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50 percent fallout for RCIA candidates. (News in Brief: Canada).

Steubenville, OH--A recent conference for catechists at the University of Steubenville, Ohio, concluded that 50% of RCIA candidates fall away from the Church within one year of receiving the sacraments of initiation.

Several factors for this decline were discussed, one of which concerned "moral stumbling blocks." Abortion, premarital sex, contraception, and similar issues present difficulties that, if left unresolved, can seriously impede conversion," stated the conference.

But surely, one would logically ask, wouldn't the candidates be well aware of the Church's stand on these issues before their initiation into the Church? Well, not always, it would seem. Fr. Richard Cash, one of the conference speakers, remarked, "I've seen too many people say, 'We don't want to make people uncomfortable so we aren't going to talk about the hard things like sexual morality.' The hard things must be treated, emphasizes Father Cash. You must present the Gospel in all its pristine beauty and in its force.

Toronto Archdiocese

It is well known, the conference was told, that the quality of RCIA programs varies from diocese to diocese, even from parish to parish within the same diocese. In some RCIA programs the candidates never hear the "hard teachings." Take a case in point: in one large parish in the Toronto archdiocese, the doctrinally qualified RCIA director was summarily dismissed from her position mid-year. The reason? The newly-arrived pastor was one who didn't believe in teaching doctrine. He believed that the RCIA program should be 90% faith-sharing and 10% instruction in the faith. He wanted the RCIA to hear from "left wing" speakers in order to "dialogue" with the candidates. And that they certainly did.

Within one week of the former director's dismissal, the RCIA people were told that the Blessed Virgin Mary had other children after she gave birth to Jesus, followed by more heterodoxy of a similar kind. After such a program is there any wonder that the RCIA fallout after one year is 50%? The wonder is, given the content and message of some RCIA programs, that the fallout isn't much higher.

Msgr. Francis Mannion in an article in Lay Witness (Sept/Oct 2002) entitled "Liturgical Reform Since Vatican II," writes the following:

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) gets, in my book, high marks. The various rites and processes help form truly fine new Catholics. The order and logic of the rites, with their culmination in the Easter Vigil, add up to quite a splendid picture. The freshness and vitality of the patristic heritage shine through with remarkable directness and power.

On the other hand, the RCIA is extraordinarily susceptible to being co-opted by parish and diocesan leaders with formational agendas far beyond what the Church could embrace, including experiential-expressive approaches to sacramental rites, and an anti-doctrinal stance in catechesis, and a congregationalist ecclesiology.

I worry, too, that given its susceptibility to bureaucratization and the spinning out of enormous--and not inexpensive--programmatic webs, the RCIA might collapse under its own weight. A reminder here is useful: Any programming of the rite that cannot be performed by a country pastor with the help of the members of his small community is questionable.
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Nov 1, 2002
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