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RCIA called to account.

The February '98 edition of Crisis magazine carried an article by Brian Robertson entitled "Christian Initiation at Risk." Like many converts, the writer says, he was elated by the coming of the new Catechism, which gave him answers never provided by the RCIA program at his local parish. The program he went through was short on doctrine and long on subjective experience. Looking at other programs in the U.S., Robertson has found that they have in fact become vehicles for reformers intent on promulgating a heterodox vision of Vatican II.

When RCIA was established in 1972, he says, it was intended to be a re-capturing of the rites of initiation in the early Church. Now the rate of perseverance for adult converts has diminished rather than increased. The decline goes back to the late Father James B. Dunning, founder of NAF, the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. Since its founding, some fifty thousand people have taken part in its programs designed to instruct catechists on how to implement RCIA at the parish level.

In his book Echoing God's Word, which NAF calls "the basis for our institute," Father Dunning declared his agenda on the first page: "Let us be clear: Our new rites of adult initiation are about a revolution." He wanted to change the Eucharist from an emphasis on the consecration through the power of the priest to "Church understood as community." He ridiculed the papacy, dogma, and the magisterium, and hoped that faith in the Spirit "might free us from distorted Christologies that envision a monarchical God." His clear message, Robertson says, was that a "faithful" member of the people of God was free to dissent from Church teaching.

It is possible for an RCIA program to provide a satisfactory introduction to Catholic doctrine for an adult convert. However, many programs are far from satisfactory, particularly because they take the direction mapped out for them by Father Dunning. Robertson's concluding suggestion is, "Perhaps it's time to take RCIA out of the hands of the `professional catechists' and entrust it to those faithful who have read - and adhere to - the Catechism."
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Jul 1, 1998
Previous Article:Universal Church: catechetical issues.
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