Vatican publishes text for installation of catechists, ministry explains

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Catholics and Catholics officially installed in the new ministry of catechists are not simply teachers of religious education but are engaged in “the proclamation and transmission of the faith, fulfilling this role in collaboration with the ministers ordained and under their direction. advice ”, said a letter accompanying the Latin text of the Rite of the Institution of Catechists.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, published the Latin text and a letter on December 13, seven months after Pope Francis instituted the “ministry of the catechist” as an official function and vocation in the church.

Episcopal conferences will be responsible for translating the rite into their local languages ​​and seeking Vatican approval for local adaptations, which are expected given the variety of roles played by catechists in different parts of the world.

In 2022, Archbishop Roche said, his office would publish the revised text of the Rite for the Institution of Lecturers and Acolytes, a ministry that Pope Francis opened to women in January.

“The term ‘catechist’ indicates different realities in relation to the ecclesial context in which it is used,” wrote Bishop Roche. “Catechists in mission territories differ from those who work in churches with a long tradition. Moreover, individual ecclesial experiences also produce very different characteristics and modes of action, so much so that it is difficult to give a unitary and synthetic description.

In different parts of the world, he said, one can find officially recognized catechists “guiding community prayer, especially the Sunday liturgy in the absence of a priest or deacon; help the sick; directing funeral celebrations; to train and guide other catechists; coordinate pastoral initiatives; human promotion according to the social doctrine of the Church; to help poor people; fostering relationships between the community and ordained ministers.

Bishop Roche declared that people should not be surprised by “the breadth and variety of functions” associated with catechists because “the exercise of this lay ministry fully expresses the consequences of baptism and, in the particular situation of the absence of a stable presence of ordained ministers, it is a participation in their pastoral action.

“This is what the Code of Canon Law affirms when it provides for the possibility of entrusting a non-ordained person a part in the exercise of pastoral care in a parish, always under the moderation of a priest”, writes -he. “The community must therefore be formed so that it does not see the catechist as a substitute for the priest or deacon, but as a member of the lay faithful who experience their baptism in fruitful collaboration and a shared responsibility with the ordained ministers. , so that their pastoral care reaches everyone.

Those chosen for the ministry of catechists, he said, are to be called by their bishop and instituted in what the church calls a “stable” manner. While the specific terms of their ministry rest with the local bishop, they are only installed in the ministry once and for a substantial period of time.

Bishop Roche also included a list of those who “should not be instituted as catechists”:

– “Those who have already started their path towards the holy orders and in particular have been admitted among the candidates for the diaconate and the priesthood”, because the ministry of catechist is a lay ministry.

– “Religious and religious – whether or not they belong to Institutes whose charism is catechesis – unless they act as leaders of a parish community or coordinators of catechetical activity.

– “Those who fulfill a role exclusively for the members of an ecclesial movement” since this role is assigned by the leaders of the movement and not by the diocesan bishop.

– “Those who teach the Catholic religion in schools, unless they also exercise other ecclesiastical tasks in the service of the parish or the diocese. “

The establishment by the pope of a formal catechist ministry, he said, should also not end the practice of all religious teachers in a parish or school who are commissioned and appointed at the start of each school year.

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Copyright © 2021 Catholic News Service / United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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