Just knowing what the Church teaches does not make you a good Catholic, Pope Francis has said.
During a homily at his Vatican residence, Casa Santa Marta, Francis said there is more to it than just knowing the catechism and urged Catholics to develop their prayer life. “The study of the Catechism teaches us who Christ is. But that is not enough,” the pope said.
Instead, the pope said prayer, silent worship and an awareness of sin are the necessary ingredients for active faith. “We cannot worship without accusing ourselves,” Francis said. “To enter into this bottomless and boundless sea that is the mystery of Jesus Christ, this thing is necessary. [Firstly], prayer: ‘Father, send me the Holy Spirit to lead me to know Jesus.’ Second, adore the mystery, enter into the mystery and adore Him. And third, accuse us. “I am a man with impure lips.”
The pope, who gets up every morning before 5 a.m. to pray in silence, notably insisted on the need for silent adoration. “We cannot know the Lord without this habit of worship, silent worship, adoration,” he explained. “If I’m not mistaken, I believe that this prayer of adoration is the least known to us, it is the one that we do the least.”
The Catechism is a synthesis of Catholic doctrine stated in a systematic way and serves as an educational text for children. In the past, Catholics were asked to memorize the catechism and conservative critics say today’s faithful don’t know enough about their faith, calling for more emphasis on learning to teach from the church.
This pope, however, has emphasized church members deepening their personal faith rather than rote learning. He also called on Catholics to use their faith as motivation to perform acts of charity towards those in need.
Francis was also willing to go out of the message regarding the Catechism on the issue of capital punishment. While the Catechism authorizes the death penalty under certain conditions, the pope pleaded for the worldwide abolition of capital punishment.
The current edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was produced in 1992 after John Paul II commissioned an updated text. Oif there is a worldwide version of the Catechism, local bishops can produce their own. A famous example is the Baltimore Catechism in the United States, which was used as in Catholic schools from 1885 until the mid-1960s.