by Jonathan Petre THE VATICAN'S decision to ban the best-selling adult catechism Christ Among Us 17 years after it was published has drawn fire from religious educators in England and the United States.
The main reaction has been surprise, but some have questioned how the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reached its conclusions about the book, which educators say is widelj, used for preparing catechumens to enter ,the Catholic Church, for use in schools and in classes for people inquiring about the faith.
Fr John Redford, the director of the Southwark Diocesan Catechetical Centre in Tooting Soc. South London, said this week that the book, b1 former priest Anthony Wilhelm was "an excellent teaching aid" saying that "its use has been prompted by the fact that it has received the approvement of the local bishop."
The Congregation has not specified which areas of the book it objects to, but Wilhelm's touching on angels, original sin and the virgin birth have been criticised in the past.
Christ Among Us said that the existence of angels and devils does not "seem to be part of the strictly dogmatic teaching of the Church"; on the story of Adam and Eve it said according to some scholars that monogenism (the doctrine that there was only one original couple} "is not necessarily part of God's revelation"; on the virginity of Mary the book said: "for Mary today whether Mary is or is not physically a virgin is of small consequence; they see her virginity as symbolising something far greater, her profound altitude of total oneness to God .."
Fr Redford said these points were speculative. and that the Congregation might want the author to take a more strict line than that rerpesented.
But he said: "As a corollary, however, it must be added that normally, at least in our own diocese, Wilhelm's adult catechism has been used as a text book as part of a course. The teacher of such a course therefore, has been able to clarify any possible ambiguities in the text and guide the reader through the speculations of the theologians."