Agora for Spiritual, Moral and Religious Education








Full version of the paper

Re-contextualising Catholic school Religious Education: Educating young people spiritually, morally and religiously for the 21 st century Graham Rossiter

Shortened version of the paper published in International Studies in Catholic Education

A shortened version of the study has been published in International Studies in Catholic Education, 2020, Vol. 12 (2) 191-205.

Addressing the problem of ‘Ecclesiastical drift' in Catholic Religious Education

Some free access e-prints of the published article are currently available.

The powerpoint presentation (linked below) is the summary presentation of key points in the paper at the International Conference on Religious Education in Catholic Schools, Melbourne, February 10-14, 2020

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Powerpoint Summary: Re-contextualising Catholic school Religious Education: Educating young people spiritually, morally and religiously for the 21 st century Graham Rossiter

The powerpoint presentation plays with commentary and automatic slide progression when started as a slide show.

It may be easier to play an mp4 video showing the presentation.

What the paper is about

Philip Phenix's (1964) book Realms of meaning: A philosophy of the curriculum for general education started the ever growing movement concerned with how school education might help young people in their search for meaning, purpose and values in times of rapid cultural change. Today, in globalised, digital, secularised culture, the importance and urgency of this role have never been greater – accentuated even more by the world-wide social change in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Religious Education, with core curriculum status in Catholic schools, has both credentials and precedents for studying directly the contemporary human quest for meaning to help resource the spirituality of young people, no matter what their religious disposition. But a ‘course correction' is needed for the discourse of Catholic Religious Education which has ‘drifted' almost so exclusively into ecclesiastical terminology that its educational credibility as a valuable spiritual/moral school subject has been eroded, creating an ever widening discontinuity with the realities of the classroom and young people's spirituality. The problem has been labelled 'ecclesiastical drift'. A more outward-looking and less Catholic-centric emphasis would help, without neglecting commitment to the faith tradition. While concerned with the Australian Catholic sector, the paper may well have relevance to other countries and contexts.

For further reflective commentary and discussion

Readers may contribute any commentary on the questions raised here. Send your contribution to and it will be added to a blog accessed from this page..

For information and preliminary results of an empirical investigataion of the problem of ecclesiastical drift

Click here for access to information about the survey for educators (also for senior school students) together with the preliminary research report.

For any questions/inquiries about the above,
contact Professor Graham Rossiter, Email:

Click here for the Home page of ASME with other study materials on Religious Education