Presenting Catholic History and Culture

VANCOUVER SYNOD STUDY COMMISSION ON TEACHING THE FAITH

4/ Utilize in our schools, textbooks and other resources that represent Catholic history and Catholic culture.
The Catholic school strives to relate all human culture eventually to the news of salvation, so that the life of faith will illumine the knowledge which students gradually gain of the world, of life, and of humankind (Vatican II, Declaration on Christian Education, par. 8).
It is a well-established principle of modern, multi-cultural education that individuals belonging to different racial and ethnic groups are strengthened in their own identity and in their sense of self-worth when they receive an education in the unique traditions, distinctive understandings, and positive accomplishments of their own group.

Catholics similarly will be strengthened in their Catholic identity if they are educated in the rich traditions of the Church and in the remarkable moral, cultural, and intellectual contributions it has made to the betterment of mankind. Lacking specifically Catholic resources — for example in the areas of history and social studies — our Catholic schools have had to employ public school resources that often leave our Christian history short-changed and all too often denigrate the Catholic contribution.


It is recommended therefore that we:

Action items:
  • Locate teaching resources and develop teaching units that accurately represent the Catholic perspective and contribution and integrate these resources with the teaching materials already in use in our schools.

  • Ensure that religion is taught in our schools — not as an isolated subject alongside other subject areas — but in dialogue with them, in an inter-disciplinary way. Our own Catholic perspective and the contribution of Catholics and the Church should infuse the history, social studies, literature, arts, health and science courses offered in our schools. To this end university level courses and workshops should be developed in the different subject areas so that all Catholic teachers are made aware of the Catholic intellectual/artistic tradition in their own discipline.

  • Set up a committee to review and recommend resources which, while fulfilling curriculum requirements set by the Department or Ministry of Education, also fulfill the above requirements for Catholic education.

  • Commit sufficient time, at all levels of catechesis and education, to explain the Church's position on the critical social and moral issues of the day, especially those 'hot button' topics in which the Church's position is regularly misrepresented, frequently disparaged, and not uncommonly ridiculed, e.g. capital punishment, globalization, uncontrolled capitalism, environmental issues, AIDS, abortion, euthanasia, contraception, population control, chastity, homosexuality, women's issues, etc. Particularly in our own time — when it is not so much the Catholic faith, as the moral and social teachings derived from that faith which are under attack — we need to prepare our Catholic young people for engagement in the world by providing them with effective apologetics derived from a sound Christian anthropology. This education is aimed at making our young people informed, proactive, and responsible rather than reactionary.

  • Develop appropriate teaching resources capable of arming Catholic students with cogent arguments, anecdotal evidence, and basic social and natural science research in support of the Church's social and moral teaching.

  • Develop teaching units to address those historical events that have been made into stock arguments against the truth claims of the Church, most notably: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Galileo affair, the Church's position on the theory of evolution and its relation to science, and the Church's role in the conquest of the New World. Apologetic materials developed in response to these historical issues should, of course, never be used to excuse those real wrongs committed by Church members in the past who failed to live up to the high demands of Christian living.

 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

These recommendations are taken from the "Synod Study Paper on Teaching the Faith", prepared for the Vancouver Archdiocesan Synod in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. This document was the working paper and formed the basis for one of the final documents of the Synod, "Teaching the Faith".

Next: Educate the Educators; Catechize the Catechists




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