Articles

Adding diversity to the university

stained glass

Globally, there are 1,400 Catholic universities. They make a substantial contribution to the intellectual life of the Church. However, there are few Catholic higher education institutions in the UK. There is a reason for this. After the hierarchy was restored in England and Wales, the focus was on building schools and then churches without much thought being given to higher education. Indeed, most of our Catholic higher education institutions evolved from teacher training colleges.

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Competition and co-operation – they are not alternatives

If you ask most people – perhaps Christians especially – what the opposite of competition is, they will suggest it is co-operation. So often you hear the phrase “co-operation not competition”. But co-operation is not the opposite of competition. Monopoly is the opposite of competition. I do wonder if any of the people who call for co-operation rather than competition have ever tried to run a businesses without co-operating with others: it would not be a success.

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Covid and healthcare – why we must learn not to leave the disabled behind

Covid vaccination

At present I am waiting for my daughter’s Covid vaccination appointment. My daughter, now an adult, has profound severe multiple disabilities. She cannot tell me if she feels ill or in pain, and certainly not if she has lost her sense of smell. Like many people with disabilities, especially those with learning disabilities, when it comes to health and social care it is easy for my daughter to fall through the gaps.

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No salvation in fiscal policy

Yesterday, I ended a presentation to sixth-formers by commenting that nobody would want to be Rishi Sunak. Of course, in the strict sense that is not true – indeed, many of the people to whom I was talking might well have had ambitions to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. What I meant was that the Chancellor was facing the most difficult combination of circumstances of anybody in his position since the mid-1970s.

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Citizenship and Education

In this post I explore citizenship education through the lens of Catholic teaching on education. I also make reference to Pope Leo XIII’s teaching on citizenship. I show that there is such a thing as a Christian ‘idea’ of citizenship. This might not sit comfortably in a society which seeks to marginalise (intentionally or unintentionally), the Christian voice.

Citizenship, education and religion 

How citizenship education in the Catholic school is both understood and taught makes it a crucial feature of the contemporary educational scene.

 

Citizenship education flows from a political or civic desire to build community cohesion – universally deemed a ‘good thing’. How to promote, far less achieve, this in a multi-cultural society remains problematic.

 

For some, citizenship education is a ‘secular’ version of religious education: values emerge, it seems, from reason alone without a concomitant contribution from revealed religion. Although religious belief and practice should be fundamental parts of citizenship education, contemporary articulations of citizenship education minimise discussion of the difficult issues arising from religious faith or identity. Nonetheless, the number of children of all faiths and none who are educated in Catholic schools should place the Catholic school not at the margins but at the heart of citizenship education.

 

Religions, of course, are an expression of diversity. This leads to the following question: is contemporary education a means of monopolising thought and values within a conceptual framework which purports to be inclusive but, intentionally or otherwise, fails in this objective?

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The Real ‘Patria Grande’: Africa’s 55

As 2020 ended Pope Francis’s Fratelli tutti called with passion for the world to discover the energy to rediscover ‘lost dreams’. Building on his experience in Buenos Aires and his creation of a Pontifical Commission for Latin America to bring that region into the heart of the Roman Curia, he specifically suggested that a symbol of such a dream was a ‘patria grande’. The idea of ‘patria grande’, of course, has a long history in the Americas: part rallying cry of Simon Bolivar, part lament at the division of what had been ‘Spanish America’ and part radical social and economic project. Like many visions at scale it is fed by multiple sources.

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Darkness cannot seize the Light: O admirabile Commercium!

Light

It is sometimes tempting to think of Catholic social teaching as being based in political philosophy, informed, of course, by aspects of theology, whilst forgetting the transcendental aspects of our faith. We cannot, though, divorce any aspect of Christian endeavour from our understanding of God, the Christian mysteries and the incarnation. This includes consideration of the social teaching of the Church. However dark some aspects of the world are today, a light shines in the darkness! In that context, I thought that Fr. William Massie’s sermon at Christmas was an appropriate post on this blog. Fr. William is Catholic Chaplain at the University of Hull.

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