Defending Your Right to Catechesis

I’ve been reminding my young adult audiences at Theology on Tap that, according to the Code of Canon Law, they have a right to sound catechesis! All too often, young adults (and for that matter, adults in general) are neglected when it comes to offering catechesis which is to be a lifelong endeavor and not relegated to a childhood experience.

Many young adults are surprised to discover that catechesis is their right according to canon law. Specifically, canon 217 states that:

Since they are called by baptism to lead a life in keeping with the teaching of the gospel, the Christian faithful have the right to a Christian education by which they are to be instructed properly to strive for the maturity of the human person and at the same time to know and live the mystery of salvation.

By the same token, the Church has a duty to provide catechesis for all people. Canon 773 states:

It is a proper and grave duty especially of pastors of souls to take care of the catechesis of the Christian people so that the living faith of the faithful becomes manifest and active through doctrinal instruction and the experience of Christian life.

Likewise, canon 776 declares:

By virtue of his function, a pastor is bound to take care of the catechetical formation of adults, youth, and children… 

At the same time, we all have an obligation to participate in catechesis. Canon 229 emphasizes this obligation:

Lay persons are bound by the obligation and possess the right to acquire knowledge of Christian doctrine appropriate to the capacity and condition of each in order for them to be able to live according to this doctrine, announce it themselves, defend it if necessary, and take their part in exercising the apostolate.

I’ve been telling the young adults that, if catechetical opportunities are not being offered to them in their parishes, they have an obligation to go to their pastor and remind him that their rights are being violated!

That may sound dramatic, but when you stop to think that we believe that the Good News of Jesus is our salvation, then the right to catechesis that proclaims that Good News can be seen as a matter of “life” and “death.”

About Joe Paprocki 2681 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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