Rome - The religious education world is aghast today following the promotion of the new YOUCAT catechism to the level of an extraordinary form of religious instruction.
Following years of work on the new catechism in secret, the Opus Dei albino monks and Cardinal Schonborn announced the new catechism in a media blitz led by the endorsement and singular declaration of the Pope. The preface of YOUCAT contains the apostolic constitution Conscientia Dabo Vobis in which the Pope raises the new catechism to "Extraordinary Form".
Fr. Joseph Fezzio, the president of Ignatio Press, the American publisher in charge of printing the English edition said that "The raising of a catechism to extraordinary form is, in itself, an extraordinary event. We are unaware of any other book in the history of the Church that has been given such status."
The new catechism has already generated controversy from the expected quarters. Fr. Richard O'Brien, author of the only catechism in history to have its imprimatur revoked, had some harsh criticism of the new volume. "Today's Catholic teens are universally aware of how special they are and they lead the world in the quality of their magazine collages. Who does the Pope think he is ruining an obviously perfect education system?"
Sr. Cheesesitter, head of publishing for the I Am Special Teen Workbook (part III) declared the new catechism "a travesty to American standards of religious education." Her specific criticisms included:
- "...turning the clock back to the original 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church which no one could read anyway."
- "[The catechism contains] far too many words and not enough color pictures and group projects."
- "The catechism expects far too much of our young people. This isn't 1891, you can't expect teens to learn so much stuff."
In spite of the criticism, the Pope sees the catechism as a timely publication. Speaking directly to the youth in the preface the Pope said "Yes, you must be more deeply rooted in the faith than your parents' generation, to be able to endure the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and decision."
Fr. Y, a pundit of all things extraordinary in the Church, took time away from bird watching to lend his support to the endeavor. "I'm in favor of anything with the word 'extraordinary' in it. Hopefully this new volume will be the beginning of a renewal of all religious education in the United States and around the world. I am not expecting things to happen overnight. This is a 'brick by brick' type of project."
Even as the ink is still drying on the first edition which is scheduled for release in March of 2011, Fr. Y sees many questions remaining. "Since the Pope has declared this catechism "extraordinary", does that mean that there is an "ordinary form"? Perhaps the Baltimore Catechism? As the extraordinary form of the Catechism, will its use require a bishop's approval or is there already a motu proprio in the works that will grant religious education directors freedom to choose the extraordinary form as they see fit?"