From the Rector

In my role as Rector and Chaplain of Salesian College, I try to keep informed about the issues that are topical in our society. Not just issues of education, but also issues of conscience, of moral challenge, of influential leadership…

I find that the media in general are not very sympathetic to the Christian tradition and Gospel values on which our society is founded. Often I am staggered (and somewhat distressed) by the lack of factual information and the rather loose and selective reporting of the truth. The ignorance and the imbalance of some news items is unbelievable, and our inability to do anything to redress this situation is nothing but frustrating!

Recently I had the opportunity of reading a summary of a report entitled ‘Faith and Religion in the 21st Century’, published in England on behalf of the Churchill Foundation that offers a global leadership programme. This report argues strongly about the need to include religion in debates about strategic issues in society. One commentator suggested that leaders who ignore religion are doing a disservice to their constituents, and went so far as to state that “leaders and problem-solvers must have a high degree of religious literacy, but this is not evident”.

A Catholic school, like Salesian College, which prides itself in preparing leaders for the future, must be encouraged in its endeavour to offer a curriculum that includes the study of religion, and to form young leaders who are first and foremost “honest citizens and good Christians”, as Don Bosco used to say. Integrity, formation of an upright conscience, a social justice approach to life, and a concern for the poor and the excluded are an integral part of a Christian leader, and go together with religious literacy.

Secularism (which takes a hostile approach to all forms of religion) and relativism (which claims that everything goes and nothing has absolute and perennial value) are the “darling” philosophy of much of the media world. All this will lead to confusion, lack of respect, intolerant views, exploitation of the weak, corruption… Parents and educators must remain alert and reject this type of thinking and behaviour.

The report concludes by challenging all educational institutions to do more to offer religious literacy, because “by the serious engagement with religious groups, today’s and future leaders have a far better chance of bringing peace to a troubled world, alleviating poverty, and contributing to the common good”.

There is no greater challenge today than that of religious education!

Fr Frank Bertagnolli SDB