Do personal opinions belong in RCIA teachings?

I have had difficulty with this ever since two sessions ago, when we had a very interesting RCIA meeting. One of the RCIA instructors brought up the recent deaths of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul the Second. She asked us how we felt about the case. That night we had a few new faces in our crowd, people looking to Inquire. We went around the table, and the majority of consensus was that we felt a grave injustice had taken place, that there weren’t enough facts, and that we did not believe the argument her husband held that “the sanctity of marriage compelled him to uphold her wishes” was correct at all. It was the majority consensus that we felt he had violated his duty to his wife, and his promises in his marital vows.

Nonwithstanding, the instructor who brought up this issue attacked our opinions and said that we were judging where we shouldn’t, and that he was in the right - even after breaking his vows.She said that Terri had been dead a long time, just not “really dead” and we couldn’t expect a marriage to be valid after someone “dies”. She said that in her opinion, he did the right thing. One of our group asked what the Church’s stance was on an estranged husband or wife making decisions over our care - furthermore what the Church’s position was on having necessary food and water being taken from an otherwise “healthy” person.

This is where she faltered several times, and said that the Church errs on the side of life, then she said that the Church also erred on the side of science. She stammered once more and said the Church did not consider his actions to be a mortal sin. She finished up her statements with saying that she believed that any one of us put in that position would have done as he did, would have done as she proclaimed she would.

This led into an hour, heated argument between her and another new member of our group. We didn’t learn anything further during the night, aside from the uncomfortableness we all felt having our instructor yell back and forth with another member.

This past session, she brought up as a side note at the end of our meeting on Social Justice that she felt we all (meaning those who did not share her opinion) harbored a grave judgement of Michael Schiavo, and then quoted “Let he who has not committed the first sin, cast the first stone.”.

I left the first heated meeting very upset with how out of hand the discussion went, and further disgusted with how our instructor let her personal opinions color her teaching of Doctrine. I may have been under the wrong impression about RCIA, but I believed we were there to learn what the Church had to say, and not what our instructors personally thought was acceptable and not acceptable.

Let it be known, however, that I do value the honest and open debate of worldy issues, one might even call me a bit of a controversial debater, often taking up other sides just to see things from all angles. Even with this mentality, I feel something very wrong happened in RCIA.

Those few new people we had visit that first heated night did not return for our last meeting.

I ask you for your guidance. Am I overreacting regarding this, or was the approach of my instructor improper?

Dear msh,

My concern is not so much with her opinions as with her lack of knowledge of and/or her commitment to Catholic teaching. She should not be teaching in the RCIA. What is wrong with your pastor? This is primarily his responsibility. My hunch is that this is where the real problem lies. He should be informed of her bias.

You are in our prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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