dialogueChris Richardson

Catholic schools are often identified as places of dialogue between culture and faith and faith and life. This article explores what dialogue entails and some of the opportunities for dialogue that exist with our schools. Chris Richardson is a retired Catholic secondary headteacher and diocesan commissioner. He is currently an associate lecturer in Catholic school leadership at St Mary's University, Twickenham.

A new orientation
Orientating the Church towards dialogue was one of the major achievements of Vatican II.1  It marked a radical departure from what had gone immediately before. Even fifty years earlier, advocating dialogue within the Church, let alone with those outside it, would have been considered ridiculous. The prevailing view was that the Church possessed 'the truth' and had a duty to make that truth known, shining the light of truth on those with whom it came into contact. What could the Church learn from those who did not possess the truth? Error had nothing to teach believers and, indeed, was a source of danger for them. This is well illustrated, for example, in the Church's attitude to the ecumenical movement. After World War I Catholics were forbidden from involvement in the developing ecumenical movement. As late as 1948 Pope Pius XI regarded the Mother Church's ecumenical objective as recalling her erring sons (sic) and leading them back to her bosom (Mortalium Animos n. 4).

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