MRS HEBBLETHWAITE'S spirited defence of Fr McCabe's orthodoxy is appealing. Unfortunately I am not as confident as she probably is about the new catechism.
Fr McCabe's catechism is modern in a good sense; it is beautifully produced, well set out and uses the language well. It is modern in a bad sense in that it seems to equivocate too much and seems less than positive about certain aspects of what used to be called "official teaching".
The author has admitted that he is unhappy about some of the magistcrium's teaching. At the press conference it appears that he publicly intimated a disagreement with the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith over the issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood.
Since the CTS has not expressed an "official" opinion about this, what will happen to Do 493, "The Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood"?
Fr McCabe admittedly hopes to generate discussion by means of his catechism, and this purpose is facilitated by means of, what appear to be, strategic gaps. The section on contraception is a case in point. The official teaching is not simply the product of Pope Paul VI "and some other authorities"; there is a consistent Papal teaching here which some theologians have backed, along with many other people in the Church, including some married Catholics, some of whom have contributed in no small way to our understanding of this issue (eg John Finnis).
I am unhappy about the treatment of the Virgin Birth. It is enough to say what the evangelists record? It is, after all, still part of the Church's official teaching. There are other sections that leave me uneasy (eg on the Eucharist). It is often not a case of what is said, but rather what is ommitted.
I am not entirely negative about the catechism as there are parts which I find very good indeed. I merely question (if I may) the orthodoxy of the method. Is it good catechesis? On the whole I am inclined to say probably not. What is wrong with clarity anyway? Why should some things be clear and others not, and who decides which shall be which?
May I therefore say to the CTS that the title of, The Teaching of the Catholic Church is ultimately misleading?
My opinions are not meant to constitute an attack on Fr McCabe, but since the question of orthodoxy has arisen and has already been defended, I merely wish to express an honest opinion.
Fr J Abberton St Robert's, Robert Street, Harrogate