From YOUCAT to DOCAT: Inspiring youth to transform the world

In looking long and hard at this question, the Catholic Church is extending its approach to Catechism for the youth by inspiring them to put their faith into action.

Apr 26, 2017

By Anil Netto
Now that we have celebrated Easter and expressed our faith in the Risen Christ, what happens next?

What exactly do we do about that faith?

In looking long and hard at this question, the Catholic Church is extending its approach to Catechism for the youth by inspiring them to put their faith into action.

First we had the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 2005. Then came YOUCAT in 2011 which is the catechism in language and format that is ‘youth-friendly.’

But once the youth are familiar with their faith as outlined in YOUCAT, what do they do about it? How do they go about putting it into practice?

This is where DOCAT in 2016 —the sequel to YOUCAT — comes into play and tries to answer those questions. (DOCAT comes from the words ‘To Do’ and ‘Catechism.’)

DOCAT, said the Bishop of Rome, is like “a user’s manual that helps us to change ourselves with the Gospel first, and then our closest surroundings, and finally the whole world....”

It is a summary of the social teachings of the Church as found in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine — plus insights into three encyclicals: Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) and Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) and Francis’ Laudato Si (on Care for our Common Home).

Presented in the form of 328 questions and answers in 12 chapters, it explores social issues, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, labour and work, politics and the economy, human dignity and the environment.

The Bishop of Rome’s words in the foreword to the book are revealing. Francis said only conversion of heart can make our world brimming with terror and violence more humane.

That means we have to uphold justice, dialogue, integrity, solidarity with the poor and the marginalised and the oppressed. It also means limitless dedication and loving even if it means dying for the sake of another.

“When you have understood that quite deeply, then you can change the world as committed Christians.” The world, he said, cannot continue down the path that it is taking now. “If a Christian in these days looks away from the need of the poorest of the poor, then in reality he is not a Christian!...”

Indeed, the world is in a critical state: think of the threat of nuclear war, climate change and rising sea levels, the refugee crisis, the depletion of natural resources and the loss of biodiversity, the rise of fascist ideology and the unsustainable capitalist model.

Time is running out, and we don’t have the luxury of dillydallying. God knows, we have to act — and act now

But it is surely beyond the capacity of a few people to bring about change, no matter how well intended and committed they are.
Francis said he was thinking of something more than groups sitting under trees to discuss Catholic social teaching. “My dream is of something greater: I wish I had a million young Christians or, even better, a whole generation who are for their contemporaries ‘walking, talking social doctrine.’”

Indeed, what is needed is a critical mass of Christians working with other people of goodwill — especially the energetic, enthusiastic and idealistic young — to rise to the challenge and turn the tide against the forces that could destroy us. It is not enough to talk about the social teaching of the Church; we have to walk the talk, to put the social teachings to action.

Francis said the only way to change the world is for people to go with Jesus to the margins, right into the middle of the dirt. “Go into politics, too, and fight for justice and human dignity, especially for the poorest of the poor. ”

All of us are the Church, he said. “Make sure, then, that this Church is transformed, that she is alive, because she allows herself to be challenged by the cries of the dispossessed, by the pleading of the destitute, and by those for whom nobody cares.”

Recognising the importance of the youth to be the salt that transforms the Earth, the 2018 Synod of Bishops will bear the theme Faith, Young People and the Discernment of Vocation. Hopefully the Spirit will show the Church how to fully tap the potential of youth to be real agents of change in our world.

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