Catholic Pulse, a great news aggregation site by the Knights of Columbus, links to an article in the National Catholic Register from Rome correspondent Edward Pentin on the largely unmarked twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The thrust of most of the interviewees is how it brought a needed stabilization and certainty to Church teaching. When I first arrived in Cincinnati nearly a dozen years ago, the catechetical class here was still trying to undermine or co-opt the CCC, accomplishing the latter with a notorious video series from XU Theology Department’s dissentient duo Hill & Madges that read fictitious doctrines into it. Those days are long gone, and no one would dare openly mess with the Catechism these days. Pentin includes interesting remarks from Cardinal Arinze, who would like to see a Q&A children’s version, and Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, who refers to a bygone era of “burlap and butterfly catechesis.” Here’s a snippet:
Among lay catechists, the Catechism and its shorter version, the Compendium of the Catholic Church, is often heavily relied upon to effectively transmit the faith. “In this secular, materialist society filled with moral relativism, the CCC gives us a sure foundation upon which to build our parishes with the teachings of truth,” said Anna Maria Constant, director of religious education at Most Holy Trinity Church in New Orleans.
“It has been a vital instrument for evangelization, with its teachings on formation of conscience, respect for human life and the dignity of persons,” she added. “At the parish level as well as diocesan level, we need sure norms for handing on the faith.”
And yet, few dispute that the faithful have been poorly catechized over the past 40 or 50 years.
“There has been such a grave loss of integrity in catechesis over the past 40 years — we have lost generations,” Constant said. “Many of the catechetical textbooks are full of ‘warm fuzzies’ — ‘What do you think?’ and ‘How do you feel about it?’ — instead of stating clearly the beauties of what the Catholic Church actually teaches.”
“Catechesis prior to the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church seemed to focus on the discovering of self and feeling good about oneself as a Christian (some would refer to this as ‘burlap and butterfly catechesis’) rather than emphasizing learning divine Revelation and centering the heart of our catechesis on Christ and his Church,” said Bishop Nickless. “After the Catechism’s publication, I have seen catechesis stress placing the person being catechized in communion with Jesus Christ and his Church, and through this relationship, that particular person comes to an understanding of himself or herself as a human person created by God and how God wants us to live.”