Sunday, September 27, 2009

Confusion to the north

International Studies in Catholic Education is a scholarly journal that began publishing this year.  It's second issue contains the following article (emphasis within the abstract is mine).

Can there be ‘faithful dissent’ within Catholic religious education in schools?
Graham P. McDonough
Pages 187 - 199


Catholic education struggles with an apparent tension between student-centred methods and remaining true to the official Church teaching. The traditional view holds that students are to learn ecclesial facts, but contemporary pedagogy promotes a wider range of experiences. Consequentially, teachers struggle with the question of how to deal with reasonable student dissent on non-infallible teachings like contraception, female ordination and homosexuality. This essay comments on interview findings that religion teachers attempt to accommodate dissent, but since there is no firm theoretical grounding for student-centred methods the possibility of nurturing a reasonable intra-Church intellectual plurality becomes lost in the Catholic school.

Keywords: dissent; pedagogy-religious education; Catholic school-aims; critical thinking

Editor’s Note: This is Canadian research based on Catholic schools in Saskatchewan.

Dr. McDonough is listed as an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Victoria.  His 2007 doctrinal dissertation is entitled "The moral and pedagogical importance of dissent to Catholic education."

A few of the terms in the good doctor's abstract are just begging for translation into plain English.

  • "Contemporary pedagogy promotes a wider range of experiences" actually means that, sadly, many of today's Catholic teachers and their schools are heavily into experiential theology.
  • "Non-infallible teachings like contraception, female ordination and homosexuality" is pure gobbledygook. If the solemn teachings contained in Humanae Vitae and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis are not binding on one's conscience, then hardly anything taught by the Church is. Ditto for any teaching proclaimed by the pope and bishops always and everywhere.
  • "Reasonable intra-Church intellectual plurality" is double-speak for dissent which is, itself, the politically correct term for heresy.


Mary Kay said...


This is his faculty page:

His CV isn't posted anywhere, but note his "research interests" focus on dissent and "sacred-secular tensions." I have my doubts if he's even Catholic.

Concerned Catholic said...

All lay Catholic school and religious ed teachers who do not put down dissent the minute it rears its sinful head should be fired. There is no place for questions that have already been answered. The nuns who taught us understood that and made us understand it too at the end of a yardstick if necessary. Bring back the sisters, God bless them.