Jason Hall…

…who I had the pleasure of dining with when I was in Cincinnati a while back, has a fine piece up about Catholic Social Teaching and our need to start paying real attention to all of it, and not just the bits that tell us what we already want to hear.

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  • Dan C

    I weary of hearing adults whine about “bad catechesis” as the cause of anything. In actuality, most systems engineers will inform us that education is the weakest way to implement change. Catechesis is a weak scapegoat to hang the blame for current problems.

    I blame “willfull ignorance.” For example, most of the bloggers and readers of Catholic literature will know those things they avoid. Disciples of Sirico know for a fact they believe a Gospel that deletes the Lucan Sermon on the Mount. Or they cherry pick to their favorite libertarian priest who will provide the idiosyncratic view of markets and justice.

    Willful ignorance is a great term with a strong Catholic provenance. “Bad catechesis” is something people of a certain political persuasion use in the Church to denounce the Sisters of Mercy who taught them in the 1970’s.

    It’s a weak criticism and, for those who were all on the “accountability” wagon, it demonstrates that the thrust for “accountability” was really for some other demographic.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Dan, bad catechises is not a weak scapegoat, it is *a* reason. There are certainly those who wilfully ignore the social doctrine (see comboxes in just this blog), but there are just as certainly those who are ignorant through bad catechises (my brother’s CCD program was woefully deficient in very fundamental things, not to mention the social doctrine). There are also those who combine the worst of both worlds (this described myself some years back).

      Now, you mention bloggers and blog readers, and I will agree with you there that it becomes more wilful ignorance in the face of citations and quotations. Furthermore, the Catechism and the encyclicals are a Google search away. Merely scanning the Catechism’s TOC, the reader will note “The Social Doctrine of the Church”.

    • Stu

      I don’t think it weak. But I also don’t simply limit it to “bad CCD.”

      It’s a question of formation both for the young and continuing for the old. Much has been lost by the dismissal over the years of traditions. In doing so, people thought they were getting rid of acts that were simply relics of an older age without realizing that they were abandoning established methods of catechesis and formation. Sure, many may have forgotten why did such things, but instead of finding out and seeing the treasure we had, we simply threw it to the rubbish pile.

      Same thing with the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd. They have chosen to ignore everything that came before Vatican II. Would have been better to actually attempt to understand it and then embrace Vatican II.

  • In my line of work, you can imagine, I am privy to all kinds of personal information. I can tell you that most of what The Church teaches, ordinary people already know. “I know ‘The Church’ is against birth control, but I think ‘The Church’ is wrong on this issue.” I don’t know how many Catholics, patients and friends, that I have net subscribe to this view.

  • Dan C


    In a rare move, we agree. I maintain that there were limited periods of more Europe-wide decent “formation,” however. In short, I never think there were “good old days.”

    I grew up well-educated in Catholicism by my parents, and my Sister of Mercy aunt. CCD was a minor feature in my life. At a time in which we are insisting individual parents take more responsibility for their children and education as opposed to “babysitting by the state,” what we do not hear from the “reverts” (a name I hate too) is how their parents failed them. Sure, lots of blame on the Mercy nuns, or whatever clog-wearing nun one wants to bash, but not on “my parents, the leaders of the supposed ‘little church’ of my family failed my religious education miserably.”

    I agree, it is formation. It is also making this a constant discussion and learning process.

    I reject that, in a country in which I listen to barely-articulate high school drop outs call a Sports Talk radio station and discuss with great expertise baseball teams and baseball games from the 1950’s, but then claim they know nothing about their religion, that the problem is “catechesis.”

    I claim the problem is priority. What will I read, B16 on Jesus or a detailed statistical examination of the NY Yankees in the late 1950’s. so, often, it is the book on the Yankees.

    Priority is the problem. Not “bad preaching” or “bad catechesis.” And those priorities are established our homes as kids.

    • Stu

      There are never “good old days” but there are “good old practices” that have been adopted over the years because they work. We seemingly like to throw out “old things” without understanding why we did them.

      I would submit that we have to expand what we call “catechesis.” It’s not just book learning THOUGH that is an important part to include in my mind memorization from the Baltimore Catechism.

      • I agree, I see it in many teenagers where they know the “what” of their “faith” fairly well but not the “why”. Many of them end up at a Bible church because they never knew that they were supposed to have a relationship with Jesus (or that they had an extremely intimate relationship with Jesus every time they participated in Mass). They might be able to tell you what the Church teaches about Transubstantiation but they had no idea that it is Really Truly Jesus that they are consuming.