[Now I don't agree with everything Daphne MacLeod of the Flock Magazine gets up to [Ecclesia et Pontifice blog] but this news need to be known by us all....]
It is the fashion today for dioceses in England and Wales to offer glossy expensive Programmes with trendy titles for adult lay Catholics. None that we have seen works through either the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” or the “Compendium”,so, although there is a real need for adult catechesis, these programmes should be approached with caution. As most seem to bear little relation to true catechesis or the teaching of the Church they could lead us down the wrong path entirely.
For example, giving an interim report on “Seeking the face of Christ” the Programme of Consultation with the Laity used in Clifton Diocese, Bishop Declan Lang pointed out to an audience of priests, deacons and parish council members that some issues could not be decided by him alone. He cited as examples, “women priests, married clergy and celibacy” explaining that these would have to be “taken to the Bishops’ Conference for discussion.”
Does he really believe that these are proper issues for laity to discuss or that there is any point in taking them to the Bishops of England and Wales for discussion ?
Another programme which we have studied, as it seems fairly typical, is “At Your Word, Lord” – the follow-up to which is currently running in Westminster Archdiocese. Like the others, it aims to set up small ‘faith-sharing’ groups within parishes where people exchange their own ideas about the faith without any correction of error allowed. As the Pope has warned us, there is now ‘widespread religious ignorance’ among Catholics so this is bound to cause confusion and distress.
To compound these errors, the team running the programme, Bishops John Arnold and George Stack, Mgr Keith Balthrop of CASE and Father O’Boy, under the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, seem to have deliberately chosen well-known dissenters as the only resources. For instance they have invited Father Rafeal Esteban, author of “How the Church must change” to come all the way from East Anglia to explain how the Church must change Her teaching on, among other things, contraception. He will also show how we must dismantle the Hierarchial Church, instituted by Christ, in favour of a democratic church of his own devising. We are told that ‘Father is an excellent speaker’ who will explore “ideas of leadership and the development of lay ministry,” but whether he will be following the ‘Lord’s word’ I am not at all sure.
“Sadhana: A Way to God,” is the book chosen as a resource. This book, by Father Anthony de Mello, promotes practices from eastern religions such as mantras, centering prayer, and other Buddhist techniques. It was considered to be so dangerous to Catholics that the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, when under Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, took the unusual step of issuing a stern notification pronouncing it “void” and “ambiguous”. This must prompt the question: Why teach Buddhism when it is Catholicism we need to know? Or is the Lord in “At Your Word, Lord,” the Lord Buddha? And if this was not enough….. Westminster have also invited the psychotherapist Margaret Philpot to indoctrinate Catholics with the discredited Liberation ‘Theology’. Laity will be trained in theory-practice-methodology techniques so they are equipped with the skills they need to take over from the clergy in leading their fellow Catholics - obviously down the wrong road. We must do all we can to expose the dangers of this Programme to the innocent, vulnerable Catholics who will otherwise be led astray by it.
We should also point out to the authorities that there are many faithful Catholic priests much closer than East Anglia who would willingly give talks which are in line with Church teaching to people following a Programme. There are also excellent CATHOLIC spiritual books, some of them by canonised saints, which would not lead anyone astray but would make really worthwhile resources. Indeed, there is now an excellent, truly Catholic Programme for adults called Evangelium which informs and inspires people without dissent of any kind. Evangelium is available from the CTS. It presents the faith extremely well and in an interesting way using modern technology. If this was used in all our dioceses it would go a long way towards correcting the errors instilled by forty years of false catechesis, by the rogue courses ‘Catholic’ ALPHA and CaFE, and by these new Programmes. It could even put whole parishes back on the right path and lead them to Christ.