Book Review: YOUCAT

Bottom Line: There are some major concerns regarding this catechism, which desperately needs a revision! Don’t let your children read this until these issues are fixed!

I hate to be a Debbie Downer when everyone is so excited over this youth catechism, but I can’t let the concerns I have go unnoticed.

Let me start off by saying that I had such high hopes for this catechism. Especially in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s foreward which exhorts youth to “study this catechism”. I can’t say that I agree with our Holy Father’s opinion here… and I wonder whether he read it or simply gave it a quick flip through. When I first received the catechism, I was excited and as I flipped through quickly I couldn’t help but thinking that this was a great idea. Aim a catechism towards the younger generation to help catechize and get them interested in their Catholic faith. The format is appealing–it doesn’t look like a lot to read, and it has fun little stick figures among the pictures, and quotes in the margins supporting the Catholic teachings discussed in the text. Sounds awesome, right?

Here’s where disappointment sets in. There are a few pictures which are questionable. Some are immodest: a girl wearing a spaghetti strap tank with an undergarment which does not hide certain parts best left unnoticed (pg. 55), and in the section on marriage a picture depicting a couple having a moment of intimacy–while not revealing anything, it is a close-up that shocks you when you first see it (pg. 226)– it’s just odd. There is also a group picture where a young man is making a gesture with his hand, I don’t know what it is–is it a gang sign? An inside joke?Who knows? (pg. 168). And while the stick figures were amusing towards the beginning, once you sit and read through the catechism, the stick figures only seem to trivialize whatever point the catechism is trying to make. In one instance, a stick figure is depicted with a gun pointed at a kneeling sweating/crying stick figure– execution style– under the section on the fifth commandment. Yes, the fifth commandment commands us to respect human life, and thus not kill… but cartoon violence does not get that point across effectively.

   

More troublesome than the pictures, are some of the marginal quotes. Many of them are obscure to today’s youth, and many of them aren’t even from Catholics or persons of good moral character. Martin Luther is quoted in a positive light, alongside several other Lutherans–and while I do acknowledge that some other Christian faiths have not completely repudiated the entirety of the Catholic faith, we are trying to catechize young Catholics about Catholicism– we want them to stay in the Church, not leave it because the Lutherans have similar enough beliefs! A Chinese policitian (identified as a philsopher in the catechism) who led an (objectively) sinful lifestyle and then committed suicide is quoted in support of the family (pg. 204)! Sure, he’s most likely unknown to the youth and most who would read the catechism would have no idea who he is or what sort of life he led or how he died… but that information is all readily accesible on the internet to those with an inclination to Google. As a last example (I could go on), some British actor is quoted in the section on Confession as saying “the closest thing to a father confessor is probably a bartender” (pg. 139)… WHAT?!?! If that doesn’t trivialize the Sacrament, I don’t know what does. That quote is completely out of place, inappropriate, and entirely unsuitable for a youth catechism.

Thus, I cannot in good conscience recommend or praise this catechism. We have so many wonderful Catholic Saints, philosophers, writers, etc. who remained faithful to the Church who could (and ought) to have been quoted instead. I hope they revise the quotes and perhaps rethink some of the pictures/illustrations and reissue the catechism.

I wrote this review of  YOUCAT for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Storeonline. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

5 Responses

  1. I have been a reviewer for some time and I always make a point of looking for positive things to say in addition to any negative criticism which is required. Your comments on the photos remind me of the saying ‘to the pure all things are pure’ – really I am sure none of the photos you refer to will adversely affect the faith of any young person. There are a couple of small but glaring errors in the book which you haven’t mentioned – but I think the images are ok

  2. [...] Read the rest of the review. Cancel reply [...]

  3. Once again I am disappointed to find my natural skepticism warranted. [sigh]

    AMDG
    jsa

  4. “There are a couple of small but glaring errors in the book which you haven’t mentioned – but I think the images are ok”

    Can you elaborate?

    The one thing I found strange about the book is a lack of imprimatur for the English translation. Because of the huge problems with the Italian version I would have expected there to be language-specific imprimaturs.

  5. If the Holy Father begs, the youth to read it.. shouldn’t I?
    We cannot be more Catholic than he.
    And to imply that BXVI would be unaware of what he recommended is a bit offputting too

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