A rare section without footnotes. We might deduce this piece is original material from the curia:
75. The life and faith of students who receive religious instruction in school are characterized by continuous change. Religious instruction should be cognizant of that fact if it is to accomplish its own ends. In the case of students who are believers, religious instruction assists them to understand better the Christian message, by relating it to the great existential concerns common to all religions and to every human being, to the various visions of life particularly evident in culture and to those major moral questions which confront humanity today.
This is good. It places knowledge of other faiths in context of the basic human longing for meaning. It casts morality not only as a matter of personal conduct, but as part of a very large dialogue on the world stage.
Those students who are searching, or who have religious doubts, can also find in religious instruction the possibility of discovering what exactly faith in Jesus Christ is, what response the Church makes to their questions, and gives them the opportunity to examine their own choice more deeply.
Also good. This presumes that the Church is open to the questions of seekers and doubters, that it hears those queries accurately, and is able to present a coherent response of such a quality that it invites “deeper” reflection in search of answers. We’re probably going to need something more substantive than Latin grammar inserted into English or demands to drop hands.
In the case of students who are non-believers, religious instruction assumes the character of a missionary proclamation of the Gospel and is ordered to a decision of faith, which catechesis, in its turn, will nurture and mature.
What might this mean? We’ve already covered the evangelical ministry of the Word in the GDC. Lots of folks attend Catholic schools, from non-Christians to confirmed Catholics who have drifted. We know that the lived example of believers is key to evangelization. We also know that adolescents have a keen nose for hypocrisy and on the whole, the truth. Are people on the front lines at Catholic high schools prepared for the quality of life needed to witness to the Gospel? Or have we conceded to rationalism, crossing our fingers that religious instruction is enough? What do you think?