GDC 189: “Catechesis for the disabled and the handicapped”

After treating catechesis for different ages in Chapter II of Part Four, we will focus the next four posts on the four sections of a very brief Chapter III, Catechesis for special situations, mentalities and environments.

Regarding “the disabled and the handicapped,” the footnote refers to previous coverage in the GEneral Catechetical Directory, number 91, and Catechesi Tradendae 41. This section is key in the Church’s ministry to some people, which falls far short of the ideal set forth in this section. All too often, clergy and catechetical leaders are ill-prepared and blunder badly in withholding service to “the weakest of (God’s) children.”

189. Every Christian community considers those who suffer handicaps, physical or mental, as well as other forms of disability—especially children—as persons particularly beloved of the Lord. A growth in social and ecclesial consciousness, together with undeniable progress in specialized pedagogy, makes it possible for the family and other formative centres to provide adequate catechesis for these people, who, as baptized, have this right and, if non-baptized, because they are called to salvation. The love of the Father for the weakest of his children and the continuous presence of Jesus and His Spirit give assurance that every person, however limited, is capable of growth in holiness.

Education in the faith, which involves the family above all else, calls for personalized and adequate programmes. It should take into account the findings of pedagogical research. It is most effectively carried out in the context of the integral education of the person. On the other hand, the risk must be avoided of separating this specialized catechesis from the general pastoral care of the community. It is therefore necessary that the community be made aware of such catechesis and be involved in it. The particular demands of this catechesis require a special competence from catechists and render their service all the more deserving.

The Church’s teaching here seems crystal clear.

  • – God shows a “particular love” to some people. Believers and ministers are called to reflect this love.
  • – The goals here (for all believers, really) are salvation and the growth in holiness.
  • – Families are integral to the growth of holiness of their members.
  • – Special catechesis should be personalized, yet also part of a faith community, not separated out from it.
  • – Special competence is required of catechists.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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