Tuesday 05 September 2023 - 16:28:11

Foundations of
Catholic Identity
About the ECSI Research Group

Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven

Academic Teacher's Training in Religion
Promotional video:

Thomas Website for religious education in Flanders

Partners and Endorsers MOOC on edX

Meet the ECSI Team

Promotor: Prof. Dr. Didier Pollefeyt

Didier Pollefeyt (1965) is a full professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven. He is the chair of the Academic Center for Teacher Training in Religion, the director of the Center for Peace Ethics, and the initiator and promoter of Enhancing Catholic School Identity (ECSI).

Principal Researcher: Drs. Jan Bouwens

Jan Bouwens (1978) has studied philosophy in both Antwerp and Amsterdam, and theology in Leuven. Since 2007, he has held the position of chief academic researcher for Enhancing Catholic School Identity at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven.

ECSI Research Associates:
Elies Van Noten, MA
Emily Lockey, MA
Mary Budde, MA
Stijn Van Baekel, BA

Overview of research groups 2007-2021
Up-to-date summary of all Catholic schools and other organisations that were researched by means of the ECSI methodology.

Search for identity and meaning

Human anthropology in a context of plurality (fragile hermeneutical space)

In contexts of religious and philosophical plurality, it is important to understand that each individual human person engages is one’s own searching for spirituality, meaning and identity.  For Christians in Catholic schools, this is a search in relationship with the living Christ, a community and a faith tradition, and in dialogue with others.  For others in Catholic schools, this is a search in relation to their own religious and philosophical traditions.

 Further Reading

RecontextualiSation of the faith tradition

School missiological identity in a context of plurality and secularisation (Melbourne Scale)

Catholic schools face challenging questions regarding the prominence and salience of the living Catholic faith tradition in contexts of advancing social secularisation, increasing personal disaffiliation and disengagement with religious traditions, and expanding religious and philosophical diversity.

Against this backdrop, a school’s theological mission takes shape in many different ways: traditional confessional identity, education in Christian values, secularisation, reconfessionalisation and recontextualisation. The Melbourne Scale offers both the theoretical framework and theological optimal position.

Informational video Further Reading

A Post-Critical Faith-Understanding

Faith and religious belief in a context of plurality (PCB Scale)

Post-Critical Belief stands for a symbolic affirmation of faith contents. It is characterized by faith in a transcendent God and in a religious interpretation of reality in which the transcendent is not considered literally present but is represented symbolically. God is the Other to whom we relate through a symbolical representation. Faith is acquired through the active, creative, and interpretative handling of mediations. 

To believe is a continuous process of symbol-interpretation; the revelation of new layers of significance in the symbolic relationship with God. Post-Critical Belief is a continuous ‘searching for’ religious significance and meaning without ever finding a final, absolute, established, and certain answer. Symbolic believers live with the existential tension between uncertainty and trust. They feel called to constantly question the religious contents and personal convictions from which they live. They are prepared for reinterpretation, are open to change, and are receptive of complex faith questions that feed the hermeneutical process. Post-critical believers have an essential openness and receptivity vis-à-vis other religious perspectives and practices.

Informational video Further Reading

Identities in Dialogue

Pedagogical school identity options in a plural context (Victoria Scale)

The Catholic Dialogue School is typified by a combination of maximal Christian identity with maximal solidarity. It concerns a Catholic school in the middle of cultural and religious plurality in which both Catholics and other-believers can develop themselves maximally. 

A Dialogue School explicitly chooses to emphasize its Catholic inspiration and individuality through and thanks to a hermeneutical-communicative dialogue with the multicultural society. The multiplicity of voices, views, and perspectives, is recognized as a positive contribution to an open Catholic school environment. Receptivity and openness to what is different is a chance to re-profile the Catholic faith amidst contemporary plurality (recontextualisation). A preferential option for the Catholic message sets the tone for this dialogue.

Informational video Further Reading

SearchING for Parish Engagement (SPES Scale)

The SPES Scale is a pastoral instrument, developed by dr. Brendan Reed, an Australian parish priest and Doctor in Theology. The purpose of SPES is to provide parishes and pastoral workers with a framework for understanding their contemporary cultural context and a diagnostic tool through which the views of their parish can be examined and responses prepared for the future.

Informational Video Further Reading Spes website 

NEW: Bridging The Gap Survey 2021

Quantitative and qualitative research on the religious and worldview profile of young adults between 18 and 25 years old in Flanders and Australia.

This survey has been successfully administered to 1119 respondents in Flanders in 2020. Next, it will be filled in by students of ACU in Australia during the fourth school term in 2021.

DOWNLOAD the survey as PDF