Monday, January 05, 2009

Teaching the Yout' About Catholicism

This item came up a couple of days ago.


If the church wants to reach young people today, it must avoid the temptation to "fudge" on core Catholic beliefs in an effort to make them more agreeable to contemporary tastes, a Vatican official said.


Instead, it should confront with courage the major barriers in modern evangelization, including cultural resistance to the proclamation of Christ as the unique savior, said Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia, undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


"No one in his or her right mind will be interested in a faith about which its exponents seem too embarrassed to communicate forthrightly," Father DiNoia said.


"We have to be convinced that the fullness of the truth and beauty of the message about Jesus Christ is powerfully attractive when it is communicated without apologies or compromise," he said.


So happens that a close friend of mine has quite a bit of experience in Catholic yout' education, and it is her opinion that the Diocese of Green Bay's program is far superior to anything offered in Milwaukee.


From observation, that friend tells me that Milwaukee programs tend to avoid actual catechetics in favor of interpretives and 'feely' stuff--which is the same observation, more or less, that Terry Berres has made from his trench in Milwaukee, too.


Perhaps Bp. Callahan will see the need and remedy this...

20 comments:

Scott said...

You may be surprised to learn that I agree completely. I'm never happy with people who subscribe to, or try to sell to others, a watered-down, feel-good version of their traditional faith. My interest in this is that I would like to see these faiths abandoned, and I believe only an honest look at what they are can facilitate that.

Amy said...

My interest in this is that I would like to see these faiths abandoned, and I believe only an honest look at what they are can facilitate that.


Statistics, and history, prove otherwise. Watered-down, liberalized versions of Catholicism turn people away.

Orthodox, true teaching and understanding of the faith draws people in. There are religious orders in parts of this country - faithful and orthodox - with so many vocations housing is a problem.

Kind of flies in the face of your reasoning, doesn't it?

And what, pray tell, ARE these religions and teachings that you think truth will destroy?

Dad29 said...

Scott, I'm not surprised by your assertion (which I think Amy read backwards...)

I think you're an honest lefty!

Amy said...

I guess I interpret it as Scott wanting the truth of orthodox teaching to turn people off.

Was that wrong?

Dad29 said...

Hmmmmnnnnn.....I read it that Scott wanted 'water-down faiths' to disappear.

Looks like your take is better, based on the (somewhat unclear) syntax.

Amy said...

He did. But the last sentence is what caught my attention:

My interest in this is that I would like to see these faiths abandoned, and I believe only an honest look at what they are can facilitate that.


I'm still waiting for his (distorted) reasoning as to why the Truth, when competently and honestly explained, would be a turn-off enough to for people to abandon religion completely.

Scott said...

Perhaps I am wrong about it. But it seems to me that if one seriously intends to follow any of the traditional religious belief systems--Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc--you'd be living and thinking in a way that was largely at odds with many of the tenets of modern, enlightened society. Thus, when you offer "watered down" stuff that glosses over those conflicts it allows people to (falsely) reconcile their religion with their everyday lives. If on the other hand you're up front about what your faith dictates regarding homosexuality, contraception, abortion, other faiths, etc., then people have to make a real choice about what they believe. This is a conflict I believe religion will by and large lose. And I would be fine with that result.

Incidentally, be careful: calling me an "honest liberal" sort of implies that most liberals believe as I do but just don't admit it. This is wrong. The vast majority of American political liberals believe in god. I don't.

Dad29 said...

you'd be living and thinking in a way that was largely at odds with many of the tenets of modern, enlightened society

1) The question, of course, is whether those "tenets" are true or NOT true. Catholics believe that they have the truth, period. It's up to 'modern society' to disprove those truths, and that's not been done. (And I'm not referring to which way the planets circulate.)

2) Amy was right, I was wrong...

3) The fact that you're atheist doesn't necessarily detract from your honesty--and I have some regard for 'theistic' Lefties, too. At least, for a few of them.

Scott said...

Ah, well, the issue of which view is "true" or not is a whole other thing. That's an arena where I think traditional religions are, how shall I put this delicately, behind the eight ball. Any belief systems which start out postulating a bunch of supernatural, unprovable assertions has no firm ground to stand on when telling other people what is true and what isn't.

But that's not even what I'm getting at. What I'm saying is that adhering strictly to the traditional tenets of your religion will ultimately hasten it's demise in the modern world. That's my opinion. I may have it wrong, but I think selling a watered down, believe whatever you want religion only allows modern people to avoid having to reconcile their beliefs about everyday life with the conflicting tenets of their religion.

John Foust said...

Some suggest that an evolutionary advantage of religion came from proving your dedication to the group because you could profess the otherwise incredible.

This may also depend on your notion of "true". Some say leave provisionally "true" for fact-based science, and declare "religion" to be all that can't be tested by the same means as science. Is it the same "true" that the Earth moves around the Sun as the "true" that Jesus is the Son of God?

But I agree that the Latin and the incense is far cooler than the guitars and pop songs and the clapping.

Dad29 said...

I think selling a watered down, believe whatever you want religion only allows modern people to avoid having to reconcile their beliefs about everyday life with the conflicting tenets of their religion.

True.

The rest of your comment is false.

Amy said...

What I'm saying is that adhering strictly to the traditional tenets of your religion will ultimately hasten it's demise in the modern world.

No, it won't. As I said above - orthodox parishes and orders are thriving. You are correct, however, that watered-down theology drives people away.

The problem with your premise is that you believe everything in the modern world is good and, therefore, appealing and desirable. Traditional religious teaching says otherwise and there is nothing in Catholicism that doesn't comport with modern culture.

Scott said...

you believe everything in the modern world is good and, therefore, appealing and desirable.

Where are you getting this from?

there is nothing in Catholicism that doesn't comport with modern culture.

How do you figure? Let's take contraception, for example. I believe any poll would show you that most people believe it to be a Good Thing (even many Catholics). The church itself, however, says "otherwise."

Amy said...

Where are you getting this from?


From your insistence that there's "incompatibility" with religious teaching and the modern world.

Let's take contraception, for example. I believe any poll would show you that most people believe it to be a Good Thing (even many Catholics).

And I believe the Church is the purveyor of the Truth, through the Word of God and Christ. Not popular opinion. If polls showed most people believed something like murder was okay, the Church would still oppose it - or would they still be in the way of "modern" culture?

It says about contraception what should be common sense: fertility is not a disease. And that sexuality is so sacred that it should be reserved for a life-giving marriage where both partners are giving of themselves fully...including fertility.

Yet modern culture treats fertility just as a disease, to the detriment of women's health (see: breast cancer and abortion), the environment (the pill causes significant pollution in waterways and animal life), and the family. It's no coincidence that Humanae Vitae accurately predicted contraception would cause a decline in moral standards, a rise in the abuse and mistreatment of women, a rise in divorce, and other grave evils.

Couples who contracept are far more likely to divorce than couples who follow NFP...50% versus less than 3%.

So you can argue contraception is a "good thing", but all the evidence in the world says the Catholic Church is right.

Scott said...

Subtle but important point: I'm saying there's an incompatibility between many traditional religious tenets and people's beliefs about how one should live in the modern world. I think my example of contraception is an apt one. People believe that using it is okay, that it's a net benefit for society. Many feel that more people should use it and more often. Yet the Catholic church still says it should not be used by anyone for any reason. See the disconnect? Soft-pedaling the churches view on contraception might allow a modern person to still subscribe, still be "a Catholic." But a serious you-have-to-make-a-choice confrontation between these two would mean that the church would hasten it's irrelevancy over time.

As far as you assessment of "all the evidence" with regard to contraception, I can only say that I find your argument remarkably unconvincing.

Dad29 said...

You're right on that, Scott.

But you also make the assumption that "relevancy" is important.

It's not.

What IS important is what is True (and Good, and Beautiful.) The Church's mission is to present the truth, or to propose it.

Now, since truth is always 'relevant,' you could say that I am contradicting myself.

Not really. I start from truth, not "relevancy."

Scott said...

Point one: there is a disconnect between traditional church teaching and what most modern people believe. Confronting people directly with this contradiction will, over time, make the church and it's teachings less appealing to many people. Note that I'm not venturing an opinion on which side is right on the issue.

Separate point: the church is wrong on the issue. Heh. But whether it is or it isn't, the above point still stands.

Dad29 said...

Well, that's YOUR humble opinion(s.)

Scott said...

Well obviously we'll disagree on the second point.

But the first point, too? Do you think strictly observing even the less palatable tenets of the faith will actually increase the number of believers? Over time, I rather doubt it. Of course, your position might be "so what?" You might say the church should stick to it even if it does bode poorly for membership. That I could understand.

Dad29 said...

Insisting on what is true may, indeed, increase the number of adherents--it has happened in other denom's (look at the doctrinaire nondenom-Christian churches' growth.)

And if it doesn't, "So what?" is not the correct response--but it is inevitable that there will be losses.

The mandate is to teach what is true, not gain market share.