The Christian Theology (CT) department of St Martin’s Ampleforth is responsible for forming students academically in the intellectual, moral and spiritual tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.
The CT department aims at academic excellence, stretching the differing ability of each student, and demanding the disciplined study required for any public examination.
The CT department, respecting the beliefs of non-Catholic students and the consciences of all, hopes to communicate and share a lively, articulate and critically aware Christian faith.
This statement makes clear that the principal function of the department is academic, though it is hoped that the work of the department has an effect beyond its immediate responsibility, beyond examination results and academic knowledge, on the faith and lives of students. This accords with the ‘Statement on religious education in Catholic Schools’ of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales of 4 May 2000: ‘The specific contribution to the life of the Catholic School of classroom RE is primarily educational’.
For some, religious education may well serve as catechesis and for others it may be evangelisation; nevertheless it is not judged by its fulfilment of evangelistic or catechetical aims: ‘its primary purpose is the step by step study of the mystery of Christ, the teaching of the Church and its application in daily life’. In understanding its aims, the department looks both to the Curriculum Directory of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales and to the assessment criteria in religious studies found in the assessment objectives of the ISEB.
The Curriculum Directory asks those involved in religious education to produce: ‘religiously literate young people who have the knowledge, understanding and skills – appropriate to their age and capacity – to think spiritually, ethically and theologically, and who are aware of the demands of religious commitment in everyday life.’