Something “new” for Catholic high schools in Cleveland: A radical, revamped Catholic religion curriculum…


The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Diocese of Cleveland has “revamped” its high school religion curriculum which will be implemented when school reopens this fall.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for those who grew up in the pre-Vatican II era is that the term “revamped” today means “redoux.”  Gone is the post-Vatican II “God loves you, so feel good doing it” religious education curriculum which stressed the many and varied pathways to salvation.  The revamped curriculum will feature a traditional Catholic religion curriculum that stresses orthodoxy and moral clarity.


The Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Cleveland, Margaret Lyons, says the revamped program will be “Gospel-centered” and “very orthodox.”  In addition, the revamped teaching materials have expunged any “shyness about talking about moral issues” and will convey concepts “known to previous generations of Catholics but absent from more recent instruction.”  The Motley Monk would note that means many of the catechetical “noun-ing’s” representative of that era—“faithing,” “theologizing,” and “deconstructing”—are “out.” 

Moral clarityVery orthodox?  No shyness?

Omigosh!  This is radical!

While the revamped curriculum “underscores Jesus Christ and the Paschal Mystery” as the source of salvation, students will “read and [will be] guided through Church documents” and if it’s to be believed…

They [will be] taught the role and importance of the Magisterium in guarding and passing on the faith, as well as being a sure guide to positive thinking and behavior.

Additionally, students [will be] instructed in ancient prayer practices used throughout the Church’s two thousand years of history, including the Rosary, Lectio Divina, meditation, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Psalms, litanies and readings in Sacred Scripture.

Omigosh, again!  Magisterium? A sure guide?

What happened to magisterium of the vox populi Dei?

Superintendent Lyons also says the purpose of the revamped curriculum is to cultivate an enduring and lifelong faith, one that’s capable of standing up to cultural secularism and moral relativism.

Wasn’t that called forming “the Church militant” in a previous era?


Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon
Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland (OH)


According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the revamped religion curriculum comes in response to concerns raised by teachers and clergy about the quality of religious instruction in local Catholic schools.  After being appointed Bishop of Cleveland in 2006, Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon listened and assessed the situation, a process that resulted in the 2012 revamped religion curriculum based upon the Catechism of the Catholic Church and guidelines from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Motley Monk will be watching closely to see if Cleveland’s revamped Catholic religion curriculum will demonstrate significantly better learning outcomes than the post-Vatican II religious education curriculum did.  Since the 1970s, the National Catholic Educational Association’s Assessment of Catechesis and Religious Education has demonstrated very little difference in outcomes between students attending Catholic schools and those attending CCD programs.  All along, the dirty little secret everyone knew—including the nation’s Catholic hierarchy—was that few young Catholics learned anything demonstrably Catholic during those decades.

At a minimum, future graduates from Cleveland’s Catholic high schools will hopefully know something about the Catholic faith and its practice.  That certainly would represent one important step in the right direction.

After all, knowing little-to-nothing about the Catholic faith and its practice, whatever became of the vast majority of those graduates of Catholic high schools students who were taught the post-Vatican II religious education curriculum?

One thing is certain: They surely aren’t attending Sunday Mass but want those big, expensive church weddings…what has been called “an important catechetical moment.”



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The Motley Monk is Fr. Richard Jacobs, O.S.A., a Professor of Public Administration at Villanova University. His academic specialities include: organizational theory; leadership ethics; Catholic educational leadership; and, U.S. Catholic educational history. Check out Fr. Jacobs' daily blog at http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html.


  1. This is excellent news! With the extremely weak presentation of Catholic teaching that was in place from Vatican II until recently, the children did not learn their prayers or the content of Catholic teaching. The attitude was almost explicitly, “six of one, half a dozen of the other,” and “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Now we have adult Catholics who don’t know what the sacraments are or what they are about. They don’t know their prayers, and they think the Church might as well accommodate itself to secular culture. Why not? So to have this correction, this return to what is essential and important is a genuine “Praise God!” moment. Is there any way we could get a look at the actual curriculum?

  2. I have to say it saddens me to think that a nice song like Kumbaya has become associated with such theological nonsense.

  3. Wow! They seem to have a strong Bishop in Bishop Lennon. He’s also the Bishop who very firmly and decisively acted on the bogus apparition site in his diocese, Holy Love Ministry, that bills itself as “ecumenical” but laden with as many Catholic-ish stuff to draw in the Catholics.

    It’s still going strong, I’m told, but not for wont of trying on the Bishop’s part. I know he issued at least two very strongly worded public letters to his diocese (and the country) that the supposed apparitions are not of a supernatural origin and all Catholics are prohibited from visiting the site (or words to that effect).

    This news about catechesis is great ~ it’d be even more wonderful if they’d start this in grade school when little minds and souls are being formed. But better late than never.

  4. OK – now for impetus of the National Catholic Education Association and USCCB to go forth for our children.

  5. Yes!!! THE CCC at Catholic schools, what a concept! I thought that at this point Catholic Schools couldnt even teach about religion!

  6. I am very proud of my good bishop. Bishop Lennon has been faced with horrible disrespect and malicious attack by the area media, and most painfully, his own people. He has made badly needed changes in our diocese. One of his first actions was to remove Futurechurch, a ultra-liberal “catholic” organization which stridently campaigns for married clergy, woman priests, etc. from the rectory of a Cleveland parish, where it had been conducting business with the full knowledge of our former bishop.

    Please pray for him and my diocese.

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