GDC 265-267: “The diocesan service of catechesis”

We head into Part Five, Chapter IV, “The organization of catechetical pastoral care in the particular Churches,” and we’ll start with a look at dioceses. Over the next several posts (through GDC 285) we’ll cover the last frontier of this document, looking at dioceses, mutual cooperation between them, the role of national conferences, what Rome should do, and the various layers of consultation and collaboration for effective catechesis in today’s world.

This material today is heavily dependent on the 1972 General Catechetical Directory–not anything novel for 1997. The bishop bears a particular responsibility for catechesis; we all know this:

265. The organization of catechetical pastoral care has as its reference point the Bishop and the Diocese. The diocesan catechetical office (Officium Catechisticum) is “the means which the Bishop as head of the community and teacher of doctrine utilizes to direct and moderate all the catechetical activities of the diocese”. (General Catechetical Directory 126. The diocesan office (officium catechisticum) was instituted in every diocese by the decree Provido Sane (1935): cf. AAS 27 (1935), p. 151; see also canon law 775 § 1)

A catechetical office, which should exist in every diocese, has seven areas of competence: analysis, action plan, catechist formation, consultation with parishes, oversight of special institutions, upgrade of personnel and resources, collaboration with liturgy.

266. The principal competencies of the diocesan office are the following:

a) to analyse the state of the diocese (Cf. General Catechetical Directory The general lines are suggested in the Introduction and also in this chapter under the heading: Analysis of the situation and of needs.) with regard to education in the faith: such analysis must identify, amongst other things, the real needs of the diocese as far as catechetical praxis is concerned;

b) to develop a plan of action (Cf. General Catechetical Directory See also in this chapter: “Programmes of catechetical actions and orientation”.) which sets out clear objectives, proposes definite suggestions and shows concrete results;

c) to promote the formation of catechist: in this respect suitable centres shall be set up; (Cf. General Catechetical Directory See also Part V, chapter II)

d) to elaborate, or at least to indicate to parishes and to catechists, the necessary instruments for catechesis: catechisms, directories, programmes for different ages, guides for catechists, material for those being catechized, audio-visual aids etc.; (Cf. General Catechetical Directory 116-124)

e) to foster diocesan institutions of a specifically catechetical character (catechumenate, parochial catechesis, groups responsible for catechesis): these are the “basic cells” (Cf. General Catechetical Directory 126) of catechetical activity;

f) to improve personnel and material resources at diocesan level as well as at the level of the parish and the vicariates forane; (Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 63. Pope John Paul II recommends that catechesis be given “pertinent and effective organization, putting in to operation the necessary personnel, means and equipment, and also financial resources.”)

g) to collaborate with the Liturgical Office given the relevance of Liturgy for catechesis, especially for catechumenal and initiatory catechesis.

267. To accomplish these responsibilities, the diocesan catechetical office should “have a staff of persons who have special competence. The extent and the diversity of the problems which must be handled demand that the responsibilities be divided among a number of truly skilled people”. (General Catechetical Directory 126) Ordinarily, this diocesan service should be performed by priests, religious and laity. Catechesis is so basic to the life of every particular Church, that “no diocese can be without its own catechetical office”. (General Catechetical Directory 126)

The Church is reminded here of the importance of collaboration across the lines of clergy and laity, and the strong suggestion that people with various skills and expertise will populate a diocesan office. Note our last pope’s emphasis on financial resources.

Any thoughts on this? Any diocesan folks reading, and wishing to weigh in?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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