Saint Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

YouCat Quotes- A Cause for Scandal?

I have been reading through the new youth catechism, 'YouCat' today. I must say that I am perplexed by the use of the quotes which supplements the text of this catechism. Beside each series of questions throughout the YouCat there are quotes which supposedly relate to the body of the text to supplement it. In the front of the YouCat it gives the four categories that these quotes fall into. I have a few questions that perhaps my readers can help me answer. First I want give you the entire explanation from the front of the YouCat explaining the use of the quotes so you can get an idea of what I am talking about. On the same page which has the Nihil Obstat on it, (From the Austrian Bishops, with the approval of the German bishops conference and prior approval of the CDF) there are instructions for the use of the YouCat. The instructions read as follows:

Instructions for Use

The Youth Catechism, which is written in Language suitable for young people, deals with the entire Catholic faith as it was presented in the Catechsim of the Catholic Church (CCC of 1997), without aiming, however at the completeness provided in that volume. The work is structured in Question-and-Answer format, and numbers after each answer refer the reader to the more extensive and in-depth treatments of the CCC. A commentary following the answer is meant to give the young person additional help in understanding the questions that are discussed and their significance in his life. Furthermore, the Youth Catechism offers in the margin a continuous series of supplementary elements, such as pictures, summary definitions, citations from Sacred Scripture, quotations from saints, and reliable teachers of the faith but also from non-religious authors. At the conclusion of the book, there is an index of subjects and persons to facilitate finding specific topics. 

So it would seem that there are four types of supplementary texts used in the YouCat; 1. summary definitions, 2. citations from Scripture, 3. quotations from saints and reliable teachers of faith, and 4. non-religious authors. Which of the above four categories does the arch-heretic Martin Luther fall into? He is quoted at least three times. (pages 93 and 200 right under Saint Jerome whom he admittedly hated, for instance he once said in referring to the great Saint Jerome, "I know no doctor whom I hate so much, although I once loved him so ardently. Surely there's more learning in Aesop, than in all of Jerome" (LW 54, 72) Obviously the quotes of Luther used in the YouCat are not summary definitions, he did not write any of the books of Sacred Scripture, he is certainly not a saint, he is not a reliable teacher of the faith, nor is he a non-religious author. Martin Luther once said of the pope, "I believe the pope is the masked and incarnate devil because he is the Antichrist. As Christ is God incarnate, so the Antichrist is the devil incarnate." Of course that quote is not in the YouCat. Anyone care to answer how Luther has made his way into the new youth catechism, and which category above he falls into? Can you explain how using the arch-heretic's quotes helps our youth to understand the Catholic faith any better? For example, on page 201 the topic covered is the Sabbath. On the side margin Luther is quoted, "That is the difference between animals and man: the latter has a Sunday outfit, too." OK, great one!

Secondly, many of the quotes used seem to trivialize the faith. For example, on page 139 the topics covered are priests and the forgiveness of sin. Next to that text there are quotes in the sidebar which supplement the text. One of them is a quote by the British actor Peter Sellers which reads, "The closest thing to a father confessor is probably a bartender." OK, anyone care to explain that one? Is that the punchline? How does that quote help to catechize our youth? I asked a teenage kid from my parish who Peter Sellers was and he looked at me and said, "who?"

Thirdly, there are almost as many non-Catholics quoted as there are Catholics. For example, Brother Roger Schutz, the founder of Taize is quoted several times (pg 57,190), Ludwig Fuerbach, the atheist philosopher is quoted (pg 57) who is best known for his attack on Christianity titled, 'The Essence of Christianity'. We have the liberal humanist philosopher Erich Fromm quoted on page 108, Soren Kierkegaard is quoted on many pages including 150,168, 192, Dietrich Bonhoeffer on 158, Friedrich Von Bodelschwingh on page173, Lu Buwei, the ancient Chinese philosopher/emperor who committed suicide after committing scandalous acts is quoted on page 204, Friederich Nietzche on page 252, and the list goes on and on. I am not kidding you. These people are all used to supplement the Catholic faith in the new YouCat. I really am stunned by this publication. Am I over reacting?

It is also worthy to mention that a majority of the quotes used are from Germans, which are not even known to most Americans. The catechism is supposed to teach and promote the Catholic faith. It is not supposed to be a compilation of famous quotations from German authors, poets and philosophers or famous British actors. I am sure if I dug deep enough I could find a decent quote by Michael Jackson, or Mick Jagger, but should we use their quotes in the catechism? I have talked to several Catholics about this YouCat and they are scandalized by it, and most tell me they would never give it to their kids to use. Not only are the quotes that are used to supplement the main text in bad taste, but the text itself is quite ambiguous in many places. I will not cover that in this post, perhaps at a later date. Any thoughts?


scotju said...

My thought abot YouCat: Peter Sellers, if he was still alive, could use it as the script for one of his comedies! ROTFL!

Justin said...

I don't think you are overreacting at all. This is plain bizarre but to be honest I wasn't expecting much. It's sad but today I don't really expect anything less than quotes by Martin Luther or Fuerbach coming out of certain members of the Church.

I also don't get the desire to quote heretics, atheists anmd other non Catholics but it has been all the rage for decades in this age of ecumania.

I'm not a sedevacantist but I truly believe that there is a deep, deep crisis of basic faith from the highest levels of the Vatican on down.If that wasn't the case would stuff like this even come out of be given a Nihil Obstat?

Matthew Bellisario said...

I also did not expect much Justin, but I did not expect them to do something like this either. What I also find odd is that not many Catholics, lay or clergy seem to even have noticed or care about this. This is an official Catechism containing quotes from a guy who hated the Pope, hated many of the Saints, and split the Church on account of his own personal arrogance and attachment to sin. How does this help to strengthen the faith of or youth? Should they now look up to Luther?

Taylor Marshall said...

This is very alarming. Thank you for sharing.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Thanks for stopping by Taylor. Hopefully enough Catholics will notice these problems and ask for a possible revision.

Alan Aversa said...

Why isn't YouCat available online for free?

Gilbert in Texas said...

Matthew, thank you for your insight. I did not know about these flaws. I purchased the book for my 16-year-old son shortly after it came out, fortunately it hasn't sparked much interest on his part, but with your newfound information that may now change. I'll let you know what happens. Thanks brother.

Gilbert in Texas said...

Matthew, thank you for your insight. I did not know about these flaws. I purchased the book for my 16-year-old son shortly after it came out, fortunately it hasn't sparked much interest on his part, but with your newfound information that may now change. I'll let you know what happens. Thanks brother.

Alan Aversa said...

The best article exposing YouCat's heresies is this one by Sungenis: "The Vatican’s 'YouCat' Catechism: Weak on Homosexuality, Contraception, Euthanasia, Evolution, and Scripture."