Response regarding catechetical policy for Eparchy of Toronto

Tuesday, June 02 1998

Letters to the Editor
Catholic Insight
PO Box 625
Adelaide Station
36 Adelaide Street East
Toronto, Ontario
M5C 2J8

The Editor:

Re: references to the Born of the Spirit catechetical series in the policy statement for the Eparchy of Toronto, “For our children and for us all”, and the book review of Father Leonard Kennedy, CSB, of Born of the Spirit: A Critique, by Teresa Pierlot, as published in the June 1998 edition of Catholic Insight:

Born of the Spirit is a catechetical program published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops through the agency of its National Office of Religious Education. As explicitly noted in the student texts, teacher manuals and parent resources that are part of this ongoing series for primary grades, these materials are part of a “catechetical program”. This term has been specifically chosen by the Bishops of Canada to distinguish their published materials from an official catechism, and at the same time to indicate that their resources are to assist in catechetical formation (as indicated in Canon 827).

This distinction is also touched upon, although not exactly in the same manner, by the recent General Directory for Catechesis in the reference it makes to “official catechisms”, falling under Canon 775, and “non official catechisms and other catechetical aids”, falling under Canon 827 (General Directory for Catechesis, para. 131, note 31).

Although Born of the Spirit series is not recognized as a catechism by this Episcopal Conference nor imposed in an obligatory manner on the dioceses of Canada, it is approved by the Episcopal Commission for Christian Education and recommended to the dioceses by the Episcopal Conference. However, it is for each individual bishop to decide what catechetical resources are to be used by the parishes and schools of his diocese.

The members of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Education take their work most seriously, reading through each draft of the publications, working in careful consultation with the staff of the National Office of Religious Education, and assuring the catechetical series is in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as can be verified in the cross references provided in the teacher’s manual for each grade.

Among those who have served on this Commission over recent years have been the Archbishop of Toronto, His Eminence Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic, as well as two former Presidents of this Episcopal Conference: Most Reverend Marcel Gervais, Archbishop of Ottawa, and Francis J. Spence, Archbishop of Kingston. The present Chairman of the Commission is Most Reverend Anthony Tonnos, Bishop of Hamilton.

The quality and orthodoxy of the catechetical publications by the Canadian Episcopal Conference are respected not only by Episcopal Conferences and catechists in other countries, but also acknowledged by the Holy See. Mrs. Bernadette Tourangeau, Executive Director of the National Office for Religious Education, whom the Holy Father appointed as an auditor at the recent Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America, was named to the International Council for Catechesis by the Congregation for the Clergy.

Furthermore, the Holy See asked both Mrs. Tourangeau and Most Reverend John O’Mara, Bishop of St. Catharines and a member of the Episcopal Commission, to give presentations at the 1997 International Catechetical Congress in Rome, as well as inviting Ms. Joanne Chafe, also from the National Office of Religious Education, because of her internationally recognized work in adult faith education.


Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, P.H.
General Secretary

CC Most Reverend Roman Danylak
Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of Toronto

Most Reverend Anthony Tonnos
Bishop of Hamilton
Chairman, Episcopal Commission for Christian Education