "it helps the individual
the community to which he belongs, it helps the whole ecclesial
and is an integral part of evangelization."
Thus, it is necessary "to teach and sensitize
as "the teaching of the social doctrine of the Church is the
of Catholics of every country," he said.
In particular, Cardinal Martino said that "thought
be given to initiatives that will make it known to politicians."
During his address, the cardinal expressed gratitude
the work of Pope John Paul II.
"As John Paul II was able to transmit the human
of the Christian faith, the Compendium shows the nourishment of this
he said. The cardinals stressed the profound relationship of the
with the life of the Church and the Christian proposal of the following
Cardinal Martino also noted the need to have the
reach the most underprivileged peoples.
He said that he has seen initiatives in Latin
that demonstrate how these communities were already "hoping for
On the Compendium of the Catechism
"Renewal of Catechesis and Evangelization"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
of the address Benedict XVI delivered today from the window of his
before praying the midday Angelus with tens of thousands of tourists
pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.
* * *
A few days ago I had the joy of presenting the
of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For years the need was felt
a brief catechism, which would summarize in a simple but complete
all the essential elements of the Catholic doctrine. Divine Providence
so ordained that this project be realized on the same day that the
of beatification was introduced of our beloved John Paul II, who gave
a determinant boost. While I thank the Lord for this, dear brothers and
sisters, I would like to underline once again the importance of this
and practical instrument for the proclamation of Christ and his Gospel
In the Compendium, as a dialogue between teacher and
is synthesized the broadest exposition of the Church's faith and of
doctrine contained in the Catechism, published by my venerated
in 1992. The Compendium takes up its four parts well connected among
allowing one to understand the extraordinary unity of the mystery of
his plan of salvation for the whole of humanity, the central character
of Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, made man in the womb of the
Mary, who died and rose for us. Present and operating in his Church, in
particular in the sacraments, Christ is the source of our faith, the
of every believer and the teacher of our prayer.
Dear brothers and sisters, at the beginning of the
millennium, how necessary it is that the whole Christian community
teach and witness integrally, unanimously and in agreement the truth of
the Catholic faith, of the doctrine and of morality! May the Compendium
of the Catechism of the Catholic Church contribute also to the desired
renewal of catechesis and evangelization so that all Christians --
youths and adults, families and communities -- docile to the action of
the Holy Spirit, may become catechists and evangelizers in all
helping others to encounter Christ. We ask this with confidence of the
Virgin Mother of God, star of evangelization.
Document Approving Compendium of the Catechism
"A Faithful and Sure Synthesis"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is
document issued "motu proprio" (on his own initiative) by Benedict XVI
for the approval and publication of the Compendium of the Catechism of
the Catholic Church.
* * *
for the approval and publication
of the Compendium
of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
To my Venerable Brothers the Cardinals, Patriarchs,
Priests, Deacons and to all the People of God.
Twenty years ago, work began on the Catechism of the
Church that had been requested by the extraordinary Assembly of the
of Bishops held on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the
of the Second Vatican Council.
I am filled with heartfelt thanks to the Lord God
having given the Church this Catechism, promulgated in 1992 by my
and beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
The great value and beauty of this gift are
above all by the extensive and positive reception of the Catechism
Bishops, to whom it was primarily addressed as a sure and authentic
text for teaching Catholic doctrine and, in particular, for formulating
local catechisms. But it was also confirmed by its vast favorable
in all segments of the People of God, who have come to know and
it in more than fifty translations which to date have been published.
It is with great joy that I now approve and
the Compendium of that Catechism.
The Compendium had been fervently desired by the
in the International Catechetical Congress of October 2002, which gave
voice to a need widely felt in the Church. My beloved Predecessor,
this desire, decided in February 2003 to begin preparation of the text
by entrusting the work to a Commission of Cardinals, over which I
and which was assisted by various experts. In the course of the work, a
draft of the Compendium was submitted to all the Cardinals and the
of Conferences of Bishops, the vast majority of whom evaluated the text
The Compendium, which I now present to the Universal
is a faithful and sure synthesis of the Catechism of the Catholic
It contains, in concise form, all the essential and fundamental
of the Church's faith, thus constituting, as my Predecessor had wished,
a kind of vademecum which allows believers and non-believers alike to
the entire panorama of the Catholic faith.
In its structure, contents and language, the
faithfully reflects the Catechism of the Catholic Church and will thus
assist in making the Catechism more widely known and more deeply
I entrust this Compendium above all to the entire
and, in particular, to every Christian, in order that it may awaken in
the Church of the third millennium renewed zeal for evangelization and
education in the faith, which ought to characterize every community in
the Church and every Christian believer, regardless of age or
But this Compendium, with its brevity, clarity and
is directed to every human being, who, in a world of distractions and
messages, desires to know the Way of Life, the Truth, entrusted by God
to His Son's Church.
Through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother
Christ and Mother of the Church, may everyone who reads this
text recognize and embrace ever more fully the inexhaustible beauty,
and significance of the incomparable Gift which God has made to the
race in His only Son, Jesus Christ, the "Way, the Truth, and the Life"
Given on 28 June 2005, the vigil of the Solemnity of
Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in the first year of my Pontificate.
Pope Presents Compendium of Catechism
As Cardinal Ratzinger He Helped Oversee Its Writing
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict
presented the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a
prepared by a commission he headed as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
During today's presentation in the Vatican, the Pope
the desire to give the Compendium "to every person of good will, who
like to know the unfathomable riches of the salvific mystery of Jesus
It is not a new catechism, but a compendium that
faithfully the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which appeared in 1992.
Benedict XVI handed the Compendium to several
representing various categories of the People of God: a cardinal,
Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and editor of the Catechism; a
Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith; a priest; a deacon; a man and a woman religious; a family
-- father, mother and daughter; two children; two adolescents; three
and a pastoral worker.
In his address, the Pope explained that, after the
of the Catechism, there was "an ever greater and insistent need for a
in synthesis, brief, which presents all and only the essential elements
of the Catholic faith and Catholic morality, formulated in a simple
accessible to all, clear and synthetic."
This need was made evident in the International
Congress of 2002, whose participants asked John Paul II to publish a
2 years of work
In February 2003 John Paul II entrusted the writing
the Compendium to a commission headed by the then prefect of the
for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger.
Preparation of the Compendium entailed "two years of
and fruitful work, which also involved all the cardinals and presidents
of the conferences of bishops," Benedict XVI said. Asked about one of
last drafts of the Compendium, the "vast majority ... evaluated the
favorably," he added.
In presenting the question-and-answer formula of the
the Pontiff hopes "to reopen an ideal dialogue between the teacher and
the disciple, through an urgent series of questions, which involve the
reader, encouraging him to continue in the discovery of ever new
of the truth of his faith."
"The genre of dialogue, moreover, helps to
the text notably, reducing it to the essential," the Holy Father said.
"This might favor the assimilation and possible memorization of the
The Bishop of Rome said he hoped that the Compendium
give "a new impetus to evangelization and catechesis."
The Essentials, in 598 Questions and Answers
A Catechetical Summary in 200 Pages
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The new
of the Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a quick synopsis of the
essential contents of the faith.
The 200-page volume is a collection of 598 questions
answers which summarize the Catechism published in 1992. The Compendium
makes no additions or changes to what is stated in the 700-page
As Benedict XVI explained during the presentation of
new work today, since the publication of the Catechism, there "has been
an ever greater and insistent need for a catechism in synthesis."
The Compendium begins with a document promulgated by
XVI for its approval and publication, and with a brief Introduction by
then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dated last Palm Sunday, March 20, weeks
before he was elected Pope.
In 2003 Pope John Paul II had entrusted to Cardinal
the direction of the commission that was designated to write the
The Compendium is divided in the same four parts of
Part I, "The Profession of Faith," includes 217
Part II, "The Celebration of the Christian Mystery" covers questions
to 356; Part II, "Life in Christ," questions 357 to 533; and Part IV,
Prayer," questions 534 to 598.
The book ends with a double appendix on "Common
(from the sign of the cross, the Gloria and the Our Father, to the
for the Dead and the act of contrition) and "Catholic Doctrine
(such as the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, corporal and spiritual
of mercy, the Beatitudes, etc.).
At present the Compendium, published by the Vatican
House and St. Paul's, is available only in Italian. Translations into
languages will be coordinated by bishops' conferences.
The text includes 14 images taken from masterpieces
Christian art, to illustrate the beginning of each part or section.
"The sacred images, with their beauty, are also a
of the Gospel and express the splendor of the Catholic truth,"
the Pope during the presentation ceremony.
Among the works of art reproduced is the icon of
"Pantokrator" of Theophanes of Crete (1546), which is kept in the
Monastery of Mount Athos; the "Triptych of the Seven Sacraments" by
van der Wyden; two works by "El Greco" -- "St. John Contemplating the
Conception" and "Jesus Praying in the Garden"; and Blessed Angelico's
Sermon on the Mount."
A Sampling From the Compendium
10 Catechetical Questions and Answers
3. How is it possible to know God only with the
Starting from creation, that is, from the world and
human person, man, with reason alone, can know with certainty a God as
origin and end of the universe and as the highest good, truth and
23. What unity is there between the Old and New
Scripture is one, as the Word of God is one; the
plan of God is one, the divine inspiration of both Testaments is one.
Old Testament is a preparation for the New, and the New is the
of the Old: both illuminate one another mutually.
32. How should non-Catholic Christians be regarded?
There are many elements of sanctification and truth
the Churches and ecclesial Communities, which have distanced themselves
from the full communion of the Catholic Church. All these goods come
Christ and lead to Catholic unity. The members of these Churches and
are incorporated to Christ in Baptism: for this reason, we recognize
171. What is the meaning of the affirmation: "There
no salvation outside the Church"?
It means that all salvation comes from Christ-Head
the Church, which is his Body. Therefore, those cannot be saved who,
the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, do not
it and do not persevere. At the same time, thanks to Christ and to his
Church, those can attain eternal salvation who, without fault, do not
the Gospel of Christ and his Church, but seek God sincerely and, under
the influence of grace, try to do his will known through the dictates
471. Why must society protect every embryo?
The inalienable right to life of every human
from his conception, is a constitutive element of civil society and of
its legislation. When the State does not put its force at the service
the rights of all, and, in particular, of the weak, among whom are the
unborn conceived, the very foundations of the State of law are
475. When are scientific, medical or psychological
with persons or human groups morally legitimate?
They are morally legitimate if they are at the
of the integral good of the person and society, without
risks for life and the physical and psychic integrity of the
opportunely informed and with their consent.
482. What is required for peace in the world?
It requires the just distribution and protection of
goods of people, free communications between human beings, respect for
the dignity of persons and peoples, [and] the assiduous practice of
502. What are the offenses to the dignity of
They are: adultery, divorce, polygamy, incest, free
(living together, concubinage), the sexual act before or outside of
514. To what type of work does every person have a
Access to secure and honest work must be open to
free of unjust discrimination, in respect of free economic initiative
a just compensation.
533. What is man's greatest desire?
Man's greatest desire is to see God. This is the cry
his whole being: "I want to see God!" Man attains his authentic and
happiness in the vision and the blessedness of the One who created him
out of love and attracts him to Himself by his infinite love.
Compendium Reflects "Maternal Concern" of Church
Interview with Catechist of Congregation for Clergy
VATICAN CITY, JULY 1, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The
of the Catechism of the Catholic Church reflects the "maternal concern
of the Church" for the faithful, says a Vatican aide.
It does this by placing the "deposit of the faith,
the hands of the people," said Monsignor Tommaso Scenico of the
In this interview with ZENIT, Monsignor Scenico,
of the dicastery's office of catechesis, comments on the Compendium
was presented by Benedict XVI on Tuesday at the Vatican. The Compendium
is currently only available in Italian.
Q: Is the Compendium a separate work from the
of the Catholic Church?
Monsignor Scenico: The teachings are not changed.
deposit of faith presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
is a unique and unrepeatable deposit, so much so that the Compendium is
very closely dependent on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, using
same phraseology of the CCC, preferably the same words, and referring
the Catechism with specific reference numbers.
Given this close dependence on the Catechism of the
Church, the Compendium itself is subdivided in the same four parts as
the CCC: "Lex Credendi" -- the Creed; "Lex Celebrandi" -- The
"Lex Vivendi" -- Morals and "Lex Orandi" -- Prayer. The "depositum
has not been changed, only the manner of exposition.
Q: Yet, still today, there are those who favor St.
Monsignor Scenico: St. Pius X's catechism lends
to memorization. It was not promulgated by the Pope for the whole
Church. It was produced for the Diocese of Rome. Then, by extension,
Pius X's catechism spread all over the world and was understood as the
When Pope John Paul II made the gift of the CCC to
Church in 1992, it was the first time that a Pope promulgated a
for the whole world.
And I must say that in these 13 years, from 1992
today, the Catechism has truly been a sure norm for the teaching of the
faith, a valid and legitimate instrument of ecclesial communion, an
of renewal to which the Holy Spirit incessantly calls the Church, a
text for the elaboration of local catechisms and, finally, a model of
of the revealed faith. Therefore, the CCC, the deposit of the faith, is
Q: Was it really necessary to write the CCC and then
Monsignor Scenico: The Pope maintained that after a
endeavor of secularization or downright secularism, it was worthwhile
condense -- a rich volume of almost 990 pages -- what the Church
lives, celebrates and prays. This was an enormous gift that Pope John
II gave to the Church.
Now, to have elaborated the Compendium reflects the
attitude of the Church which is always mother and teacher, to use an
of Pope John XXIII. It gives evidence of the intention to have this
of faith pass concretely into the hands of the people.
Here is the maternal concern of the Church to give a
version, that is, a synthesis of the unchanged and unchangeable deposit
of the faith.
One can take this treasure in hand, keep it on the
table, or in a purse. It is available in two formats: one slightly
and another somewhat smaller, precisely so that one can carry it and
what the Church believes, celebrates, lives and prays.
To be on the side of the Church does not mean only
be in line with words, but to place oneself on the side of the Church
deeds and then to accept what the Church believes, celebrates, lives
prays. It is what is contained in the final synthesis of this
Q: Are you expecting criticisms on the elaboration
the Compendium? From anyone in particular?
Monsignor Scenico: Yes. The first question I fear is
was this omitted in the Compendium rather than that?" Obviously, many
were left out, the proportion reflects it: 982 pages reduced to 205
pages in a format that is smaller than the CCC. Undoubtedly a synthesis
entails this risk.
Criticisms have already been made, and I was very
when some of the press said that the Pope continues his pro-life
The Catechism obviously promotes life. Therefore, it is only the
to understand, on the part of those who wish to criticize and perhaps
think, that the Compendium, which is a synthesis of the Catechism,
contradict the Catechism itself.
Such criticism cannot be feared. I invite the mass
and those who must report on this gift of love of the Church to the
to understand that it is not about an advertising gimmick, but about
faith of the Church, the synthesis of the faith of the Church.
Obviously there are and will be criticisms, but by
who probably do not understand that the faith of the Church does not
to invade others' fields, but that it is a duty to proclaim the faith
by Jesus Christ -- Go and preach, I will be with you -- this is what
To presume that the Church should say something
in other words, to say or not say something else, would be to not
the reality of the Church. And if the Church did not behave according
what she has received from Jesus Christ, then she would betray Jesus