‘Religious education is more than just one subject in the curriculum. In Catholic schools it is the core of the “core curriculum”’.
(Pope St. John Paul II, 1988)
At the heart of Catholic education lies the Christian vision of the human person. This vision is explored in religious education (RE) making RE the core subject in a Catholic school. The specific contribution to the life of the Catholic school of curriculum RE is primarily educational. Its primary purpose is to draw pupils into a systematic study of Catholic Christianity and to explore the contribution of Christianity and other religions to culture, personal commitment and action in everyday life.
The Religious Education Curriculum Directory (RECD 2012) makes the aims of Religious Education explicit:
- To present a comprehensive content which is the basis of knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils continually to deepen their religious and theological understanding and be able to communicate this effectively;
- To present an authentic vision of the Church’s moral and social teaching so that pupils can make a critique of the underlying trends in contemporary culture and society;
- To raise pupils’ awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities in order to respect and understand them;
- To develop the critical faculties of pupils so that they can relate their Catholic faith to daily life;
- To stimulate pupils’ imagination and provoke a desire for personal meaning as revealed in the truth of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils to relate the knowledge gained through Religious Education to their understanding of other subjects in the curriculum;
- To bring clarity to the relationship between faith and life, and between faith and culture.
The outcome of excellent Religious Education is religiously literate and engaged young people who have the knowledge, understanding and skills – appropriate to their age and capacity – to reflect spiritually, and think ethically and theologically, and who are aware of the demands of religious commitment in everyday life (RECD 2012 p6).