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 interest.

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 Compendium

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 action.

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, 83).

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 Church's Mission

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 order."

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 Christian message."

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 ecclesial components.

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" (No. 12).

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 countries" (ibid.).

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 Compendium

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 civil life.

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 women.

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 internal divisions.

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 human dignity."

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, Says Cardinal

MADRID, Spain, JULY 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- An effort must be made to make the social doctrine of the Church known, especially to politicians, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Cardinal Renato Martino, speaking to the participants of the summer course at Juan Carlos I University in Aranjuez, Spain, asked for initiatives to present the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church to politicians.

The cardinal said the Compendium, written recently by the pontifical council he heads, is "an instrument for the complex events of our time," and "a guide to look to the future with confidence and hope."

The cardinal added that "it helps the individual understand the community to which he belongs, it helps the whole ecclesial community and is an integral part of evangelization."

Thus, it is necessary "to teach and sensitize people," as "the teaching of the social doctrine of the Church is the responsibility of Catholics of every country," he said.

In particular, Cardinal Martino said that "thought must be given to initiatives that will make it known to politicians."

During his address, the cardinal expressed gratitude for the work of Pope John Paul II.

"As John Paul II was able to transmit the human richness of the Christian faith, the Compendium shows the nourishment of this faith," he said. The cardinals stressed the profound relationship of the Compendium with the life of the Church and the Christian proposal of the following of Christ.

Cardinal Martino also noted the need to have the Compendium reach the most underprivileged peoples.

He said that he has seen initiatives in Latin America that demonstrate how these communities were already "hoping for something like it."


On the Compendium of the Catechism
"Renewal of Catechesis and Evangelization"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today from the window of his study, before praying the midday Angelus with tens of thousands of tourists and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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A few days ago I had the joy of presenting the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For years the need was felt for a brief catechism, which would summarize in a simple but complete manner all the essential elements of the Catholic doctrine. Divine Providence so ordained that this project be realized on the same day that the cause of beatification was introduced of our beloved John Paul II, who gave it 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 useful and practical instrument for the proclamation of Christ and his Gospel of salvation.

In the Compendium, as a dialogue between teacher and disciple, is synthesized the broadest exposition of the Church's faith and of Catholic doctrine contained in the Catechism, published by my venerated predecessor in 1992. The Compendium takes up its four parts well connected among themselves, allowing one to understand the extraordinary unity of the mystery of God, 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 Virgin 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 model of every believer and the teacher of our prayer.

Dear brothers and sisters, at the beginning of the third millennium, how necessary it is that the whole Christian community proclaim, 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 -- children, youths and adults, families and communities -- docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, may become catechists and evangelizers in all environments, 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 the 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.

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for the approval and publication
of the Compendium
of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

To my Venerable Brothers the Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops,
Priests, Deacons and to all the People of God.

Twenty years ago, work began on the Catechism of the Catholic Church that had been requested by the extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council.

I am filled with heartfelt thanks to the Lord God for having given the Church this Catechism, promulgated in 1992 by my venerated and beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

The great value and beauty of this gift are confirmed above all by the extensive and positive reception of the Catechism among Bishops, to whom it was primarily addressed as a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and, in particular, for formulating local catechisms. But it was also confirmed by its vast favorable reception in all segments of the People of God, who have come to know and appreciate it in more than fifty translations which to date have been published.

It is with great joy that I now approve and promulgate the Compendium of that Catechism.

The Compendium had been fervently desired by the participants in the International Catechetical Congress of October 2002, which gave voice to a need widely felt in the Church. My beloved Predecessor, recognizing this desire, decided in February 2003 to begin preparation of the text by entrusting the work to a Commission of Cardinals, over which I presided, 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 Presidents of Conferences of Bishops, the vast majority of whom evaluated the text favorably.

The Compendium, which I now present to the Universal Church, is a faithful and sure synthesis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It contains, in concise form, all the essential and fundamental elements of the Church's faith, thus constituting, as my Predecessor had wished, a kind of vademecum which allows believers and non-believers alike to behold the entire panorama of the Catholic faith.

In its structure, contents and language, the Compendium faithfully reflects the Catechism of the Catholic Church and will thus assist in making the Catechism more widely known and more deeply understood.

I entrust this Compendium above all to the entire Church 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 nationality.

But this Compendium, with its brevity, clarity and comprehensiveness, is directed to every human being, who, in a world of distractions and multifarious 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 of Christ and Mother of the Church, may everyone who reads this authoritative text recognize and embrace ever more fully the inexhaustible beauty, uniqueness and significance of the incomparable Gift which God has made to the human race in His only Son, Jesus Christ, the "Way, the Truth, and the Life" (Jn 14:6).

Given on 28 June 2005, the vigil of the Solemnity of the 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 XVI presented the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a document prepared by a commission he headed as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

During today's presentation in the Vatican, the Pope expressed the desire to give the Compendium "to every person of good will, who would like to know the unfathomable riches of the salvific mystery of Jesus Christ."

It is not a new catechism, but a compendium that summarizes faithfully the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which appeared in 1992.

Benedict XVI handed the Compendium to several persons representing various categories of the People of God: a cardinal, Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and editor of the Catechism; a bishop, 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 catechists; and a pastoral worker.

In his address, the Pope explained that, after the publication of the Catechism, there was "an ever greater and insistent need for a catechism in synthesis, brief, which presents all and only the essential elements of the Catholic faith and Catholic morality, formulated in a simple manner, accessible to all, clear and synthetic."

This need was made evident in the International Catechetical Congress of 2002, whose participants asked John Paul II to publish a Compendium.

2 years of work

In February 2003 John Paul II entrusted the writing of the Compendium to a commission headed by the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger.

Preparation of the Compendium entailed "two years of intense and fruitful work, which also involved all the cardinals and presidents of the conferences of bishops," Benedict XVI said. Asked about one of the last drafts of the Compendium, the "vast majority ... evaluated the text favorably," he added.

In presenting the question-and-answer formula of the Compendium, 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 aspects of the truth of his faith."

"The genre of dialogue, moreover, helps to abbreviate the text notably, reducing it to the essential," the Holy Father said. "This might favor the assimilation and possible memorization of the contents."

The Bishop of Rome said he hoped that the Compendium would 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 Compendium 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 and answers which summarize the Catechism published in 1992. The Compendium makes no additions or changes to what is stated in the 700-page Catechism.

As Benedict XVI explained during the presentation of the 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 Benedict 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 Ratzinger the direction of the commission that was designated to write the Compendium.


The Compendium is divided in the same four parts of the Catechism.

Part I, "The Profession of Faith," includes 217 questions; Part II, "The Celebration of the Christian Mystery" covers questions 218 to 356; Part II, "Life in Christ," questions 357 to 533; and Part IV, "Christian Prayer," questions 534 to 598.

The book ends with a double appendix on "Common Prayers" (from the sign of the cross, the Gloria and the Our Father, to the Prayer for the Dead and the act of contrition) and "Catholic Doctrine Formulas" (such as the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, corporal and spiritual works of mercy, the Beatitudes, etc.).

At present the Compendium, published by the Vatican Publishing House and St. Paul's, is available only in Italian. Translations into other languages will be coordinated by bishops' conferences.

The text includes 14 images taken from masterpieces of Christian art, to illustrate the beginning of each part or section.

"The sacred images, with their beauty, are also a proclamation of the Gospel and express the splendor of the Catholic truth," explained the Pope during the presentation ceremony.

Among the works of art reproduced is the icon of Christ "Pantokrator" of Theophanes of Crete (1546), which is kept in the Stavronikita Monastery of Mount Athos; the "Triptych of the Seven Sacraments" by Roger van der Wyden; two works by "El Greco" -- "St. John Contemplating the Immaculate Conception" and "Jesus Praying in the Garden"; and Blessed Angelico's "The 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 light of reason?

Starting from creation, that is, from the world and the 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 infinite beauty.

23. What unity is there between the Old and New Testaments?

Scripture is one, as the Word of God is one; the salvific plan of God is one, the divine inspiration of both Testaments is one. The Old Testament is a preparation for the New, and the New is the fulfillment of the Old: both illuminate one another mutually.

32. How should non-Catholic Christians be regarded?

There are many elements of sanctification and truth in the Churches and ecclesial Communities, which have distanced themselves from the full communion of the Catholic Church. All these goods come from Christ and lead to Catholic unity. The members of these Churches and Communities are incorporated to Christ in Baptism: for this reason, we recognize them as brothers.

171. What is the meaning of the affirmation: "There is no salvation outside the Church"?

It means that all salvation comes from Christ-Head through the Church, which is his Body. Therefore, those cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, do not enter 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 know 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 of their conscience.

471. Why must society protect every embryo?

The inalienable right to life of every human individual, 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 of 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 undermined.

475. When are scientific, medical or psychological experiments with persons or human groups morally legitimate?

They are morally legitimate if they are at the service of the integral good of the person and society, without disproportionate risks for life and the physical and psychic integrity of the individuals, opportunely informed and with their consent.

482. What is required for peace in the world?

It requires the just distribution and protection of the goods of people, free communications between human beings, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, [and] the assiduous practice of justice and fraternity.

502. What are the offenses to the dignity of marriage?

They are: adultery, divorce, polygamy, incest, free unions (living together, concubinage), the sexual act before or outside of marriage.

514. To what type of work does every person have a right?

Access to secure and honest work must be open to all, free of unjust discrimination, in respect of free economic initiative and a just compensation.

533. What is man's greatest desire?

Man's greatest desire is to see God. This is the cry of his whole being: "I want to see God!" Man attains his authentic and full 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 Compendium 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, in the hands of the people," said Monsignor Tommaso Scenico of the Congregation for Clergy.

In this interview with ZENIT, Monsignor Scenico, head of the dicastery's office of catechesis, comments on the Compendium that 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 Catechism of the Catholic Church?

Monsignor Scenico: The teachings are not changed. The deposit of faith presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] is a unique and unrepeatable deposit, so much so that the Compendium is very closely dependent on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, using the same phraseology of the CCC, preferably the same words, and referring to the Catechism with specific reference numbers.

Given this close dependence on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Compendium itself is subdivided in the same four parts as is the CCC: "Lex Credendi" -- the Creed; "Lex Celebrandi" -- The Sacraments; "Lex Vivendi" -- Morals and "Lex Orandi" -- Prayer. The "depositum fidei" has not been changed, only the manner of exposition.

Q: Yet, still today, there are those who favor St. Pius X's catechism.

Monsignor Scenico: St. Pius X's catechism lends itself to memorization. It was not promulgated by the Pope for the whole Catholic Church. It was produced for the Diocese of Rome. Then, by extension, St. Pius X's catechism spread all over the world and was understood as the universal catechism.

When Pope John Paul II made the gift of the CCC to the Church in 1992, it was the first time that a Pope promulgated a catechism for the whole world.

And I must say that in these 13 years, from 1992 until today, the Catechism has truly been a sure norm for the teaching of the faith, a valid and legitimate instrument of ecclesial communion, an instrument of renewal to which the Holy Spirit incessantly calls the Church, a reference text for the elaboration of local catechisms and, finally, a model of inculturation of the revealed faith. Therefore, the CCC, the deposit of the faith, is unrepeatable.

Q: Was it really necessary to write the CCC and then its Compendium?

Monsignor Scenico: The Pope maintained that after a great endeavor of secularization or downright secularism, it was worthwhile to condense -- a rich volume of almost 990 pages -- what the Church believes, lives, celebrates and prays. This was an enormous gift that Pope John Paul II gave to the Church.

Now, to have elaborated the Compendium reflects the maternal attitude of the Church which is always mother and teacher, to use an _expression of Pope John XXIII. It gives evidence of the intention to have this deposit of faith pass concretely into the hands of the people.

Here is the maternal concern of the Church to give a small 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 night table, or in a purse. It is available in two formats: one slightly larger and another somewhat smaller, precisely so that one can carry it and know what the Church believes, celebrates, lives and prays.

To be on the side of the Church does not mean only to be in line with words, but to place oneself on the side of the Church in deeds and then to accept what the Church believes, celebrates, lives and prays. It is what is contained in the final synthesis of this Compendium.

Q: Are you expecting criticisms on the elaboration of the Compendium? From anyone in particular?

Monsignor Scenico: Yes. The first question I fear is "why was this omitted in the Compendium rather than that?" Obviously, many things were left out, the proportion reflects it: 982 pages reduced to 205 small 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 displeased when some of the press said that the Pope continues his pro-life propaganda. The Catechism obviously promotes life. Therefore, it is only the inability to understand, on the part of those who wish to criticize and perhaps cannot think, that the Compendium, which is a synthesis of the Catechism, cannot contradict the Catechism itself.

Such criticism cannot be feared. I invite the mass media and those who must report on this gift of love of the Church to the Church, to understand that it is not about an advertising gimmick, but about the faith of the Church, the synthesis of the faith of the Church.

Obviously there are and will be criticisms, but by those who probably do not understand that the faith of the Church does not wish to invade others' fields, but that it is a duty to proclaim the faith incarnated by Jesus Christ -- Go and preach, I will be with you -- this is what Christ said.

To presume that the Church should say something else, in other words, to say or not say something else, would be to not understand the reality of the Church. And if the Church did not behave according to what she has received from Jesus Christ, then she would betray Jesus Christ.