Vatican: Catechesis in the era of digital culture and the faith crisis
The new Directory for Catechesis, presented today at the Vatican, recalls the missionary responsibility of every baptized person and the urgency of finding new languages with which to communicate the faith. Catechesis, “must be intimately united with the work of evangelization and cannot be separated from it”.
Catechesis in the era of digital culture with the consequent globalization and superficiality linked to it, and in a historical moment marked, among other things, by a dramatic crisis of faith, maintaining the union between the first announcement and the maturation of the faith, that evangelization which is the primary task in the life of the Church.
This is the perspective in which the new Directory for catechesis, was presented to press today at the Vatican.
President of the Pontifical council for promoting the new evangelization, Msgr. Rino Fisichella, said the emergence of digital culture, made the Directory necessary, the third, after those of 1971 and 1977.
Divided into 3 parts and 12 chapters, the 326 page Directory recalls the missionary responsibility of every baptized person and the urgency of finding new languages with which to communicate the faith. It introduces three basic principles: Witness, because “the Church does not grow by proselytism, but by attraction”; Mercy, authentic catechesis that makes the proclamation of faith credible; and Dialogue, free and open dialogue, which does not oblige but which, starting from love, contributes to peace.
Secretary of the Pontifical Council, Msgr. Octavio Ruiz Arenas, added ” the Church no longer lives in a regime of Christianity but in a secularised society, in which the phenomenon of distance from the faith is aggravated by a now lost sense of the sacred, and the range of Christian values called into question”, catechesis,” must be intimately united with the work of evangelization and cannot be separated from it “.
Msgr. Fisichella noted “in this relationship, the primacy belongs to evangelization not to catechesis”.
The Directory, therefore, starts from the formation of catechists, who must “be catechists before being catechists”, in order to be “credible witnesses” of the faith, without being caught up in the “sterile pastoral concern”. “Emphasising the specific responsibilities for catechesis – from the bishop as first catechist of his diocese, to grandparents – catechesis cannot be delegated but is the most intimate essence of all forms and ways of preaching the faith- said Msgr. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, delegate for the catechesis of the same Pontifical council”.
The family that offers a Christian education “more witnessed than taught” is also important for catechesis, as an active subject of evangelization. In the face of irregular situations and new family scenarios present in contemporary society, in which there is an emptying of the transcendent meaning of the family, the Church is called to accompany in faith through closeness, listening and understanding.
A “culture of inclusion” that is victorious over that of “waste” which is of course also valid for realities such as the disabled, migrants and prisoners.
The centrality of the proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ today must therefore confront the internet and catechists must educate the digital use, especially young people for whom digital culture is perceived as “natural”.
The digital world, says the Directory, has positive aspects – it promotes independent information to protect the most vulnerable people – but it also has the “dark side” of loneliness, manipulation, cyberbullying, prejudice. Furthermore, being neither emotional and intuitive, it is devoid of critical analysis, generating only passive recipients.
For the catechist it is a matter of contrasting the “instant culture”, devoid of value hierarchies and perspectives and unable to distinguish truth and quality. Above all, young people will be accompanied in the search for an inner freedom that helps them differentiate themselves from the “social flock”. “The challenge of evangelization involves that of inculturation in the digital continent,” says the Directory.
The document then addresses issues such as the relationship with science, recommending preparation to eliminate prejudices and clarify the apparent conflicts between science and faith, also enhancing the testimony of Christian scientists, an example of harmony and synthesis between the two.
This statement includes the fact that in bioethics “not everything that is technically possible is morally permissible”. A distinction must be made between care and manipulation, and pay attention to eugenics and the discrimination it entails.
In the bioethical field, specific training will be needed for catechists that starts from the principle of sacredness and inviolability of human life. No, therefore to the death penalty, “an inhuman measure that humiliates the dignity of the person”.
The Directory also affirms one of the dearest themes to Pope Francis: a “profound ecological conversion” to be promoted through a catechesis attentive to the protection of Creation and inspiring a virtuous life, far from consumerism, because “integral ecology is an integral part of Christian life “.
Ultimately, said Msgr. Fisichella a catechism that, “allows you to discover that faith is really the encounter with a person before being a moral proposal, and that Christianity is not a religion of the past, but an event of the present”.