The promotion of community cohesion is central to Catholic education. This is the continuing message from a new publication Catholic Schools, Children of Other Faiths and Community Cohesion: Cherishing Education for Human Growth, launched by the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Around 30% of pupils in Catholic schools are not of the Catholic faith and this document addresses many of the questions that arise in the experience of educating children of different faith backgrounds in our schools. Catholic Schools, Children of Other Faiths and Community Cohesion uses the language of different “ecologies” – the environments in which human beings flourish – to show how the Catholic school assists all of its pupils in achieving their potential by “loving tenderly”, “acting justly” and “walking humbly”.
The publication follows on from the 1997 Bishops’ Conference consultation paper Catholic Schools and Children of Other Faiths, the 2007 Pastoral Letter on Catholic Schools and the 2008 publication Catholic Schools and Community Cohesion: CES Guidance.
In his foreword to this new publication, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Education and Formation says:
‘Dialogue with other faiths is a consistent theme in the life of the Catholic Church. Such dialogue is conducted in many parishes and neighbourhoods, in colleges, universities and other academic circles. It has become increasingly important as the presence of other faith communities grows and becomes more evident in our society.’
‘[This publication] is offered to our schools in the hope that the good work already being done in them for children and young people of other faiths can be further strengthened and so that the lives of all our pupils, students and staff can be enriched.’
Oona Stannard, Chief Executive and Director of the CESEW said, ‘I am confident that schools will find the new publication helpful as we live out our clear vision of Catholic education, increasingly undertaken with those of other faiths in our midst. It provides a clear theological rationale for our distinctly Catholic approach, rooted in the obligation to love tenderly, act justly and walk humbly.’