The changing ethos of Catholic schools

Shifting educational ethos

Due to population shifts, a Catholic primary school in northern England has found itself with 99 per cent of pupils who are Muslim. The solution promoted by the diocesan authorities is to transfer it to the Church of England.

- The Tablet

What does this say about the purpose of Catholic education establishments in general, asks The Tablet in an editorial.

Do they exist primarily to educate Catholic young people, and lose their raison d’être when there are not enough of them around? If the much-vaunted 'Catholic ethos' makes such a distinctive contribution, on what basis is it justified to withdraw that benefit from non-Catholic students? Fundamentally, what makes a school or college 'Catholic'? 

All over the world, Catholic educational institutions are grappling with that question, not least in North America where Catholic universities are such a feature of the campus landscape. The answers differ widely. There are successful schools in Britain where a large majority of both staff and pupils would call themselves Catholic. They see themselves as engaged in the production of the next generation of the faithful, though cynics might say they are in fact mainly ­producing the next generation of the lapsed. 

But in India, say, there are many Catholic-run schools and colleges, often the best in the area, where the great majority are Muslim or Hindu. Parents obviously do not fear their children will be 'converted.' They greatly prize whatever it is the Catholic ethos can bring, which may include, apart from the excellence of the education, resistance to the increasing sexual free-for-all that they fear is pervading Indian society. 

Catholic educationalists are familiar with the idea of educating the whole person and respecting every facet of human dignity, expressed in the phrase - from Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio – 'integral human development.'

FULL STORY End of the ethos  (The Tablet)

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