ROME, April 13, 2011 ( – At a Vatican press conference today, officials admitted that a book intended to teach young people the details of the Catholic faith, which will be handed out at upcoming World Youth Day in Spain, contains several errors, with particularly egregious mistakes on life and family issues.


Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, president of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference and a director of the project, told assembled journalists that the Italian edition of the book, “YouCat,” contains errors on the Church’s teachings on euthanasia, as well as contraception.

In answer to question 382, the Italian book says, “In so-called passive euthanasia someone helps another person in the dying process and thereby obeys the commandment ‘Love your neighbor.’”

However, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Council for the New Evangelisation, commented that the terms distinguishing “active” and “passive” euthanasia are “outdated” and that therefore the text is mistaken, as well as a bad translation.

Cardinal Schönborn also said that the French edition contains errors about Catholic teaching on the “value” of other religions according to the documents of the Second Vatican Council.

Schönborn said that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, will create a pool of theological experts to examine the text and will publish all the errors in a pamphlet that will contain corrections.

“We have coordinated with Cardinal Levada the formation of a working group in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that will study the comments and corrections of the translation and the original German. The new editions of the catechism will include these corrections,” he said.

Copies of the German, French and English versions of the book were not available to journalists at the press conference; only copies of the Italian edition were handed out. 700,000 copies of the book have been published so far, in 13 different languages. It was written by a committee of 50 unnamed “young people” and theologians.

The news comes on the heels of a revelation that the Italian language edition had given the answer “yes” to the question of whether couples can morally use contraception to “regulate” births. The Italian publisher Nuova Citta announced today that they would be recalling the book and correcting the error. Copies of the book handed out at the press conference today had the section blocked out, and a paper insert was given that said the Church promotes Natural Family Planning.

The English language version said that Catholic couples are entitled to plan the size of their families by “regulating conception” and that the Church “recommends” Natural Family Planning.

The YouCat project had been intended as a major tool in the Church’s approach to the secular world. It was touted on Vatican Radio this week as a “young and user-friendly” way for young people to learn how to answer common secular objections to unpopular Catholic teaching on topics such as contraception, abortion and euthanasia.

Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said that YouCat “translates the content of the [1992] ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ rigorously and faithfully, and using language adapted to the young … It aims to guide the young toward a deeper knowledge of their faith.”