Youth catechism's Italian version pulled over contraception error


The publisher of the Italian-language edition of a youth catechism has pulled it from production because of a translation error implying the Catholic Church’s approval of contraception.

The book “YouCat” was presented officially at a Vatican press conference on April 13. Nuova Citta, the catechism’s Italian publisher, has pulled the Italian copies to fix the error, the Associated Press reports.

The catechism, which teaches readers in a question-and-answer format, addresses fertility regulation in Question 420.

The Italian-language edition asked “Can a Christian couple have recourse to contraceptive methods?” It answered “Yes, a Christian couple can and should be responsible in its faculty of being able to give life.”

Father Joseph Fessio, SJ,  the head of Ignatius Press, which is publishing “YouCat” in English, said that the Italian version incorrectly translates the German word “empfängnisregelung.” While the word literally means “birth regulation” and can signify natural family planning, it is also sometimes used to refer to “birth control” through contraceptive means.

The Italian version of the youth catechism wrongly rendered the German word as “metodi anticoncezionali,” meaning “contraceptive methods.”

The Catholic Church has always opposed the use of contraception. In the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, its use is described as “intrinsically evil.”

“The problem did not originate with the German text,” Ignatius Press President Mark Brumley said in a statement on the publisher’s website, “at least not if the Italian translation is based on the same German text as that on which Ignatius Press based its translation.”

The English and German versions of the youth catechism did not contain the error made in the Italian translation.

Fr. Fessio told the AP the translation error was “an embarrassment” but not a change in Church teaching.

He said Nuova Citta had printed 45,000 Italian copies, 15,000-16,000 of which were already sold.

Organizers of World Youth Day have already ordered 700,000 copies of “YouCat” in various languages to give to young pilgrims along with a sleeping bag, a map and other accessories.

The development of the 300-page youth catechism was overseen by Cardinal Archbishop Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, who edited the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church. The German text of “YouCat” received the approval of the Austrian bishops in March 2010.

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