Catholic Directory for Catechesis in ‘dynamic continuity’ with Church Teachings released

Archbishop Rino Fisichella presents the new Directory for Catechesis at the Vatican, June 25, 2020.
Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

The Vatican Thursday published a new directory for catechesis, emphasizing both its continuity with two previous directories and its new content on contemporary issues such as sex and gender and medical advancements.

“The new Directory for Catechesis offers the fundamental theological-pastoral principles and some general orientations which are relevant for the practice of catechesis in our time,” Archbishop Rino Fisichella wrote in the introduction to the directory. 

The directory was released in Italian June 25. It will be published in the major global languages.

Fisichella is president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which is responsible for the new edition of the directory, a 300-page book intended as a guide to bishops, priests, religious, and lay Catholics involved in teaching the Catholic faith.

The new directory follows editions published in 1971 and 1997. The 1971 General Catechetical Directory was created in an effort to systematize the teachings of the Second Vatican Council for catechesis.

“This Directory for Catechesis places itself in a dynamic continuity with the two which preceded it,” Fisichella wrote in the introduction.

According to the archbishop, the guiding criterion for the writing of the new edition was deepening the Church’s understanding of the role of catechesis in the area of evangelization.

Catechesis “needs to take on the very characteristics of evangelization,” but without substituting it, Fisichella said at a press conference June 25. “In this relationship, the primacy belongs to evangelization not to catechesis.”

The directory’s introduction states that each directory is in continuity with the Church’s teachings, especially the documents of Vatican II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, and synods of bishops.

Among the new issues tackled by the 2020 directory are bioethics, sex and gender, care for creation, and the death penalty.

On bioethics, the directory emphasizes the difference between “therapeutic intervention and manipulation,” especially when it leads to the risk of practicing eugenics.

The document also affirms God’s creation of the human person as “male and female.” It notes that while the Church is aware of the personal complexity some people experience in the realm of gender and sexuality, “however, she is aware that, in a perspective of faith, sexuality is not only a physical datum, but is a personal reality, a value entrusted to the responsibility of the person.”

In the face of modern challenges in the areas of bioethics and gender, the directory says that catechists should promote education rooted in the faith and Christian morality, all in light of the Magisterium of the Church.

The book provides some fundamental elements for catechists to highlight, which are that “God is the initial and final reference of life, from his conception to natural death; the person is always unity of spirit and body; science is at the service of the person; life must be accepted in any condition, because it is redeemed by the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ.”

About the death penalty, the directory emphasizes the “intrinsic and inalienable dignity” of every human person, and references the teaching of recent popes, especially Pope Francis’ 2018 change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church which declared the death penalty “inadmissiable.”

“Catechesis, therefore, will have to make every effort to make the Church’s teaching understood and to help to create a new culture,” the document states.

On care for the common home, the directory references the need for “ecological conversion” in the face of accelerating and complex ecological problems.

“A catechesis sensitive to the protection of creation promotes a culture of attention paid both to the environment and to the people who live there,” it states, adding that part of environmental responsibility is responsibility and respect for other people by living a life of virtue free of consumerism.

The document also addresses the new challenges of the digital culture and the culture of globalization.

The directory highlighted the need for training in these areas, since both issues “are so interconnected that they determine each other and produce phenomena that highlight a radical change in the existence of people.”


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