Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

What single book or magazine should people read to find out more about your faith?

I recommend the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on December 8, 1992. It is a compendium of Catholic doctrine that serves as the ideal reference text for those who want to learn about our faith. It is divided into four parts: the profession of faith, the celebration of the Christian mystery, life in Christ and Christian prayer. Part One introduces the reader to Gods revelation and is organized around the tenets of the Creed. Part Two explains how Gods plan for salvation is made present in the sacred actions of the liturgy, especially the sacraments. Part Three presents the Catholic tradition on law and grace and the principles of Christian morality as outlined in the commandments. Part Four deals with the meaning and importance of prayer, also explaining the petitions found in the Our Father. Another useful feature is found at the end of each thematic section where its main points are summarized.

The publication of the Catechism was the result of discussions at the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1985, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Pope John Paul II accepted the recommendation and in 1986 he appointed a commission of twelve cardinals to oversee this work. It was chaired by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

The Catechism is a clear, intelligent and coherent presentation of the Catholic faith for our current times. As outlined in its prologue, it "is useful reading for all the Christian faithful". As one member of the Cathedral community told me, the study of this magnificent text, "in addition to intensifying our understanding of the faith, deepens our relationship with God and with each other".