Criticism of the Catechism
When I was in college, the criticism of the Catechism I saw came from theologically progressive Catholics who primarily disagreed with the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.
However, since Pope Francis was elected, almost all of the pushback I’ve seen against the Catechism has come from either traditionalists who are suspicious of Vatican II or JPII Generation Catholics who praised John Paul II but who are now suspicious of Francis.
Regardless of the theological background, the spirit I see behind this criticism is one that trusts more in personal preferences and understanding of Catholicism rather than the Magisterium.
Personal experience can’t be dismissed out of hand, especially when the pope himself teaches that realities are greater than ideas. However, wrestling to reconcile personal experience with Church teaching is different than publicly criticizing the Magisterium.
That is why I think the Catechism is so important in ministry. It is the solid foundation we must build our teaching and preaching from in order to avoid make sure we aren’t simply presenting our personal preferences.
I regularly hear clergy and lay ministers teach things that sound good, and may reflect their own experiences, but that aren't what the Church teaches. The Church would be much better off if pastors and ministers took the Catechism more seriously.
My job as a catechist is to echo a message that is not my own, to share the Kerygma—the Good News of Jesus Christ—and not the good ideas of Paul Fahey. If I’m not grounding all of my teaching, preaching, and writing in the Catechism, then what am I actually giving people?
What this looks like in real life is that I’m literally reading parts of the Catechism every day. I’m critiquing theologians and pastors in light of the Catechism. I build my retreats, talks, and lessons from the Catechism. I seek to frame my own phrasing to mirror the Catechism. And I pray with the Catechism (though I don’t do this one as often as I perhaps should).
The Story of Salvation that the Catechism tells is compelling and I’ve seen it change lives. Why? Because it’s God’s story. Not my story.