Over the past couple of weeks I have exchanged letters with a bishop who did not like my religious education critiques or my reference to the USCCB's Catechetical list (The List) as a magic eight ball. He took my comments as an insult directed at the bishops' wisdom and teaching. To avoid any misunderstandings, I won't be using that reference to The List anymore.
He also had the following comment about The List which I think is a very important point that just about everyone, including the National Catholic Register which has been running a long series on dioceses being in compliance with The List, has missed.
Placing a text or series on the approved list does not constitute an endorsement. Similar to an imprimatur, it means only that the series is in conformity with the Catechism and does not contradict it. This is a negative statement and should be understood that way.
Since I know of at least one parish that has banned the use of the Baltimore Catechism because it is not on The List and since I have never talked to anyone about The List who didn't think that The List was either a recommendation list by the bishops or the only texts allowed for use in the Church, I thought quoting the bishop here was important.
Because The List is the lowest possible bar on which to choose a text and really doesn't give any indication of the quality of a series, we have started a new project - Catholic Catechetical Review (www.catecheticalreview.com) This website is a wiki, meaning that anyone can add and edit the content of the site. We thought that such an open, colaborative project would be the best way to build up a body of helpful information about the various religious education programs on the market. This site is meant to point out both the good and bad points within programs and we hope will become a main stopping point for educators and parents before making a decision about the programs they choose.
If you want to help with the project, simply create an acount and start reviewing the program you are currently using.
We are in the process of building up some help files to assist you, as wiki editing is different than your standard blog or website. We are also looking for donations so that we can purchase different series and mail them to people who would like to review them. This project is part of our commitment to providing you with the best in Catholic products to assist you on your journey to Heaven.