The Catholic University of America

Final Examination

Matthew William Halbach

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2:00p.m., Caldwell Hall, Room 125




The Conceptual Evolution of “Evangalization” and “Catechesis,” from the General Catechetical Directory (1971) to the General Directory for Catechesis (1997): Tracing the Path Towards the “New Evangalization”


Director: Rev. Raymond Studzinski, O.S.B., Ph.D.


The General Catechetical Directory (GCD) and the General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) provide the Church with pastoral guidelines for the work of catechesis. Though both have contributed much to the development of the meanings of the terms “evangelization” and “catechesis,” the relationship between the two requires further clarification. Until now, there has not been a comparative analysis of the two directories regarding these terms. Such an analysis is critical for understanding the theoretical distinctions between evangelization and catechesis which, as the directories attest, often go unappreciated in pastoral practice (e.g. GCD, no. 18; GDC, no. 62). These distinctions are vital for the development of future catechetical methodologies in the context of “new evangelization,” a term popularized during the pontificates of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis.

Through comparative analysis, this dissertation investigated the nature, contexts, and aims of evangelization and catechesis as they are found in the GCD (1971), Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975), Catechesi Tradendae (1979), and the GDC (1997). The findings of the analysis point to an evolving relationship between evangelization and catechesis such that the two can be described as: (1) related but distinct (2) sharing the same purpose (3) mutually beneficial (4) and co-evolving.

The above characteristics exist in nature within a symbiotic relationship between two species. Moreover, in order to sustain symbiosis, evolution in one species requires a corresponding evolution in the other. Applying symbiosis as a model for understanding the relationship between evangelization and catechesis, one can conclude that future developments in the nature, contexts and aims of one must produce corresponding developments in the other. Therefore, this dissertation proposed the features of “new evangelization” as a framework for a “new catechesis.”