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EDUCATOR REVERES NEW CATECHISM AS INSPIRED

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As an educator and a woman, Pat Voorhes was hoping the new English version of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" would have fewer references to "brothers" and include the term "sisters" more frequently.

She's disappointed that gender-inclusive language - which she defines as avoiding masculine terms for people except when referring specifically to males - was not adopted, but she still maintains that the catechism is an inspired work."I have to rely on the belief that the translators honestly looked at the issue of inclusive language and made the best choice. I believe they relied on the Holy Spirit," said Voorhes, director of Religious Education at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Sandy.

The debate over gender-neutral language was a major reason behind the Vatican's yearlong delay in approving the English translation of the catechism, a text that defines Catholic beliefs and standards.

The revised version finally approved by Rome completely reversed the inclusive-language approach of the English draft submitted to Rome more than a year earlier.

Boston's Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who defended the inclusive-language draft in Rome, said he hoped the use of exclusive language in the final text would not blind people to the catechism's doctrinal teaching that men and women are equal. The chosen translation is not gender-neutral because it is more faithful to the French original translation, he explained.

The catechism text states, "Man and Woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator. Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity in the image of God . . . In no way is God in man's image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit."

Voorhes believes the new catechism is a blessing to the church and prays that it will be a source of unity.

"Reading the catechism is not going to be light, bedtime reading. It's very intense and scholarly. It'll probably mostly be used as a reference source for bishops and educators," said Voorhes.

When she sits down to write a religious lesson, Voorhes usually uses a stack of reference books. With the new, comprehensive catechism, she can significantly simplify her research process.

Catholics in Utah have anticipated the new catechism for more than a year. "Everybody I've talked with is very excited to get their hands on a copy. People are anxious to learn how to use it. We're having teaching sessions for all religious leaders in Utah to better understand the text."

Sharon Young, who operates the Catholic Center at 226 S. Main in Salt Lake City, reports sales have been phenomenal. Since the book arrived less than a week ago, the Catholic Center has sold 300 paperbacks and 50 hardbounds. An additional 200 books are on order. Paperbacks sell for $19.95 and hardbounds are $29.95.

The new catechism is available at various bookstores in Utah. The Catholic Center is a nonprofit business owned by the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

"We encourage every Catholic person to read the new catechism so they will fully understand their faith and how to live it," said Young.