In a presentation to fellow U.S. bishops on Friday, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport unveiled a proposal for a new institute on the Catechism. 

Bishop Caggiano said the institute would not be a physical building or a single event, but would be a “comprehensive initiative” to address recent challenges to the faith in the United States. He is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on the Catechism, which is sponsoring the initiative.

On Friday, the bishop cited a growing disaffiliation with the faith among youth, a need for catechesis to be “informational and formational,” the necessity of using technology to preach the Gospel, and a rise in the need for Catholic apologetics. All of these are reasons behind the institute’s creation, he said.

He also pointed out the need for “inculturated Hispanic catechesis.”

“It is important for us to recognize that as the growing number of Hispanic Catholics in our dioceses continues to increase, there is a profound need for us to have an inculturated catechesis that could not be addressed by our current review process,” he said. 

Bishop Caggiano addressed the U.S. bishops at their virtual general assembly held this week. The bishops debated and voted on several action items at their meeting, including the launch of a three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative, pastoral statements and frameworks on marriage, youth and young adult ministry, and on Native American ministry, a teaching document on the Eucharist, and approval of causes of canonization.

In his address on Friday, Caggiano explained the conference’s responsibility to start a national catechetical office to review the state of catechesis in the United States. The conference was charged with attending to the relationship between editors, authors and bishops to ensure faithfulness and authenticity of catechetical programs, he said. . 

Bishop Caggiano said the institute would seek to accompany publishers in the development of materials faithful to the Catechism. He also proposed a definition of “evangelizing catechesis.”

“Evangelizing catechesis” seeks to “deepen a personal encounter with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

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Caggiano said that “evangelizing catechesis” would involve proclaiming the Gospel, accompanying people in conversion to Christ, and sending out missionary disciples who promote a vision of life, humanity, justice, and human fraternity. 

Diocesan and Catholic publishing house staff will be invited to “annual formational experiences” of the institute, he said. Caggiano envisioned an environment that is “prayerful, studious and communal to both inform and form” those attending.

The virtual launch of the initiative is scheduled for December 2021. Caggiano said his plan was to establish the first in-person gathering - for every bishop and his diocesan staff - in Baltimore in November 2022. 

The institute will serve its “key stakeholders” of bishops on the education, doctrine, and family life committees, as well as the bishops of the 21 dioceses with catechetical publishing houses, he said.