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US Catholics fight Merton exclusion from adult catechism

Catholics in the US are petitioning the nation's Bishops to reverse a decision to remove legendary Trappist author Thomas Merton from the forthcoming US Catholic Catechism for Adults because Merton is allegedly an unsuitable role model for young adults.

In this week's cover story, the National Catholic Reporter says 500 Catholics have petitioned the bishops' catechism committee to reverse its acquiescence to the critics' charges that Merton is an unsuitable role model for young adults.

Having endured four years, three drafts, and more than 10,000 suggested amendments, and having finally gained overwhelming support among bishops and other consultants as a solid source of information and an open invitation to explore the faith, the 456-page US Catholic Catechism for Adults now awaits the required Vatican recognitio before becoming official.

The controversy arose when two catechetical translators wrote an article for Catholic World News condemning the catechism's biographical inclusion of Merton.

This week's National Catholic Reporter says "the internationally admired Merton, whose The Seven Storey Mountain in 1949 helped energise a surge of postwar vocations to the priesthood and religious life - not a bad role model in the current American climate of priest shortages and sex scandals".

The translators - seminary instructor Monsignor Michael Wrenn, and author and former education secretary Kenneth Whitehead - asserted that Merton's investigation of Eastern religions toward the end of his life make him a poor role model for faithful Catholics.

The National Catholic Reporter feature, written by Deborah Halter, a lecturer in World Religions at the Jesuits' Loyola University, New Orleans, comments that the "catechism conflict, for better or worse, reveals confusion about what it means to be orthodox in post-Vatican II society, about who ultimately has the power to decide, and by what means."

Whose orthodoxy is it? (National Catholic Reporter 11/3/05)

LINKS (not endorsed by Church Resources)
US Conference of Catholic Bishops - Office for the Catechism

Thomas Merton scholars upset by monk's absence in upcoming catechism (Catholic News Service 7/1/05)

10 Mar 2005