European Catholic religion teachers' forum in Madrid
Alberto Campoleoni - SIR Europe (Madrid)
The teaching of religion and social cohesion in Europe: proposals for teachers’ formation”. This is the theme of the 15th European Forum for the teaching of religion in European schools, scheduled to take place in Madrid from April 11 to 15. The meeting is proposed by the European Forum for Religious Education in Schools (EUFRES), which over the past years has promoted occasions for reflection on the primary role of religious education in European schools, in the framework of the “varying importance” given to the subject at national level. In a multi-faceted context, EUFRES seeks to identify all those features that make school education an important contribution to citizens’ education and to the building of Europe. This is the core of the issue. European societies are marked by differences according to the importance ascribed to religion in the public arena, in particular as regards religious education in schools. The research carried out by CCEE (Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences) together with CEI (Italian Bishops’ Conference), alongside with many other study projects on the situation of the Continent, has shown that the teaching of religion contributes to the positive development of young generations in Europe and plays an important role in the recognition of the fundamental rights of individuals for the progress of societies, for freedom and social inclusion. Not all national scenarios are homogeneous, sometimes pressures oppose the presence of religion and Churches in the public sphere, or in other situations, the confessional dimension is expanded, conflicting with the need for laicity, which in Europe is felt very strongly. In this framework the awareness of the protagonists of the school environment, notably those involved in ensuring religious education, starting with the Churches – the most widespread presence capable of ensuring confessional education in many European countries - is of special importance. Educative dynamics, the respect for laicism, and the quality of teaching have strong, inevitable repercussions on the problem of teachers’ formation. This, is in fact one of the “challenges” highlighted in the recent CCEE-CEI report and final document, which called upon the Churches, to devote special attention to teachers of religion, identifying the new educational needs. These and other issues will be discussed in Madrid. Most importantly, the meeting will provide the opportunity, with the direct contribution of European scholars, to determine the latest developments and trends. It is a step forward in the direction of a school and a European society that increasingly acknowledges the human person in all of his dimensions.