The Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz Prayer Club

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bp. Bruskewitz translates the Compendium

Bishop Bruskewitz Honored for Work on Compendium

LINCOLN (SNR) - On the wall outside the office of Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz is a framed portrait and letter from Pope Benedict XVI, in which the Holy Father confers his Apostolic Blessing and personal thanks to the bishop for his contributions to the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Compendium is an easy-to-read summary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Pope John Paul II commissioned in February 2003. Describing the “urgent need to have a brief Catechism for the faithful,” he asked Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, to serve as president of the commission that would create the Compendium.

Originally written in Italian, the Compendium was completed right at the time Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005. He presented the 200-page work to the Church in June 2005.

“It is not a new catechism, but a compendium which faithfully reflects the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” the Holy Father said as he introduced the volume during a prayer service in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall. Indeed, the Compendium follows the structure of the Catechism very closely.

Pope Benedict XVI also said that the work is “destined for the whole church.” With that goal in mind, he had already asked several bishops to provide translations of the Compendium into other languages some time earlier.

Then-Archbishop William J. Levada of San Francisco and Bishop Bruskewitz had been asked to collaborate on a translation for all English-speaking countries of the world.

Archbishop Levada had completed roughly a fourth of the translation work before he was named Prefect of the Doctrine of Faith in May 2005. Bishop Bruskewitz was thereafter responsible for the bulk of the work.

“With the permission of the Holy See,” the bishop said, “I was able to use several religious sisters and priests to polish and edit the work I did.”

The task involved taking the Italian text and translating it into conversational English, staying within the original conversational question-and-answer format. For that aspect of the work, the bishop’s 18 years of living in Italy was useful.

It took several months to complete the translation. “What was somewhat challenging,” Bishop Bruskewitz explained, “was the direction of the Holy See that the vocabulary be as close to Catechism as possible.”

After a round of editing and polishing with his team, Bishop Bruskewitz sent the translation to the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. Another round of refinements were made by the Holy See before the English version was made available for publication by bishops’ conferences.

It was published in both hardcover and paperback by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and made available for sale last March. Since then, the Compendium has been selling briskly. The first paperback edition was all but sold out just days after its release, according to the USCCB’s Office of Media Relations. Additional editions have kept stores supplied with copies.

Bishop Bruskewitz anticipated that the Compendium will “stimulate interest in picking up the entire Catechism. It’s very user-friendly, more convenient to use and covers all the bases quite adequately.”

Acknowledging that the Catechism is “a formidable document,” the bishop stressed that catechists and others who will use the Compendium will also want to use the Catechism as they instruct others about the Catholic faith.

“The Compendium summarizes the Catechism and basic points, but does not have the completeness or thoroughness of the Catechism,” he stated.

He sees various potential uses for the Compendium, such as serving as a helpful reference for parents as they instruct their children or any Catholic who is fielding questions about the faith in casual conversations with friends or family.

“I’d recommend it to all Catholics and certainly everyone involved in catechesis,” the bishop said.

The Compendium also includes 15 reproductions of religious art that help illustrate its doctrinal content. “Works of art always ‘speak,’ at least implicitly, of the divine, of the infinity beauty of God,” Pope Benedict XVI wrote.

One appendix addresses traditional catechetical formulas, such as the three theological virtues or the seven deadly sins. The other includes the texts of traditional prayers in both English and Latin.

Upon the Compendium’s presentation last June, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged all Catholics to learn these prayers in Latin, because it would “help Christian faithful of different languages pray together, especially when they gather for special circumstances.”

Bishop Bruskewitz welcomed the invitation. “It’s part of our heritage,” he said. “We live in a global village, and as a result, we find ourselves more frequently than we expect in international gatherings. So a common language of prayer is helpful to us.”

The Compendium is available for purchase at many Catholic retailers, non-Catholic bookstores and on-line booksellers. The French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish translations are now available at the Vatican web site ( Bishop Bruskewitz assumes that the English version will also be found there at some point.