Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Pastoral Approach to Dissent

Sighs are one of my characteristic signs: opportunities missed, misunderstandings, difficulties unresolved. The memory of my three-year experience with RCIA process still brings me to sighs from time to time. The earnest, decent members of the team were scandalized by my repeated requests for a more complete exposition of the Catholic Faith, in particular both the sex and gender issues that are so controversial and of the Church's own self-understanding as to her role and authority as the Teacher anointed by Christ Himself.

Some of the issues that many Candidates and Catechumens, as well as the Team Members themselves, did not want to discuss: abortion, contraception, homosexuality, authority, infallibility, catechism, dissent and obedience. One rationale offered, when push came to shove, was that many, if not most, "Catholics"disagreed with the Church on these issues. My only retort was: Is there anything in any Church Document to indicate that one or more of these teachings is optional? The other argument was 'We are not catechists'. I would then point out that the Archdiocese encouraged to us to take their course, upon completion of which we received an "RCIA Catechist" certificate. Our discussions didn't progress much beyond this.

So this document (I've added an updated version) is a lovely example of a rational and pastoral approach to the see-no-evil, teach-the-minimum approach to faith formation.

Thanks to Catholic Culture for the link.


rosey said...

I came to by way of searchig for an antonym for "pastoral approach." In my experience it seems that a "pastoral" approach is one way of avoiding the "orthodox" approach. What does it mean to you? The "document" link was a dead end. What document is being referred to? Thanks.

Dennis said...

The document appears to have been pulled by the Diocese of Madison. If you follow the Catholic Culture link it will give a summary of a controversy earlier in the Year. I vaguely remember reading the press release and being impressed with the balanced but firm tone of it.

I agree that "pastoral approach" is sometimes a cover for avoiding unpleasant truths. I think the opposite of it would be something like "doctrinally correct". that wouldn't necessarily be an all-good thing either. The generation raised on the Baltimore Catechism (which I liked, sort of) has drifted away from the Church and bolsters the ranks of the "I'm a Catholic but" school of thought.

Dennis said...

Ok, I tracked down an updated version of the press release and corrected the "document" link. I hope this helps.