Vatican releases text for installing catechists
Catholics installed in the new ministry of catechists are not simply religious education teachers but are engaged in proclaiming the faith under the guidance of priests, a letter on the new Rite of Institution of Catechists says.
Archbishop Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, released the Latin text and a letter yesterday, seven months after Pope Francis instituted the “ministry of catechist” as a formal office and vocation in the Church.
Bishops’ 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 catechists play in different parts of the world.
In 2022, Archbishop Roche said, his office would release the revised text for the Rite for the Institution of Lectors and Acolytes, a ministry Pope Francis opened to women in January.
“The term ‘catechist’ indicates different realities in relation to the ecclesial context in which it is used,” Archbishop Roche wrote. “Catechists in mission territories differ from those working in churches of long-standing tradition. Moreover, individual ecclesial experiences also produce very different characteristics and patterns of action, so much so that it is difficult to give it a unitary and synthetic description.”
He said the Code of Canon Law affirms that when it provides for the possibility of entrusting to a non-ordained person a share in the exercise of pastoral care in a parish, it is always under the moderation of a priest.
“It is necessary, therefore, to form the community 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 lives their baptism in fruitful collaboration and shared responsibility with the ordained ministers, so that their pastoral care may reach everyone.”
The Pope’s institution of a formal ministry of catechist, he said, also should not end the practice of all a parish’s or school’s religion teachers being commissioned and given a mandate at the beginning of each school year.