A new version of 'Youcat', the hugely popular youth catechism, which has been adapted for young children was launched at the World Meeting of Families’ pastoral congress in Dublin on Wednesday by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna.
Stressing that it was a “faith book not Facebook”, the Archbishop of Vienna paid tribute to the new publication which he said would be an important resource for children and their parents as “a book to be read and discussed together”.
Describing children as “great theologians”, the Cardinal said, “out of the mouth of children you can get the deepest answers to the greatest questions.”
The Foreword for the new catechism has been written by Pope Francis
Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick and one of the authors of ‘Youcat for Kids’, Michaela Freifrau von Heeremann, also spoke about the importance of establishing faith within the family.
Speaking to The Tablet, Bishop Leahy suggested that ‘Youcat for Kids’ could also be read by older age groups and that it might “help people who feel disaffected by the faith to look again to see what are we about.”
“Very often people don’t realise that the church has a vision about life and about the meaningfulness of life that isn’t just limited to a few issues like sexual morality – it is a much broader vision about life.”
One of the themes underpinning ‘Youcat for Kids’ is care for the earth. Praising this, Bishop Leahy said, “There is a huge consciousness of this environmental issue from Laudato Si”, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment.
“There is no doubt the universal outreach of this topic is a sign of the times,” Bishop Leahy said.
The Irish bishops Laudato Si committee is currently rolling out specially prepared resources for parishes and schools for the Season of Creation which runs from 1 September until 4 October.
Separately, an extra interreligious event has been incorporated into the World Meeting of Families on Friday evening with the theme ‘Care for our Common Home’. It will take place at the Church of Ireland’s Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.
On the Church’s abuse crisis, Bishop Leahy paid tribute to the many people attending WMOF2018 who were parish delegates or were volunteering on church committees. He said the issue of abuse was very much on their minds.
“We have an army of people across Ireland who are parish delegates, parish officers, on advisory committees, involved in training programmes – we have an incredible amount going on in the area of safeguarding. I suspect a lot of people are coming here with that knowledge around safeguarding and they are grieving over the suffering of people who have suffered abuse. They are very aware of that and they don’t want to be brushing it aside.”
Rabbi Zalman Lent in his address at the session ‘In Light of the Word: Celebrating Family in the Judeo-Christian Tradition’ spoke about the impact of a “highly technological and distracted world” on families. “How do you make sure that you don’t leave God out of the equation if he is not on Facebook” he asked as he discussed the “unprecedented challenges” for today’s children from the internet and social media.
Amid instantly accessible online pornography and cyberbullying, children need to know that they are secure and loved unconditionally, he said. In the Jewish faith, the family home is referred to as a mini temple - a safe and sacred space.
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham was moderator at the panel discussion ‘The Logic of Complementarity: Why Mothers and Fathers Matter in Amoris Laetitia’.
Speaking to The Tablet, he explained how at Dublin Airport, while waiting to collect his baggage, he and his secretary, Fr Dominic Cosslett, were approached by a woman who had been om the flight from Birmingham and was accompanying her mother’s coffin back to Ireland for burial.
She told the Archbishop that she was so pleased he had been on the flight in view of the significance of her mother’s last journey.
The Archbishop said it underlined to him the practical pastoral role of priests in family life.
On Saturday, the Archbishop will celebrate 11am Mass for the 100-strong delegation from Birmingham at University Church in Dublin which was founded by Blessed John Henry Newman when he was involved in setting up the Catholic University of Ireland.
The Tablet at WMOF2018
The Tablet is at the World Meeting of Families. Come and say "hello" – the main exhibition area - stand 91