In a recent article in the December/January AD2000 Mr Eamonn Keane continues his long-standing criticism of religious education in the Diocese of Parramatta. The author seeks to discredit Thomas Groome's method of shared praxis by discrediting his theology.
As Bishop of Parramatta, I challenge Mr Keane's assertion that the Diocesan Religious Education Program, Sharing our Story, contains material which contradicts orthodox Church teaching. The Core Document is faithful to Church teaching and the role of the Magisterium in communicating that teaching.
Not only has the core material been subject to the attention of censors in a number of dioceses but Mr Keane, himself, when given the opportunity to comment, indicated that the materials and references they contain to Sacred Scripture and Church documents were appropriately used.
That leaves the matter of Groome's method of shared praxis. There is nothing unorthodox or heretical about shared praxis. It makes explicit a method of teaching practised by all good teachers through the centuries before the term shared praxis was ever coined. It is simply taking a life experience, reflecting on it, interpreting it in the light of Scripture and Tradition and getting on with living the Christian life. This is what we do sometimes when we pray.
This latest article on religious education in the Diocese of Parramatta prompts me to question the editorial policy of your journal. In June 2000, members of the Diocesan Religious Education staff responded to a request to provide an article on our new curriculum. This article was never published and no reason was given.
I hope that you will publish this letter in full as a means of correcting the erroneous impression you have given.
BISHOP KEVIN MANNING
[Editor: As Bishop Manning requested, we have published his letter in full. However, given the importance of the matters raised, we have invited a response from Eamonn Keane (see next column).
Regarding the unpublished article, 'AD2000' originally sought one from Bishop Manning on how the new Parramatta program followed the doctrinal content of the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church.' Instead, an article came from the Parramatta CEO which did not address the subject as envisaged and overall proved unsuitable for publication.
Subsequently, it was learned that the Parramatta program was based on the catechetical principles of Thomas Groome, a well-known dissenter from Church teachings.]