Barbara Nicolosi has a impassioned and disturbing piece about the failure of parish-based catechesis on the Patheos.com website. It begins with an anecdote from a meeting at her parish in which she was the only person in attendance who could name the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the wonder and bemusement expressed by her pastor that she can do so. (‘Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations! Shame on him.) In promulgating the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict asked that it be, essentially, a Year with the Catechism. Outside of a few apostolates and programs here and there, I know of no sustained effort along these lines. (Linking to websites or handing out free Michael Kelly books doesn’t count.) Here is Barbara in all her proper indignation:

It’s long past time for the Catholic Church in the United States to acknowledge and address the fact that in many, possibly most, dioceses, parish-based catechesis has been an abject failure. In the vaunted Year of Faith, it should sting all of our leaders and pastors that few of the ever-dwindling percentage of Catholics in the pews on a Sunday morning could pass a basic catechetical quiz. How many Gen X Catholics could name one of the precepts of the Church or recall any one set of the Mysteries of the Rosary? How many of our teenagers could list all Ten Commandments? How many First Communicants could recite the Acts of Faith or Hope, or name the Seven Sacraments? The terrible, tragic, and fundamental truth for 21st-century Catholicism is, not many!

Which settles it for me; the Leonardi Clan will have a Summer of Faith in which we study and commit to memory the “Formulas of Catholic Doctrine” assembled by Pope Benedict, writing as Cardinal Ratzinger, for the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Who’s going to join us?

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