Popes Francis, Benedict XVI, and John Paul II have called the present a time of New Evangelization for the Church and have stressed the importance of catechesis for this mission. John Paul II claimed that this renewal of the Church’s mission is grounded in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. Nevertheless, approaches to catechesis in the conciliar and postconciliar era have varied greatly, as evidenced by the shifts in catechetical practice effected by the modern catechetical movement. Just as the dominant forms of theology changed from neo-scholastic to anthropological approaches so, too, did catechesis move from catechism-based approaches to more anthropological models based upon human experience.
In light of this context, Catechesis for the New Evangelization examines the theological foundations of catechesis in the Church’s understanding of divine revelation and its reception by the human person, especially as found in the conciliar constitutions, Dei Verbum and Gaudium et Spes. After drawing norms on divine revelation from these documents, it traces the history of the modern catechetical movement in order to compare this history with the conciliar norms, highlighting the renewal’s strengths and weaknesses.
These steps prepare the way for the main part of the book: an examination of the anthropology of Karol Wojtyła/Pope John Paul II. Ultimately, his anthropology provides an understanding of the person that can unite divine revelation and human experience in a way that takes what is best from the modern catechetical movement, while developing the ministry in a way that can be fruitful for the New Evangelization.
Pedraza’s book is not only an incisive look at modern catechetical history and theory. It also touches upon some of the most important theological topics of the past century, including the neo-scholastic crisis, the proper interpretation of the Council, the relationship of nature and grace, and the modern understanding of the imago dei, with the research and competency appropriate for scholarly interest and the accessibility needed for educated practitioners in catechesis.