International Council for Catechesis (Coincat)

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The International Council for Catechesis (COINCAT) was established by Pope paul vi on June 7, 1973 as a consultative body within the Congregation for the Clergy. The general purpose of COINCAT as explained in the Annuario Pontificio is "to study the more important catechetical themes for the service of the Apostolic See and the episcopal conferences and to present proposals and suggestions." Specifically, it investigates concrete themes and important catechetical problems for the universal Church, suggesting solutions and proposals for pastoral action; it provides information on the necessity of catechesis and new approaches being taken in various parts of the world; and it facilitates the exchange of catechetical experiences between the Holy See and the diverse areas in the Church and among the members themselves.

Since its inception COINCAT has provided valuable service both to the Apostolic See and episcopal conferences, especially through its biannual plenary sessions. In the past it has studied such issues as catechesis as an ecclesial act (1976), the settings for catechesis (1977), catechesis and youth (1978), the formation of catechists for the 1980s (1979), catechesis and reconciliation (1983), adult catechesis in the Christian community (1988), catechesis for life in a pluralistic and secularized world (1990), and inculturation of faith and the language of catechesis (1992). The 1988 session resulted in the publication of Adult Catechesis in the Christian Community, a document that became a landmark within the body of the Holy See's catechetical works.

From the beginning COINCAT has been an international group. The first 24 permanent members appointed for five-year terms in 1976 included the patriarch of the Melkites and archbishops, bishops, priests, sisters, and lay people from Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and North, Central, and South America. Among the initial appointees were two from the United States, Bishop John B. McDowell of Pittsburgh and Sister Maria de la Cruz Aymes of San Francisco. McDowell was succeeded by Msgr. Wilfrid H. Paradis, then of the United States Catholic Conference Department of Education, who in turn was succeeded by Msgr. Francis Kelly of the National Catholic Education Association. Sister Maria de la Cruz was reappointed twice and for a time served as president of COINCAT. By 1992 the membership had grown to 30.

In 1994 the International Council was reorganized. The cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy became the president, and the secretary of the congregation served as vice-president. The number of permanent members, appointed to six-year terms, was set at ten. The new structure allows for the appointment of periti whose areas of expertise are suited to a particular project. These periti further enhance COINCAT's international character and competence. The newly constituted COINCAT met for the first time in Rome in September of 1994. The members and periti formulated general principles and drew up an outline for the revised edition of the General Directory for Catechesis published in 1997.

Bibliography: Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 2000 (Vatican City 2000). w. h. paradis, "Report on the Fifth Meeting of the International Catechetical Council, Rome, April 1117, 1983," The Living Light 20 (1984) 15970.

[j. pollard]

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International Council for Catechesis (Coincat)

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International Council for Catechesis (Coincat)