THE Anglican Centre in Rome is working with the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee (ARCC) in the UK to identify and address some of the issues raised by ecumenical schooling. These include how to invite pupils to make the sign of the cross, whether the doxology should be said after the Lord’s Prayer, and whether to have both a Roman Catholic and an Anglican eucharist in school.
A working party of ten members met in Rome, in May, to compare current guidance — a briefing document issued by ARCC to the bishops, clerics, education specialists, and parents of the two Churches — and their own experience.
The group included chaplains, head teachers and deputy headteachers, and heads of religious education at primary, middle, and secondary schools in Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Merseyside, and Berkshire. It was led by the diocese of Chester’s representative for the Anglican Centre, Canon Jane Brooke, who chairs the association for advisers and inspectors of religious education.
She said last week: “The ARCC document was considered carefully by two advisers, but it was agreed that it needed to be rewritten to match current education policies; so we are leaving that to the Churches — though at least one teacher was keen to be involved in future discussions.”
The working group has instead drafted a report, Christ at the Centre: Life in all its fullness, to highlight the differences between inter-Church schools on worship, religious education, and the part played by chaplains, and inform future guidance. It also expressed a desire to have an agreed inspection framework for all interchurch schools around the country.
“The teachers were enthusiastic and honest in their evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of working in an interchurch school,” Canon Brooke said. “Roman Catholic and Anglican dialogue starts in schools, with young people understanding each other in a safe, challenging environment.”
The session was attended by the outgoing director of the Anglican Centre, Archbishop David Moxon (News, 16 June), and the incoming director, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi. Once approved by the C of E and the RC Church, the report is to be circulated to joint church schools in the UK.
Archbishop Moxon said: “The joint schools require a win-win attitude from each partner all the time at every level from everyone. Each communion's integrity must be carefully respected in detail for the shared educational mission to work.
“This is what we pray and plan for as we seek to repair the bridge that fell between us over 400 years ago. In the life of the joint schools, this bridge is rebuilt, is up, and carrying such precious traffic as the next generation of young Roman Catholics and Anglicans.”
It comes after a conference for interchurch schools was held at Chester Cathedral, in November last year, organised by Canon Brooke. It was attended by the RC Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Revd Malcolm McMahon; the chief education officer of the Church of England, the Revd Nigel Genders; and the director of the Catholic Education Service, Paul Barber.