GDC 193-194: “Catechesis in complex and pluralistic situations”

GDC 193-201 are congruent to Part Four, Chapter IV, Catechesis in the socio-religious context. Simply put, how do we do catechesis in context of other people? People of other faiths, people of no faith, and others in human society we must somehow interact with? As one might expect, evangelization is a prime consideration, both for outreach and for the maintenance and strengthening of Christian belief. The first two sections address “Catechesis in complex and pluralistic situations.” Pluralism is not a new concern; the note attached to this subtitle references Paul VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (sections 51-56) as well as the 1977 Synod of Bishops document, Message to the People of God (section 15)

193. Many communities and individuals are called to live in a pluralistic and secularized world,(Cf. General Introduction) in which forms of unbelief and religious indifference may be encountered together with vibrant expressions of religious and cultural pluralism. In many individuals the search for certainty and for values appears strong. Spurious forms of religion, however, are also evident as well as dubious adherence to the faith. In the face of such diversity, some Christians are confused or lost. They become incapable of knowing how to confront situations or to judge the messages which they receive. They may abandon regular practice of the faith and end by living as though there were no God—often resorting to surrogate or pseudo-religions. Their faith is exposed to trials. When threatened it risks being extinguished altogether, unless it is constantly nourished and sustained.

194. In these circumstances, a catechesis of evangelization becomes indispensable: a catechesis “which must be impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel and imparted in language adapted to the times and to the hearers”.(Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 54) Such catechesis seeks to educate Christians in a sense of their identity as baptized, as believers, as members of the Church, who are open to dialogue with the world. It reminds them of the fundamental elements of the faith. It stimulates a real process of conversion. For them, it deepens the truth and the value of the Christian message in the face of theoretical and practical objections. It helps them to discern the Gospel and to live it out in every-day life. It enables them to give the reasons for the hope that is theirs.(Cf. 1 Pet 3:15) It encourages them to exercise their missionary vocation by witness, dialogue and proclamation.

Perhaps one of the more insightful and useful sections we have read. I think the diagnosis is as accurate today as it was forty or even a hundred years ago or more. I’m a skeptic that the modern age is particularly more beset by the challenges of pluralism, at least in the sense of the personal obstacles we believers face. The effectiveness of various media–no doubt this is fine-tuned for the propaganda of commerce and ideology. All the more important for believers to “discern the Gospel” and “live it out.”

The Catholic program, then, is one of building confidence in believers through conversion and a “reminder” of the basics of the faith. Then it sends them out to give example, to speak with others, and to proclaim the Gospel. Circling the wagons and protecting the innocent does not seem to be part of the program.



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to GDC 193-194: “Catechesis in complex and pluralistic situations”

  1. I think this applies to pretty much every Catholic living in the United States. We’re all constantly beset by the pluralistic society everywhere we turn. And, I think the paragraph hits the nail on the head regarding the results. People lose the capability to judge situations correctly because they are indoctrinated in this secularistic mindset.

    I think it’s the case that all catechesis, especially for children though, should have an evangelistic flavor. It should be a “catechesis of evangelization…impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel.” That’s the only way to offset the other forces that constantly crowd out this pluralistic influence.

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