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?


Catholic Social Thought in Education – Building the Collegium

Three Students look and laugh at a laptop

The term “Catholic social thought” would normally bring about discussion of issues related to politics, social and welfare policy, overseas aid and climate change, to name just a few well-trodden contemporary topics. Schooling is often thought of as a topic separate from Catholic social teaching, perhaps because of the large volume of distinct work produced on this topic by dioceses and the Vatican. However, the same issues apply to schooling as apply to (for example) healthcare. There are questions of the policy framework we should have for its delivery (the Church teaches that Catholic schools should not be discriminated against, as compared with state schools, when it comes to funding); who has responsibility (the principle of subsidiarity applies); how we should ensure that all children have an adequate education; and so on. This short piece will sketch out two further ways in which Catholic social thought could profitably influence the global networks of Catholic schools.

© Catholic Social Thought 2020