GDC Coming Soon

My first plan had been to explore the 1971 General Catechetical Directory and proceed, if I had the energy, inclination, and any worthwhile commentary, to the 1997 update, the General Directory for Catechesis.

I’ll confess I’m not deeply familiar with either document–unlike the conciliar work of Vatican II and the post-conciliar liturgical corpus, these were beyond the scope of my studies in graduate school.

As I’ve reviewed each of these works, there are differences. I will comment that many readers would find the 1971 summary of the challenges we faced in catechesis (the broadest sense of that term) to be very timely in terms of the challenges we face today. Atheism, rationalism, a lack of Bible awareness, and cultural Catholicism were well-known in 1971. None were a product of Archbishop Jadot, Annibale Bugnini, EWTN, homeschooling parents, suburban sprawl, or sex-drugs-rock’n’roll.

If anything, I became convinced yet again that the immediate post-conciliar Church had a fair bead on the situation. What happened?

Did bishops just not bother to read the GCD? Did they fail to absorb it? I know that some of my colleagues in faith formation were familiar with the document. Did they fail to apply it fully to their ministries? Did they fail to convince their pastors? Did it become a bookshelf prop, set aside to allow publishers more free reign in developing materials and did parish ministers and school religion teachers just assume what they were being fed was sufficient?

I don’t have one cover-all answer to that. Given my own observation of the level of non-implementation of Fulfilled in Your Hearing (see sidebar under categories, USCCB documents), and the recent USCCB call for a similar document of the same size, I suspect that with few exceptions, bishops and clergy did not absorb the 1971 GCD. The document did originate from the Congregation for the Clergy, and was written for bishops, primarily. It’s pages aren’t as dog-eared as the GIRM, I’ll observe.

I seriously doubt any Catholic blogger has addressed the GCD or GDC in any depth. This site might well be the only place on the net where you can find our style of discussion.

Since liturgy is more in keeping with the focus of my web site, I think it better to just address the 1997 GDC alone rather than both documents. It would require a whole team of bloggers many years to offer all the relevant documentation on the vital areas of ecclesiology, liturgy, evangelization, faith formation, social justice, ecumenical and inter-faith relations, and so on. I have the interest, but also a long list of other Church documentation from Rome and my own bishops’ conference to tackle.

I know there are a few readers out there who lean to faith formation. If you would like to contribute here more substantially to any possible series, or resurrect the GCD and start there, take a few days to contact me. Otherwise, I plan to begin Catholic Sensibility’s examination of the 1997 GDC by Tuesday.

By then we’ll begin a regular examination of a document that might surprise you. It sure surprised me. We will explore a very wide palette of concerns: educational methods, content, and theory, as well as evangelization, worship, and apostolic action in the world.

By the end of it–if you’re still awake, and I’m still blogging–you’ll have a deeper appreciation that a number of people–not the celebrities–are cognizant of the challenges faced by the Church. I hope you’ll come to see they have substantial insight and resources to bring to the modern situation. We need better and more refined faith formation for Catholics, top to bottom. Let’s hope this series will be a fruitful beginning for us all and for the people we serve, teach, and influence.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in General Catechetical Directory, General Directory for Catechesis, post-conciliar catechetical documents. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to GDC Coming Soon

  1. Todd –
    Although personally, I have worked extensively with the GDC and the NDC, I think you are correct that the GCD wasn’t a generally read document, but in 1971, the CCD situation in most parishes was that most DRE’s of the time were religious sisters who were primarily trying to break free of the Baltimore Catechism. It all depends on how widely promoted the document was here, I think, as to how much it affected that picture.

    The National Catechetical Directory,”Sharing the Light of Faith” was actually widely read , though perhaps not until later.
    When I became a DRE in the late 1990’s, it was expected that one be familiar with the NCD, but not necessarily the Vatican document.

  2. Stijn says:

    Great initiative! I work as a catechete in Europe, and look forward to reading this text with you.

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