Let’s get to the section, then I’ll add comments at the end:
39. It belongs to the conference of bishops to provide for the evangelization proper to this period. The conference may also provide, if circumstances suggest and in keeping with local custom, a preliminary manner of receiving those interested in the precatechumenate, that is, those inquirers who, even though they do not fully believe, show some leaning toward the Christian faith (and who may be called “sympathizers.”
1. Such a reception, if it takes place, will be carried out without any ritual celebration; it is the expression not yet of faith, but of a right intention.
2. The reception will be adapted to local conditions and to the pastoral situation. Some candidates may need to see evidence of the spirit of Christians that they are striving to understand and experience. For others, however, whose catechumenate will be delayed for one reason or another, some initial act of the candidates or the community that expresses their reception may be appropriate.
3. The reception will be held at a meeting or gathering of the local community, on an occasion that will permit friendly conversation. An inquirer or “sympathizer” is introduced by a friend and then welcomed and received by the priest or some other representative member of the community.
It would be the role of the USCCB to provide for evangelization of American inquirers. I’m not aware of any official document for this. The national statutes in the US reinforce the notion that if inquirers are welcomed, this is a social event, not a liturgical one. This is a sound approach, saving the first ritual moment for the entry into the order of catechumens. But having a pastoral and respectful way of introducing newcomers to the parish at-large, even Catholics moving into the neighborhood, is just good common sense.
Any thoughts on this? How is handled in your parish?