Response to The Daily Telegraph – 28 August 2020
How many inquiries has the church received about the draft policy?
We welcome the strong interest in Religious Education from community members and others. This is an important part of working together as a vibrant and diverse Catholic community.
As you would expect, there have been many inquiries in response to recent media coverage. Unfortunately, some of this coverage is not presenting the new curriculum accurately, particularly its teaching content.
The curriculum has been in development for years and there has been input and feedback from different groups including clergy, teachers, parents and students.
Will you guys release publicly the draft syllabus so parents and other members of the church can look at it?
The Draft New Curriculum is just that: a draft, subject to ongoing review. For these reasons, it had not been our intention to share it widely at this time. We’ll continue to work with parents and carers, clergy and others as an important part of developing this new approach. We look forward to launching a final version in 2021 and in responding to the feedback of our community.
The document has been shared and discussed with the project’s Parent Advisory Group and with all Priests in the Diocese.
Do you accept that the priest has dominion over their parish’s schools? Or does the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta have control over what is taught?
According to Canon Law, the role of the parish priest is to ensure that the content of Religious Education is true to Catholic teaching according to the norms laid down by the Diocese and the Bishop. The role of the education authority is to prepare and deliver the curriculum in schools.
Priests in the Diocese of Parramatta have been closely involved in consultation about the Draft New Curriculum for the past two years. As stated earlier, the document has been shared with the Priests in the Diocese and widely discussed. The process of creating the Draft New Curriculum will continue to be a collaboration between the Diocese and Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.
Will the policy undergo any changes in light of the firestorm of complaints from concerned parents?
The Draft New Curriculum remains a work in progress. It continues to evolve. Units are currently being trialled in schools. We welcome discussion of these important issues and will continue to provide opportunities for parents and carers, as well as clergy and teachers, to share their thoughts. This feedback will continue to inform any ongoing changes.
Why is the church trying to silence the priests who voice their opposition to it?
It is not the case that the Church is trying to silence opposition. We welcome discussion of these important issues. There are designated spokespeople on certain topics authorised to discuss issues with the media and speak on behalf of any organisation.
The Episcopal Vicar for Education and Formation, the Very Rev Christopher de Souza, has written to all Clergy, families and staff of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta schools on this very topic today.
Diocesan priests have been consulted and engaged throughout the lengthy process of development of this new curriculum. Of course, our vibrant and diverse Catholic community includes many perspectives, including from members of the clergy.