Blessed Are We - A New Red Flag
At first glance, "Blessed Are We," a catechetical program by Silver Burdett Ginn, seems like it will meet the mark. However,
after taking a closer look at its scope and sequence, one will recognize quite a few Red Flags.
Dear Readers, I hope you don't mind my sharing with you that I possess a unique
perspective on these catechetical programs, since I have
written "copy" for various publishers, including those who are
striving to "update" their catechetical programs. Unfortunately,
nothing has changed in the "politically correct department" of these
publishing houses, and it is that department that hold the reins.
My original viewpoint as a catechetical contributor was one of hope.
However, catechetical writers who are actually practicing,
knowledgable Catholics are practically forced to express the truths
of the Catholic faith in certain terms; if that does not happen, our
phrasing is edited (i.e., it is diluted). Furthermore, and most
distressing of all, not all catechetical writers (much less the
editors) are even Catholic! Yet, in the end product, there is just
enough of the truth featured, providing a nice Catholic facade for
those who tend to just "glance over" these programs. (As for me, it
was a good learning opportunity, and it greatly assisted me as an
educator and a reviewer to experience first-hand the "inside
development" of such programs.)
First of all, Silver Burdett Ginn is now a part of Scott Foresman, a
secular educational company. (This fact lends further proof to my own
observations and experiences that those who control the reigns to
catechetical programs are secularists, if not outright progressives, liberals or modernists. )
The focus of "Blessed are We" may be summed up as follows: community,
service and social justice. The program aims to "respect diversity,
working for social justice on a global scale and teaching effective
skills of dialogue, negotiation and non-violent ways to bring about
The following is an overview of the first six levels, revealing some of the
program's Red Flags:
Baptism is a "celebration of becoming a member of the Christian
community." (Notice that baptism is no longer about washing away Original
Sin and thus becoming a child of God; instead, the focus is on "the
"Recognize God's image in each person" (rather than clearly explaining
that we are made in God's Image and explaining what that means, the
change in terms is misleading and can easily lead to a belief in
The Church is defined as a " a world community of all kinds of
people." (Compare this definition to that found in the Baltimore
The Apostle's Creed is "a set of beliefs" (i.e., not necessarily
Confession is termed only as "reconciliation," and little or nothing
is said about repentance and penance. Instead, through
reconciliation, "we can celebrate God's forgiveness and re-establish
our relationship with others, God and the church community. (Notice
we "celebrate" - not attain - God's forgiveness for our sins through
Confession and absolution. The focus is first on others, then God -
a "twist" of the first Commandment as well as the Great Commandment.)
"Blessed Are We" also teaches, "Reconciliation and Anointing of the
Sick are sacraments of healing which are meant to be celebrated
primarily in community." (Since when are these sacraments primarily
celebrated 'in community?" Thus, Confession is no longer
a "private matter" between God, one's confessor and one's self.
Extreme Unction is also a "community" event, but one would like to know
"how" if one is sick and ailing, whether at home or in a hospital.)
Unlike the Baltimore Catechism or Our Holy Faith, the sacraments are
not described as sacraments of the living or the "spiritually" dead,
since we can no longer acknowledge that venial sin wounds the grace in our souls or that mortal
sin kills the life of grace within our souls.
Mass is introduced as "special meal that celebrates God's love for
us." (It is no longer a Sacrifice, but a meal!) Later, there is an
acknowledgement that Jesus is "truly present" at the Mass, but it is
not made clear "how."
"Blessed Are We" acknowledges that Jesus leads us to God, but it is
not made very clear that Jesus IS God. He is mentioned as "messiah,
(small m) but His role is played down more to a level of another
prophet. At other times, his (sic) "salvific mission" is mentioned.
Most disturbing, especially once one gets to the lessons on ISLAM.
"Blessed are We" does not correctly teach the difference between respecting
a person of a different religion, because that person is also
made in God's image (not to mention that person's soul needs
salvation through the Catholic Church) and his belief system; instead it teaches we must
also "respect" a person's non-Catholic religion, with a special emphasis on respecting Islam. Furthermore, "Blessed Are We" does nothing positive for the student by presenting these "belief systems" since it does not correct them with true Catholic doctrine. Instead, it indoctrinates the student with the false viewpoint that other beliefs are acceptable, thus promoting the sin of religious indifferentism (i.e., the false belief that all religions are perceived as good and equal.)
Please allow me to provide a specific example (with all emphasis below mine), a very revealing excerpt from a "Blessed Are We"
website, which states:
We are one with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Let us take it upon
ourselves to become more knowledgeable and respectful of Muslims and
The content below was developed by Maureen Gallagher, Ph.D. Archdiocesan Delegate to Parishes in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Adapt
and integrate the content for use in the home, school, or parish.
Some Frequently Asked Questions about Islam, Muslims, and Related
This overview, by the nature of the format, is very cursory. You are
encouraged to study the issues in much more depth and explore the
resources named at the end of the questions.
1. What is Islam?
Islam is one of the great world religions. It was articulated by the
prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. The word `Islam' means
submission--submission to the will of God--and is derived from a word
meaning peace. The name given to God in Islam is Allah, which is the
Arabic name for God.
2. Who are Muslims?
Muslims are people who practice the Islamic faith. Muslims are the
second largest group of religious people in the world, next to
Christians. Muslim people come from many races, nationalities and
cultures. Many parts of the Asian and African world are Muslim. About
18% of Muslims live in the Middle Eastern Arab part of the world.
However, it should be noted that all Arabs are not Muslims. Some are
Christians and others practice other religions. Many African-
Americans are Muslims as their original religion in Africa was Islam.
Muslims do not see themselves as a "new religion," but rather the
last stage of God's revelation that began with Abraham continued to
Moses, Jesus and ultimately Muhammad. Many people of American and
European descent have embraced Islam.
3. What do Muslims believe?
Muslims believe in One God. They often use the words, One, Unique,
Incomparable God. They believe in angels and in the prophets through
whom God's revelations were made known. Muslims believe in life after
death and in accountability for one's actions.
4. Do Muslims believe in Jesus Christ
Muslims believe Jesus Christ was a great prophet. They do not believe
that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, the son of God.
5. Is there any connection between Muslims and Christianity?
Muslims trace their origins back to Abraham as do Jews and
Christians. They believe that Muhammad, their great prophet, was
descended from Abraham's son Ishmael and that Moses and Jesus were
descendents of Isaac. Muslims believe in many of the prophets of the
Old or First Testament as well as in the prophetic mission of John
the Baptist and Jesus Christ.
6. Who was Muhammad?
Muhammad was born in 570 and orphaned as a young child. As he grew up
people noticed that he was a truthful, generous and sincere person.
He was deeply religious and contemplative. He was known as a fair
arbitrator. According to Islamic belief when Muhammad was forty years
old he received his first revelation from God through the Angel
Gabriel. His revelations continued for 23 years. The revelations were
written down and formed the Islamic holy book or Qur'an (Koran). The
Qur'an has passages very similar to the Hebrew and Christian
scriptures, plus unique revelations that Muhammad received.
7. Do Christians believe in Muhammad?
Christians recognize Muhammad as a great religious leader. The
Catholic Church has a high regard for Muslims.
8. How do Muslims practice their religion?
There are five pillars in Islam:
One: The Creed The creed is very simple. Basically, it is as follows:
There is no god except God. Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Two: Prayer Prayer is central to Muslim religious practice. Muslims
pray five times a day: dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and
nightfall. Muslims pray in mosques or wherever they are. The prayers
are based on the Qur'an and said in Arabic, although personal
petitions are said in the vernacular.
Three: Fasting During the month of Ramadan Muslims fast from dawn
until sundown as a means of purification and as a way of identifying
with the hungry of the world. The Muslim calendar is based on a lunar
year. This year Ramadan begins toward the end of November.
Four: Purifying Tax (Zakat) Muslims believe that all things belong to
God and that possessions are a trust given to people. The "Purifying
Tax" is a way of exercising detachment from things as well as a way
of providing for the poor. It is similar to the concept of
stewardship or tithing in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Five: Pilgrimage The journey to Mecca is required once in a life
time, if it is possible. Mecca is in Saudi Arabia.
9. What are some other things unique to Muslims?
Muslims are restricted from eating pork or drinking alcoholic drinks.
Their weekly holy day is Friday. They worship in mosques. Three
mosques are particularly important: Mosque of Kaaba in Mecca, Mosque
of the Prophet Muhammad in Medina and Masjid Aqsa, next to the Dome
of the Rock in Jerusalem.
10. What have Muslims contributed to the quality of life in the
Since the early centuries of Islam, Muslims have made significant
contributions to society in the fields of medicine, chemistry,
mathematics, arts, poetry, spirituality and physics. Two well known
landmarks in Chicago, the Sears Tower and the John Hancock building
were designed by a Muslim architect.
11. Why is it that some people associate terrorism with Islam and
There are small groups of Muslims who have distorted the practice of
Islam and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad by choosing terror and
violence as a means of fighting perceived injustice. They are
extremists. This does not mean that all Muslims are violent killers.
The vast majority of Muslims oppose these violent acts. Just because
some Catholics and Protestants act violently in Northern Ireland does
not mean all Catholics and Protestants are violent. Most Christians
and Muslims live throughout the world in peace and harmony with their
neighbors. There are approximately 7,000,000 Muslims living as good
neighbors in the United States today.
12. What is the Taliban that we hear so much about these days?
The Taliban currently rules most of Afghanistan. The country has been
torn by civil war for the last thirty years. The rise of the Taliban
and the United States' role in this is complicated. The
word, `Taliban' in Arabic means "seekers of truth." The Taliban is an
extremist Islamic group that controls ninety percent of Afghanistan.
Their interpretation of Islam is not shared by the majority of
Islamic people. Under their interpretation of the "truth,"
television, dance, film, playing cards, chessboards, fashion
catalogues, neckties, photography, kite-flying, non-religious music
have been banned. Women cannot attend school or work and generally
receive little or no medical care. Famous statues of the giant
Buddhas have been destroyed. The majority of Islamic scholars call
the Taliban interpretation of Islam a gross distortion.
13. What are the causes of terrorism?
There is no easy answer to this question. Many acts of terrorism are
rooted in the experience of oppression and social injustice.
Terrorists choose to use violence to eradicate injustice rather than
political processes or non-violent approaches as Ghandi or Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. did.
14. How can terrorism be eliminated?
Terrorism can be eliminated by helping all people respect diversity,
working for social justice on a global scale and teaching effective
skills of dialogue, negotiation and non-violent ways to bring about
change. We must also continue to promote the sanctity and basic
dignity of all human beings in such a way that we grow in a global
respect and promotion of human dignity.
15. As Catholics what should our attitude and our relationship to
Nowhere is this better stated than in the teachings of the Second
"The Church has ... a high regard for Muslims. They worship God, who is
one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of
heaven and earth, who has spoken to men. They strive to submit
themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as
Abraham submitted himself to God's plan, to whose faith Muslims
eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they
venerate Jesus as a prophet. They honor his virgin Mother and even at
times devoutly invoke her. They highly esteem an upright life and
worship God especially by way of prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Over
the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between
Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to
forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve
mutual understanding; for the benefit of all, let them together
preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values."
(Nostra Aetate 3)
The info above comes from Blessed Are We. Once at the website, click on The Resource page, which features a paragraph about links,
including the one about Islam.
Posted by catholic_homeschool
at 23:52 EDT
Updated: October 9, 2003 00:19 EDT