WYD Pilgrims to Receive a Social Doctrine App from the Pope
Pope Francis has established a tech-savvy track record as Pope, and now in addition to breaking records on Instagram and becoming the first Pope to use Google Hangouts, he will give World Youth Day pilgrims a new electronic app.
From the creators of 2011's "YouCat" youth catechism, a new version of the book called the "DoCat" has been developed, which intends to present the Church's social teaching in a creative style more attractive and comprehensible to youth. The new book will be launched during World Youth Day in Krakow and given to young pilgrims by Pope Francis in the form of an app.
The YouCat was first distributed at World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011 as a way to help extend the experience and knowledge of the faith into young pilgrims' homes.
Why a new version of a book on social doctrine?
Christian Lermer, CEO of the YouCat Foundation, told CNA in an interview that they wanted to create something that would "make the teaching of the Church readable and attractive, without changing the content."
Bernhard Meuser, founder of the YouCat Foundation, said that following the YouCat's publication they received several emails from youth in the United States saying, "now we know what our faith is. What do we do? Please, do a Do-Cat!"
The idea of publishing a new book on how to practically put faith into action initially began with those emails, he said, explaining that the concept was also supported by Vatican officials.
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, had suggested that if the YouCat organization wanted to create a new book for Pope Francis, to do it on either the Bible or the Church's social doctrine, Meuser explained.
Pope Francis himself wrote the preface for the book, which will be launched in Krakow July 23, three days before the July 26-31 youth encounter.
Rather than having a typical news conference for the book's release, the YouCat Foundation set up an event with 200 youth from across the world who will study the DoCat and lead discussions on social teaching.
Bishops and speakers from around the world "will set them on fire for social teaching as the fruit of the Gospel." The event will be led by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, and will also include a preparation workshop, outreach, and information spots for catechesis.
According to Meuser, while Pope Francis' preface for the YouCat provided a strong message about work, his preface for the DoCat focuses on the Roman Pontiff's dream of "a new generation."
With many youth too lax when it comes to living the Church's social doctrine, Francis "dreamed of young people who know everything about justice and peace, the Gospel and the love of God, and mercy."
"We should be very deep-rooted experts (in social teaching)," Meuser said, explaining that the Pope will share this "strong message" with the youth through a special video on the DoCat book and app that will be played during World Youth Day.
Both Meuser and Lermer met with Pope Francis in the Vatican June 17, where they presented him with the DoCat and recorded the video that will be played during the WYD encounter.
Lermer said the process of creating the DoCat has been "a blessing" for the foundation, because they didn't know that the Pope wanted to write a preface or that he would be willing to record a video for it.
"There's a lot of things that could be very different," he said, "so we have to be thankful ... somehow it seems to be led from above."
World Youth Day participants will see the Pope's video and will receive pamphlets describing the app and encouraging them to download it.
According to Lermer, the app will have not only the content of the book, but also "some fancy motivation tools to study" it.
While as of now the printed copy of the book is only available in two languages, the app is available in several, including English, Croatian, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, Polish, Slovak, Czech, and German.
Meuser explained that one of their main desires from the beginning was the direct participation of youth in the project.
Divided into 12 chapters on everything from family and work life to protecting creation and promoting peace, the book was designed with the help of youth and contains direct content from projects and initiatives begun by youth themselves.
Meuser and Lermer specifically looked for content that was "scientific and social material" from youth, as well as youth doing photo projects about social content such as justice and peace.
Inside the book a main text is visible on the side with questions and answers, some of which are accompanied by "funny illustrations," Meuser said.
Supporting quotations from Blessed John Henry Newman, Benedict XVI, and the Bible are also included, he said, noting that after each chapter short quotations from social doctrine from Leo XIII to Pope Francis can be found.
The youth "gave us a lot of pictures and advice, so we produced the book in a process of participation with young people," Meuser said, noting that the idea is to engage young people with the world around them, guided by Catholic teaching.
Meuser said his hope for the DoCat is that it will be "a learning moment in social doctrine."
"We are living in the ruins of two great ideologies: of capitalism and of communism. Both destroyed the world," he said, explaining that now "we have to change the world."
Vatican City, Jul 9, 2016 / 05:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News)
Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.