Roman Catholics: Catechism in Dutch

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Catechism in Dutch

Some Roman Catholic prelates have done all they could to discourage U.S. circulation of the Dutch catechism (TIME, Aug. 18), a lively, undogmatic compendium of doctrine that reflects the most recent radical insights of theologians and scripture scholars. First the Roman Curia ordered a thorough study of the Dutch original to make sure that it contained no errors. Then Bishop Robert F. Joyce of Burlington, Vt., withdrew his imprimatur (permission to publish) from the American edition, and Holland's Bernard Jan Cardinal Alfrink complained that the book was going to press with an unauthorized use of his original imprimatur. Finally, Los Angeles' crusty James Francis Cardinal Mclntyre banned it from the church-run bookstore in his archdiocese. The stores operated by Boston's Daughters of St. Paul also refused to display it.

Nonetheless, the Dutch catechism has become one of the year's religious bestsellers. Herder & Herder, publisher of the American edition, reports that its first printing of 75,000 copies was sold out in three weeks. Although the National Conference of Catholic Bishops this month decided that the catechism should not be used in parochial schools, some Catholic colleges have ordered it for their religion courses. What was written for the Dutch is apparently destined to instruct the world. In The Netherlands, where the catechism has sold more than 400,000 copies so far, its publishers report that ten new translations will go to press in 1968.