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POPE-COMPENDIUM Jun-28-2005 (860 words) xxxi

Pope presents summary of catechism, urges memorizing Latin prayers

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Presenting the new "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church," Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics around the world to memorize the most common Catholic prayers in Latin.

Learning the prayers in Latin as well as in one's own language "will help Christian faithful of different languages pray together, especially when they gather for special circumstances," the pope said June 28 as he distributed the Italian version of the compendium, which included an appendix with the Latin texts of many traditional prayers, including the Sign of the Cross, the Gloria, the Hail Mary and Come, Holy Spirit.

The pope said he hoped the compendium, a 200-page synthesis of the voluminous 1992 catechism, would give Catholics and non-Catholics easy access to the basic and essential tenets of the Catholic faith.

Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, president of the commission Pope John Paul II named to compile the volume, signed the introduction March 20, and then -- as Pope Benedict -- signed the official document promulgating the Italian text June 28.

He said "numerous attempts" had been made around the world to compile a simplified version of the catechism, "which presented various problems regarding not only fidelity and respect for its structure and content, but also the completeness and integrity of Catholic doctrine."

The new compendium, he said, is "an authoritative, certain and complete text regarding the essential aspects of the faith of the church," and it is "in harmony with the catechism approved by the pope and destined for the whole church."

"It is not a new catechism, but a compendium which faithfully reflects the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church,' which remains the source to draw from," particularly when looking for a "harmonious and authentic explanation of Catholic faith and morals," Pope Benedict said.

Pope Benedict presented the volume during a prayer service in the Vatican's Clementine Hall. Cardinals and bishops who work at the Vatican, visiting cardinals from various parts of the world and representatives of the laity and religious orders participated in the liturgy.

In addition to U.S. prelates working at the Vatican, Cardinals Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington and Justin Rigali of Philadelphia attended the ceremony.

The text was available only in Italian. National bishops' conferences will be responsible for translating and publishing the text in their own languages.

Although using a question-and-answer format, the compendium followed the structure of the 1992 catechism with chapters devoted to the profession of faith; the celebration of the Christian mystery; life in Christ; and Christian prayer.

The only additions in the text are the inclusion of 15 works of art, an appendix with traditional catechetical formulas -- like the three theological virtues or the seven deadly sins -- and the appendix with the texts of traditional Catholic prayers in Latin and Italian. The only prayers not presented in Latin are selections from the Coptic, Maronite and Byzantine traditions.

Pope Benedict reminded those gathered for the prayer service what he had said about Latin formulations when he presented the Latin edition of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" to Pope John Paul in 1997: "Latin, for centuries the vehicle and instrument of Christian culture, guarantees not only continuity with our roots, but remains as relevant as ever for strengthening the bonds of the unity of the faith in the communion of the church."

The first of the 598 questions in the book is: "What is God's design for man?"

The answer: "God, infinitely perfect and blessed, in a design of pure goodness freely created man to have him participate in his blessed life. In the fullness of time, God the Father sent his Son as the redeemer and savior of men, who had fallen into sin, gathering them in his church and making them adopted sons by the work of the Holy Spirit and heirs of his eternal beatitude."

The compendium affirmed the dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God and, therefore, condemned murder, abortion, euthanasia, suicide and the destruction of human embryos.

It explained the obligation to promote the common good and social justice as responsibilities flowing from human dignity and human freedom.

The compendium repeated Pope John Paul's strong doubts about the need of modern societies to use the death penalty to protect the public.

While insisting that the fullness of Christ's grace and salvation is found only in the Catholic Church, the compendium said elements of sanctification and truth can be found in other churches and Christian communities as well.

"The members of these churches and communities are incorporated into Christ through baptism; therefore we recognize them as brothers and sisters," it said.

Regarding non-Christians, the compendium reaffirmed church teaching that Christians have a special and unique relationship with the Jewish people, the first to respond to God's call. It also insisted that neither all Jews of Jesus' time nor Jews today can be blamed for the death of Jesus.

As for other non-Christian religions, the compendium repeated church teaching that Christians recognize that what is good and true in their faith comes from God and "can prepare for the acceptance of the Gospel."

END


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