Law academic attends World Catholic Education congress in Vatican City

Dr Joan Squelch attended the World Congress on Catholic Education – ‘Educating Today and Tomorrow. A Renewing Passion’ at the Vatican City and Castel Gandolfo

10 December 2015

Exploring religious education and the law was behind a recent visit to the Vatican City by Dr Joan Squelch, an Associate Professor in The University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Law, Fremantle.

Dr Squelch chaired a session on Church and State relations at the World Congress on Catholic Education – ‘Educating Today and Tomorrow. A Renewing Passion’ at the Vatican City and Castel Gandolfo.

Dr Squelch, a specialist in the area of education law, attended the World Congress by invitation of the European Association for Education Law and Policy (ELA). The ELA sessions focused on a number of key issues relating to the right to education, the right to religious freedom, religious education in public and private schools, secularism and pluralism, church – state relations, and the many legal challenges facing Catholic schools and universities in a global context.

“It was an honour for me to chair a session and facilitate a dynamic discussion on church/state relations in education that included interesting and thought-provoking papers by presenters from the USA, Hungry, Estonia, Greece and Russia,” Dr Squelch said.

The Catholic Education Congress, organised by the Congregation for Catholic Education, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Gravissimum Educationis and the 25th anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

The Congress provided an opportunity to reflect on these two seminal documents and to consider guidelines and recommendations to meet new challenges. A main object of the Congress was to provide Catholic schools, universities and educational institutions a ‘space for dialogue and debate on the challenges that the contemporary educational crisis poses to society, to educational systems, and to the Church’.

The extensive program presented over four days covered diverse international and comparative topics on education in Catholic schools and universities. Presentations also provided commentary and analysis on responses to an international survey on current challenges for Catholic schools and universities in the world today. The survey is part of the Instrumentum Laboris ‘Educating Today and Tomorrow. A Renewing Passion’ published in 2014, which formed the context for the Congress.

“A highlight of the Congress and a very moving experience was attending the closing session at which Pope Francis engaged in interviews and dialogue with delegates,” Dr Squelch said.

“It was also an immense privilege and humbling experience to attend several special private masses with friends from the Catholic Education Commission WA and Catholic Education WA that were conducted by Bishop Gerard Holohan of Bunbury, in the most beautiful and awe-inspiring chapels in the grottos of St Peter’s Basilica.”

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;