Defending the Catholic Faith and Catholic Education
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Serious Problems with Catholic Education in Brisbane
In the gospels of Matthew (Ch. 7:24-29) and Luke (Ch. 6: 47-49) Our Blessed Lord speaks of two houses and their stability – the one build on rock and the other on sand. A study of the latest Religious Education Curriculum issued by BCE appears more like the latter house than the former.
(a) In teaching the story of creation and stating that “God saw it was good” it teaches the truth!
However, it fails to teach “The Fall” from which we learn so much doctrine and dogma of the church e.g. angels (good and fallen), sanctifying grace, original sin, the cause of suffering and evil, the promise of a Messiah (Incarnation and Redemption) and Our Blessed Lady (the woman).
It appears the curriculum pours the cement (sand) but fails to harden it by mixing it with the water (The Fall). (b) Christianity is a religion built on dogma i.e. fixed and certain truths revealed to us by God. We do not think these things to be true. We know they are. With dogma Christianity is a religion built on a rock. Without dogma it is a religion built on the shifting sand of public or private opinion.
The mysteries of The Trinity and the Divinity of Christ are the two most fundamental dogmas held by the church after belief in the existence of God. Neither are well taught in the curriculum where The Trinity is often taught as God, Jesus the Christ and Spirit.
Does this imply Jesus and Spirit are beings apart from God? It is only in Years 4 and 8 that Trinity is introduced as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and as a fundamental truth of Christianity.
In early grades Jesus is introduced as a Jew, truly human, having a ministry and mission. Year 6 introduces Him as Creator, Son of God and Son of Man but only in Year 9 is the Incarnation and His two natures (divine and human) fully taught.
(c) “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” When He spoke these words Our Blessed Lord made Peter the leader of the Apostles, Christ’s vicar on earth and the foundation stone of His Church (of which He Himself is the cornerstone). The Pope is the successor of St. Peter.
It is only in Year 10 that the Pope is introduced amongst “The people of God” and only as the head of the college of bishops. It appears that much attention is given to living the ministry and mission of Jesus by helping each other live safely and happily together in this world. However, less importance is given to reaching our eternal home (house, mansion) in heaven and to the supernatural grace needed to reach it nor is great importance placed on the chief means of obtaining grace – attendance at Sunday Mass and the reception of the seven sacraments (touched on but not fully taught).
Following the 4 th General Assembly of Bishops on Catechesis (Rome, October 1977) Pope St. John Paul 11 wrote “Catechesi Tradendae”. Let us take just two points from it:
(a) “A certain memoration of the words of Jesus, important Bible passages, the Ten Commandments, formulas of profession of faith, liturgical texts, essential prayers, key doctrinal ideas etc., far from being opposed to the dignity of young Christians, or constituting an obstacle to personal dialogue with the Lord, is a real need, as the Synod Fathers forcefully recalled.
The blossoms of faith and piety do not grow in the desert places of a memory- less catechesis. The texts must at the same time be taken in and gradually understood in depth in order to become a source of Christian life in both the personal and community level” (p.83).
Questions 1. Does the current curriculum in which the Catholic Faith is presented in a fragmented and incomplete fashion and two of its fundamental dogmas (The Trinity – three persons in one God) and the Incarnation (the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ) - left until high school years, lend itself to memorisation and a gradual understanding in depth?
2. Is the fact that so many (over 90%) of Catholic schooled children do not practice the Faith asked for them at Baptism due to the fact that it was left in the desert places of memory-less catechesis? (b) “The special character of the Catholic school, the underlying reason for it, the reason why parents should prefer it, is precisely the quality of the religious instruction integrated into the education of its pupils. Catholic institutions have a duty to make students understand that, although God’s call to serve him in spirit and truth, in accordance with the Ten Commandments of God and the Precepts of the Church does not apply constraint, it is nevertheless binding in conscience.”
‘Catechesis Tradente’ states that the Catholic school would no longer deserve this title if, no matter how much it shone for its high level of teaching in non- religious subjects, there were justification for reproaching it for negligence or deviation in strictly religious education (p. 102-103).
Questions 1. Are the current parents choosing Catholic schools for the quality of its education in the Catholic Faith or are they often, after twelve years of education in Catholic schools themselves, so devoid of a true understanding of Catholicism and its unchanging teachings that they do not hold the above expectations? 2. If parents expect the Catholic schools to which they sent their children to teach them English, Maths Arts, History etc. is it unreasonable to expect them to teach them “all things that Christ taught” i.e. The Catholic Faith in its entirety?