A rather embarrassing incident in 2005 became the birth of YOUCAT. At the
presentation of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
in Vienna, by Cardinal Schönborn, a disillusioned journalist piped up:
Your Eminence, I wanted to buy the catechism for my growing children, but it
is totally incomprehensible to young people. I will not buy it.
This statement triggered a presumably unique event in the church. The grassroots
initiative YOUCAT, thanks to the patronage of Cardinal Schönborn,
became the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church! YOUCAT was published this
year in 22 languages in 50 countries and 700 000 copies will be in the backpacks
of the World Youth Day pilgrims in Madrid.
YOUCAT, the little yellow booklet, appears like a Travel-Guide-Through-the-
Faith, and it intends to be exactly that. It originated from the private initiative
of four authors: two priests, Johannes Eltz, now pastor of Frankfurt, and Dr.
Christian Schmitt, priest of the community Emanuel and the diocese of Muenster,
and two lay theologians, Bernard Meuser, director of the publishing house
Pattloch and author of books on spiritual topics, and Michaela Heereman,
journalist and author, both married and parents of several children.
What makes YOUCAT unique is the staff of 52 young people between the ages of
15 and 25, church-affiliated and un-churched, Catholic and Protestant,
apprentices and students. In two summer camps in 2006 and 2007 they plowed
through the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with the help
of the authors. For five days, 6 to 8 hours per day, they read and discussed the
teachings of the Church, in 4 groups according to topical categories. Their
openly voiced lack of understanding, their harsh criticism of the difficult
theological terminology, their existential questions, and their growing interest
in theological matters lead and inspired the authors’ efforts to depict the
deposit of faith of the Church in a relevant and attractive form for young