GDC 243: “Various criteria which can inspire the use of human sciences in the formation of catechists”

243. These are:

a) Respect for the autonomy of the sciences: “the Church… affirms the legitimate autonomy of culture and especially of the sciences”. (Gaudium et Spes 59)

b) Evangelical discernment of the different tendencies or schools in psychology, sociology, and pedagogy: their values and their limitations.

c) The study of the human sciences—in the formation of catechists—is not an end in itself. Acquiring awareness of the existential, psychological, cultural and social situation of (people) is accomplished in the light of the faith in which (people) must be educated. (225)

d) In forming catechists, theology and the human sciences should mutually enrich each other. Consequetly it is necessary to avoid a situation in which these materials are converted into the only norm for the pedagogy of the faith apart from the theological criteria deriving from the divine pedagogy. While these are fundamental and necessary disciplines, they are always at the service of evangelization which is more than a human activity. (226)

(225) “In the teaching of human sciences, given their very great number and diversity there are difficult problems in regard to choosing from among them and in regard to the method of teaching them. Since the question here is one of training catechists, not experts in psychology, the norm to be followed is this: determine and choose that which can directly help them to acquire facility in communication.” General Catechetical Directory 112.

(226) A fundamental text for use of the human sciences in the formation of catechists continues to be that recommended by the Second Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes 62: “The faithful ought to work in close conjunction with their contemporaries and try to get to know that their ways of thinking and feeling, as they find them expressed in current culture. Let the faithful incorporate the findings of new sciences and teachings and the understanding of the most recent discoveries with Christian morality and thought so that their practice of religion and their moral behaviour may keep abreast of their acquaintance with science and of the relentless progress of technology: in this way they will succeed in evaluating and interpreting everything with an authentically Christian sense of values”.

This brief section offers four logical standards to apply. We accept the scientific disciplines we use–their veracity or accuracy within the bounds of human understanding. In doing so, these disicplines are applied to a discernment in light of their use as tools of catechesis. In other words, we do not conduct schools of psychology or other sciences as such. We utilize science to make catechists optimal communicators, as the note #225 referencing the GCD suggests. And finally, though we may use human science to communicate more effectively with human persons, we never lose sight of the reality that catechesis is authentically a participation in the grace of God, enlightening other souls in search of understanding that same God.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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