GDC 279-280: “Some responsibilities proper to the catechetical ministry”

Let’s examine “Some responsibilities proper to the catechetical ministry,” specifically, an “Analysis of the situation and its needs.” This analysis is directed for dioceses and other “big” organizations, but a parish should probably be attuned to this:

279. The particular Church, in organizing its catechetical activity, must have as its point of departure an analysis of the situation. “The object of this investigation is multiple: included are examination of pastoral action and analysis of the religious situation as well as of the sociological, cultural, and economic conditions, to the extent that these facts of collective life can greatly influence the success of evangelization”. (General Catechetical Directory 100) This is nothing other than becoming aware of reality from the point of view of catechesis and its needs.

More concretely:

– there must be a clear awareness, in “examining pastoral action”, of the state of catechesis: how, in fact, it is situated in the process of evangelization; a distinct balance between the various catechetical sectors (children, adolescents, young people, adults); the co-ordination of catechesis with Christian education in the family, in schools and elsewhere; its internal quality; the contents imparted and the methodology used; the characteristics of catechists and their formation;

– an “analysis of the religious situation” of the Diocese includes three closely related levels: the sense of the sacred, that is those human experiences, which, because of their depth, tend to open to mystery; the religious sense, the concrete ways in which a particular people conceives of and communicates with God; and the situation of the faith, in the light of the various types of believer; in connection with these levels, it also investigates the moral situation as lived, inquiring into its emerging values and evident ambiguities or counter values.

– “socio-cultural analysis”, about which much has already been said in relation to the human sciences in the formation of catechists, (Cf. Part Five, chap. 5) is also necessary because catechumens and those being catechized must be prepared to constitute a Christian presence in society.

280. The analysis of the situation, from these various perspectives, “should also convince those who work in the ministry of the word that, so far as pastoral action is concerned, human situations are ambivalent. Therefore, workers in the service of the Gospel should learn to note the many possibilities that are opening up for their action in new and diverse circumstances… For always possible is a process of change which can make clear the way to the Faith”. (General Catechetical Directory; cf. Introductory explanation, 16)

This analysis is a primary working instrument, of an informational nature, offered by the catechetical service to pastors and catechists.


Our current weakness is in missing the evangelical connection–how Catholics reach out to the unchurched. And sorting out the authentic catechetical needs: inspiring first faith and engaging catechesis when the new/renewed believer is ready.

Consider those “three closely related levels,” the human encounter with the sacred, the concrete experience of religion, and the various expressions of faith. Morality is then linked with these, but these three “levels” give a context, and a hope for both evangelization as well as deepening the faith life later on.

About catholicsensibility

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

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