Alan Schreck begins his exposition of John Paul’s great apostolic exhortation on catechesis.
It is humbling to write an article for The Sower, a foremost catechetical journal, on one of the central documents in this field: Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation On Catechesis in Our Time (Catechesi Tradendae Oct. 16, 1979). It is valuable to catechists frequently to go back to the ‘sources’ the Church has provided that articulate the principles and guide the practice of this critical work of the Church. Catechesi Tradendae begins by reminding us that Jesus Christ himself entrusted the Church with this essential task of catechesis, which includes, first, making disciples (helping people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God) and secondly, educating and instructing them in Christ’s life (CT 1).
Even though this was one of the earliest of John Paul II’s papal documents, it is the fruit of an effort than spanned four pontificates: that of Bl. John XXIII who called Vatican II to express and teach the Faith to people of our time; Paul VI, who called the fourth synod of Bishops in Oct, 1977 on the topic of catechesis; John Paul I, a master catechist who was preparing to write this document before his death, and John Paul II, who was a participant in the Synod on catechesis. Pope John Paul II desired that this document ‘should strengthen the solidity of the faith and of Christian living’ (CT 4).