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.
"Pedraza’s book is not only a very well informed book on modern catechetical theory. It also touches on some of the most important theological discussions of the last hundred years. Will be interesting reading for anyone interested in the hermeneutics of Vatican II and the interpretation of John Paul II’s pontificate."~Jaroslaw Kupczak, author of Gift and Communion: John Paul II's Theology of the Body (CUA Press)
"A first- rate study of the thought of the most prolific pope of our times. Pedraza offers an outstanding demonstration of the way in which St. John Paul II's anthropology corresponds to the Council's understanding of revelation, gives a nuanced reading of his understanding of nature and grace (helpfully distinguishing him from Henri De Lubac, which many do not), and provides a careful treatment of his concept of person (distinguishing him from Joseph Ratzinger, his friend and close collaborator). But beyond this deep and elegantly captured theological portrait of the human person, this study applies this vision to the field of catechetics, demonstrating the importance and the limitations of experience within the theological enterprise. A must read for students and scholars of John Paul II and in the field of catechetics."~John Grabowski, The Catholic University of America
"Catechetical theory has been marked by an uncreative stasis, either rehashing old debates or rehearsing magisterial statements without sufficient philosophical or theological precision. In Pedraza's reclamation of the philosophical, theological, and pedagogical dimensions of the work of John Paul II, one discovers a way forward for the field of catechesis. In this constructive project, Pedraza proposes a way of doing catechesis that is attuned to a theological anthropology grounded in love. This work will be important for scholars of catechesis for years to come."~Tim O'Malley, University of Notre Dame
"For nearly half a century, Catholics throughout the world have heard incessantly the invitation to embrace the New Evangelization. Such an invitation is ultimately a summons to encounter Jesus Christ--again and again--in the here and now of our historical existence, to reclaim who we are as women and men profoundly transformed by God’s merciful love. This compelling book argues that to understand the extent of that encounter and to grow in this ever-new anthropological awareness, the New Evangelization demands a catechesis grounded in the unity of truth and love. In this well-written contribution to catechetical theory, Brian Pedraza reminds readers that good catechesis always presupposes sound theological reflection. He models such relationship by entering in conversation with one of the most influential Catholic voices of the twentieth century, St. John Paul II. This work is definitely a primer on evangelizing catechesis for our day."~Hosffman Ospino, Boston College