Catechesis for the New Evangelization: Vatican II, John Paul II, and the Unity of Revelation and Experience

by Brian Pedraza
Catholic University of America Press, 2020
Paper: 978-0-8132-3273-7, eISBN: 978-0-8132-3274-4

Popes Francis, Benedict XVI, and John Paul II have called the present a time of New Evangelization for the Church and have stressed the importance of catechesis for this mission. John Paul II claimed that this renewal of the Church’s mission is grounded in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. Nevertheless, approaches to catechesis in the conciliar and postconciliar era have varied greatly, as evidenced by the shifts in catechetical practice effected by the modern catechetical movement. Just as the dominant forms of theology changed from neo-scholastic to anthropological approaches so, too, did catechesis move from catechism-based approaches to more anthropological models based upon human experience.

In light of this context, Catechesis for the New Evangelization examines the theological foundations of catechesis in the Church’s understanding of divine revelation and its reception by the human person, especially as found in the conciliar constitutions, Dei Verbum and Gaudium et Spes. After drawing norms on divine revelation from these documents, it traces the history of the modern catechetical movement in order to compare this history with the conciliar norms, highlighting the renewal’s strengths and weaknesses.

These steps prepare the way for the main part of the book: an examination of the anthropology of Karol Wojtyła/Pope John Paul II. Ultimately, his anthropology provides an understanding of the person that can unite divine revelation and human experience in a way that takes what is best from the modern catechetical movement, while developing the ministry in a way that can be fruitful for the New Evangelization.

Pedraza’s book is not only an incisive look at modern catechetical history and theory. It also touches upon some of the most important theological topics of the past century, including the neo-scholastic crisis, the proper interpretation of the Council, the relationship of nature and grace, and the modern understanding of the imago dei, with the research and competency appropriate for scholarly interest and the accessibility needed for educated practitioners in catechesis.
Introduction: Truth and Love: Christianity as Knowledge and a Way
Truth and Love: Moments from the Church’s History
Truth and Love: From Vatican II to the New Evangelization
John Paul II and Catechesis for the New Evangelization
1. Revelation and the Human Person according to Vatican II
Interpreting the Council
Dei Verbum
Gaudium et Spes
Norms on Revelation and the Human Person
2. The History of Modern Catechetics
The Modern Catechetical Movement: A Movement in Three Phases
The First Phase: The Search for a Better Method
The Second Phase: Kerygmatic Catechesis
The Third Phase: The Anthropological Turn
Assessing the Renewal
Reform and Renewal of Catechesis
3. The Human Person in the Light of Reason
Wojtyła’s Anthropology: The Structure of Personal Fulfillment
The Dignity of the Human Person
From the Inside Outward: Entering into Experience and Transcending It
Transcendence: Freedom Directed toward Fulfillment
The Act of Love: Fulfillment with Other Persons
Person and Community: Love’s Necessity
Crossing the Threshold
4. The Human Person in the Light of Jesus Christ
John Paul II’s Theological Anthropology: Breadth and Scope
The Dignity of the Human Person: The Image of God
The Image of God in Tradition: Ontic and Ethical, Natural and Supernatural Aspects of the Image
John Paul II’s Interpretation of Gaudium et Spes
The Epistemology of Nature and Grace: Faith and Reason
Toward Catechesis for the New Evangelization
5. Catechesis for the New Evangelization
Situating John Paul II’s Thoughts on Catechesis in Our Time
Doctrinal Catechesis
Catechetical Method
The Kerygma and an Evangelizing Catechesis
The Role of Experience in Catechesis
Catechesis and the Pedagogy of God
Conclusion: Truth and Love: Jesus Christ, Revealer of God and the Human Person

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