Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Catechism Lite

There is a discussion happening on the fiscal policies of the Diocese of Richmond since a priest embezzled a large amount of cash from the two clustered parishes to which he was assigned. The fact that he may be secretly married and was living with a woman only makes the scandal that much worse.
How does that relate to the title of this post. Well on at least one blog someone dragged out an old post from Richmond Catholic on Pathways (the diocesan certification program.) The post itself concerned Pathways and homeschooling. The comments talked about the value of Pathways as a certification program.
Now I've done the phase I Pathways. It is more concerned with teaching things like classroom discipline and management than in setting an orthodox basis for teaching catechism.
This might almost be expected. This course is not really aimed, long term, at the youth minister or catechetical leader. There is a more advanced course for them, plus they should already be qualified for that position, based on their existing education when hired for the position, assuming such a position is indeed a job as well as a ministry.
The most disturbing aspect of the course was the statement that a catechist should always espouse the teachings of the Church, whether they agree with them or not. The part which disturbs me is not the statement, which is absolutely true, but the supposition that a large number of volunteer catechists will not agree with the fundamental teachings of the Church. Such a large number that the statement must be included in this course.
I'm afraid that this is a symptom of the generally poor state of catechesis in the Church in general. Not that there are not issues which good Catholics can't disagree on. Unfortunately the Church in general and teachers in particular have not been scrupulously orthodox in their teachings. This has resulted in a too large number of Catholic adults who have so poor Christian formation that they do not seem to realize that there are subject about which faithful Catholics can disagree and subjects about which one cannot disagree with the Church and remain in communion with it and how to tell the difference.
This is not helped by those on the conservative side who seem to have the same problem discerning what is mere trapping and what is core doctrine. But at least their failings do not, as a rule, result at leading the innocent to damnation.
In most cases one does not even need to go to the source documents for clarification. The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides plenty of clarity, complete with references. Should one feel the need the most of the source documents are now readily available via the Internet.
How does one find the time? Choose between an hour of television and an hour of studying the CCC.
Once at a youth ministry volunteer meeting one of the adult core members expressed the fear that if we asked too much of our volunteers they would quit volunteering. Someone else made the statement "This is a ministry. That is how its workers should see it." Our deacon agreed pointing out that the worker who protested herself spend hours a week supporting the program.
To help support this effort I have found in my own parish that if adult classes are given they will be full of people and often those same people are those who support the elementary, youth and adult catectical programs. This is how you avoid Catechism Lite.


Claire said...

Hi, I'm morostheos from the other blog's comments. Sorry if I misunderstood what you meant, it seemed like talking about the long requirements and such that you were saying it was too much work. I was also responding to Jennifer who said is was just more hoops to go through.

The lack of catechetical substance and focus on classroom management that you described for the Pathways program is only true for the first level - Parish. Catechists are also asked to complete the Senior level of certification as well - which includes much more substance. It's resources include the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Code of Canon Law, and documents of Vatican II. Here's a link to the curriculum summary if you're interested: http://www.richmonddiocese.org/ocf/pathways/Core_Curric.pdf

Remember, this is what is asked of all catechists, not only youth ministers or other paid staff.

Claire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TerryC said...

I'll be doing the senior phase next. I was not just commenting on the depth of the catechetical substance of the program but on the videos. Maybe my impression is skewed by my own feelings but the examples didn't really seem to reflect a solid Catholic core, more a liberal bent. Too much self-esteem, not enough responsibility and tough choices.
As I said perhaps just my impression.