"YouCat": the New Supplement to the Catechism for Teens

YouCat. The book’s title sounds a bit like a trendy blog or a cartoon character, but its message is a serious one. “It will not make life easy for you,” Pope Benedict XVI writes in the foreword, “because it demands of you a new life.”

Short for “Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church,” YouCat hopes to make the faith more accessible to teens by posing and answering questions relevant to their everyday lives. It provides answers in the form of excerpts from the Catechism as well as short commentaries. These passages are couched in many lively stock images and cute stick-figure drawings, and the margins contain inspiring and encouraging quotes from scripture as well as from individuals ranging from Dostoevsky to St. John Bosco to Nietzsche.


At least 700,000 copies in ten languages will be distributed at World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, and there are plans to translate this supplement to the Catechism into 25 languages by 2012. But while the design might be close to flawless, the text—in a few translations, at least—isn’t.

For example, the French translation is unclear about the church’s teaching on the value of other religions, and the language of the Italian version is unclear regarding the church teaching on euthanasia and “contraceptive methods.” These texts were translated from the original German text, and a bishop with “theological and catechetical expertise” was assigned to serve as a guarantor to ensure accuracy of each. However, the original German text was the only one to pass through a doctrinal office. Closer attention is now being paid to the various translations: A working group already has been assembled to find and collect mistakes and issue a booklet of corrections. It's a bit surprising that the translation of a book meant to speak authoritatively to an impressionable audience was not more closely monitored from the start—especially given the recent attention paid to other translation projects in the church. Thus far, no problems have been reported in the English translation.

In the bottom right corner of each page there are tiny drawings of a stick figure in various poses. When readers flip the pages, the figure becomes animated. It runs, jumps, flips and waves before leaping off the pages. Here’s hoping that, with the corrected text in hand, young Catholics reading the book will learn from it and bring to the world such energy and enthusiasm for their faith.

Kerry Weber


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Juan Lino
7 years ago
I received my copy from Ignatius Press and I've started reading it.  From what I have read so far in the English edition, it's great and should be used with Adults too!  I am so happy that Christ, through His Church has given us this great gift.
7 years ago
I'm looking forward to reviewing a copy for my teenage/pre-teen children to read.  Lots of arts and crafts and talk about love and kindness coming home from CCD, but not much knowledge about the catechism (Funny, when I grew up, we went to "catechism" not "CCD; that's telling, I think). 
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
"It's a bit surprising that the translation of a book meant to speak authoritatively to an impressionable audience was not more closely monitored from the start—especially given the recent attention paid to other translation projects in the church."

Uh ... yes!

Or could the translators actually have thought that what they were saying is actually the truth?  Prudential judgement et al?



Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The appointments are part of an ongoing effort to give a greater role to women in the work of the Roman Curia offices, the central administration of the Catholic church.
Gerard O’ConnellApril 21, 2018
Ivette Escobar, a student at Central American University in San Salvador, helps finish a rug in honor of the victims in the 1989 murder of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter on the UCA campus, part of the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Jesuit martyrs in 2014. (CNS photo/Edgardo Ayala) 
A human rights attorney in the United States believes that the upcoming canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero in October has been a factor in a decision to revisit the 1989 Jesuit massacre at the University of Central America.
Kevin ClarkeApril 20, 2018
Journalists photograph the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in California in 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
In California, Catholic opponents of the death penalty are trying to protect the largest population of inmates awaiting execution in the Western Hemisphere.
Jim McDermottApril 20, 2018
Photo: the Hank Center at Loyola University Chicago
Bishop McElroy said that Catholics must embrace “the virtues of solidarity, compassion, integrity, hope and peace-building.”