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Catholic Identity

"I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly."

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ACCOMPANY - To respect the ‘sacred ground’ of the other and to journey with a steady gaze of faith with another. 

AMBIGUITY - Something that can have more than one meaning.

ANALOGY - Comparison between things of a similar nature.

ANTHROPOLOGY - The study of humankind.

APOCRYPHA - The religious writings of the ancient Jews and Christians that are not included in the Bible that is books that are not considered canonical. There are some books in the Catholic Bible that Jews and Protestants regard as apocryphal.

APPROPRIATION - The taking of the identity or customs of another.

ASSESSMENT - The process of gathering and interpreting information about student learning. This is done for a variety of purposes.


BEFORE COMMON ERA - An inclusive alternative (B.C.E.) to dating the years before the birth of Jesus. It is used as an alternative to B.C. For dates after the birth of Jesus the term C.E. (Common Era) is used.

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CANONICAL - (1) Referring to the Canon of the Bible, meaning the list of books the Church accepts as sacred because they are inspired by God. (2) Canon Law, whereby the law of the Church recognizes and authorises a teaching or practice of the Church.

CANON LAW - The official collection of Church laws which was last revised and promulgated in 1983.

CATECHESIS - The process of handing on the Gospel message. It presupposes that the hearer is receiving the Christian message as a saving reality. Moreover, it takes place within a community of faith.

CATECHISM - A text which summarises the Christian truths usually in question and answer form.

CATECHUMENATE - Since the Second Vatican Council the catechumenate describes the period of preparation for adults in preparation for reception into the Church.

CATHOLIC DIALOGUE SCHOOL - A school that, through dialogue with the other, seeks to re-discover its own identity and to bring the Christian voice to the conversation.

CATHOLIC TRADITION - Tradition is the process by which the faith is handed on and also that which is handed on: the teachings, beliefs and practices of Catholicism.

CATHOLIC WORLDVIEW - An approach that sees the world through the lens of the Catholic Tradition.

CECV (Catholic Education Commission of Victoria) - The CECV acts as the overarching, strategic planning and policy-making body for the Catholic school system in Victoria.

CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES - An alternative naming of what is commonly known as the New Testament of the Bible. This avoids some of the difficulties associated with using the words Old and New and, together with the use of Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), highlights the origins of the two sections.

CHRISTIAN VALUES EDUCATION - Education, in Christian values which are also universally recognisable values, that tries to link a generally shared moral way of life with Christian faith. This can lead to a watering down of the Catholic faith.

COMMON ERA - An inclusive alternative (C.E.) to dating the years after the birth of Jesus. It is used as an alternative to A.D. The partner term to this for the dates before Jesus is Before the Common Era (B.C.E.).

COMMUNION - Communion is derived from the Latin communio, meaning fellowship or a common sharing. It refers to both the sharing of the Eucharist and the sharing in Christian community.

CONCILIAR (TEACHING) - Relating to a teaching that has emerged from a Council of the Church.

CONGREGATION - The people of a Christian community who gather together for worship. It also refers to a community of men or women who have taken simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, e.g. Sisters of Mercy, Marist Brothers. This is sometimes known as a Religious Order.

CONSCIENCE - The human capacity to evaluate and choose a moral course of action that is in accordance with the presence of God’s Spirit in our lives and the Church’s teaching.

CONSTITUTIVE ELEMENT - A particular component of something greater.

CONSUMERISM - A theory that refers to a society that is oriented toward excessive acquisition of goods.

CONTEMPLATIVE - Involving deep reflection and contemplation/ a life stance.

CONTENT STRAND - A grouping of concepts which helps provide structure to the syllabus. In this syllabus there are six strands: Scripture, Trinity, Church and Tradition, Sacraments, Prayer/Discernment, Christian Morality and Social Justice and (for secondary students) Religion and Society and Texts and Traditions.

CONTEXTUAL - Depending on or relating to the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea.

CONTINGENT - Dependent on their historical situation or context and therefore conditional.

COVENANT - A promise, contract, binding agreement or pact. In the Biblical context God made a covenant with the people of Israel. Through baptism, Christians bind themselves to Jesus in the new covenant.

COVENANTAL - Describes a type of love or relationship having a shared and binding commitment.

CONVERSION - In the religious context, a change of heart leading to a change of belief or religion; a turning towards God.

CREATION THEOLOGY - A form of belief, expressed in theological terms that makes sense of how the world is created and deals with issues concerning the universe, all of life, and especially humans, in terms of God’s creation, its protection and flourishing.

CURRENCY - A state of being, or an understanding, that is known or accepted in many places.

CURRICULUM - A term covering all of the arrangements made by a school to foster student learning and development. It is sometimes used more specifically to refer to a particular discipline or organised content area with relevant outcomes and learning experiences, as in the Religious Education curriculum.

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DEHUMANISE - To undermine the human dignity of a person or people by policies and practices.

DETRADITIONALISATION - A social theory that refers to the erosion of the tradition in religion and people’s connectedness to religion with the effect that tradition is no longer seamlessly passed on from one generation or community to the next.

DIALOGUE - Valuable, constructive and open communication, emphasising respect for, openness towards, and listening to the voice of the other and where all involved come to a deeper sense of self.

DIALOGICAL PEDAGOGY - A way of learning based upon dialogue.

DISAFFIRMATION - A denial of any transcendent or ultimate reality.

DISCERNMENT - A reflective approach to identifying life and faith choices.

DISCIPLESHIP - This is a term used to describe the following of Jesus in service to his mission. It is a way of life that must involve faith, risk, hope, and a willingness to speak out in urgent, self-sacrificing and counter-cultural ways to promote the message and values of the Good News of the Gospel.

DISPOSITIONS - The inherent qualities of mind and character of a person.

DOCTRINE - Something that is taught. The doctrine of the Church includes the beliefs and teachings that are based on the person and work of Jesus.

DOCTRINAL CONCEPT - The expression of Church doctrine within a conceptual framework.

DOGMA - An article of faith that is part of the solemn teaching of the Popes and Ecumenical Councils, for example, the teaching that Jesus Christ is both Divine and Human is a dogma of the Church.

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ECCLESIAL - Of or relating to the Church.

ECOLOGY - A branch of biology that explores the balance of relationships between all creatures and their environment.

ECUMENISM - The efforts by the Roman Catholic community and other Christian churches to work towards the full unity willed by Christ among all baptised peoples in the world.

EMPIRICAL - Verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

ENCOUNTER - A moment of revelatory experience of the presence of God in our lives. To not just see, but really look at the other; to have compassion for the other.

ESCHATOLOGY - This is the part of theology that considers the final things or the end time – death, the second coming of Jesus Christ, judgement, heaven, purgatory, and hell.

EVALUATION - The process of gathering and reflecting on information about the effectiveness of policies, programs, units and teaching practices. Its purpose is to improve the quality of planning, pedagogy and learning.

EVANGELISATION - Bringing the Good News of the Gospel to all aspects of human society and, through its influence, transforming culture from within.

EVANGELISING - The act of evangelisation: from the Greek ‘evangelion’ meaning to share the Good News of Jesus and the Gospel with the idea of inviting them to faith.

EVANGELISING MISSION - The work of proclaiming the Gospel message in order to carry out and continue the work of Jesus on earth and bring people to faith.

EXEMPLAR - A model or example.

EXISTENTIAL TRANSFORMATION - An openness to a deeper faith response to God.

EXTERNAL CRITIQUE - A literal non-believing position in which religious belief is rejected as irrational.

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FIRST NAÏVETÉ (see also SECOND NAÏVETÉ) - Described by Paul Ricoeur as a way of meaning making that accepts, for example, a scripture text as a literal text. As a result of growth in faith and life the move to SECOND NAÏVETÉ means that, for example, a scripture text is interpreted in light of the context of the time and a deeper symbolic meaning can be read from the text.

FRATERNAL - Brotherly


GLOBALISATION - The process by which organisations develop international influence and/ or operate on an international scale.

GOD’S SELF-COMMUNICATING REVELATION - An expression used by theologian Karl Rahner to describe how God is revealed throughout history and human culture. God’s definitive revelation has been through the person of Christ, God becoming human.

GOSPEL VALUES - Are what Jesus said, what Jesus did and what He told us to do. All of the Gospel values begin with, and derive from, Jesus Law of Love of God and of neighbour. These Gospel values give clear guidelines for our behaviour.

GRACE - The goodness and kindness of God’s presence to, and love for, each person, expressing itself in so many different ways as our journey of life and faith unfolds.

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HEBREW SCRIPTURES - An alternative naming of what is commonly known as the Old Testament of the Bible. This avoids some of the difficulties associated with using the words Old and New and, together with the use of Christian Scriptures (New Testament) highlights the origins of the two Testaments.

HERMENEUTICS - A method and theory of interpretation and meaning. For example, the particular lens that a reader might apply to the interpretation of the biblical text could be described as a hermeneutic.

HERMENEUTICAL COMMUNICATIVE MODEL - A model of Religious Education that involves the presentation of the Catholic faith and reflection on its meaning in dialogue with students.

HOST TRADITION - In the dialogue of beliefs and faith the Catholic Tradition is the host tradition into which all learners in Catholic schools are invited.


INALIENABLE DIGNITY - In the Christian context a dignity which cannot be taken or given away.

INCARNATE - Made manifest or visible. For example, in the Catholic Tradition, Jesus is described as the incarnation of God – God made human in the person of Jesus.

INCARNATED - Given human form.

INCARNATION - The central mystery of Christianity that God took on human nature in the person of Jesus Christ.

INCULTURATION - The acquisition of a culture – in this case the beliefs, symbols and rituals of the Catholic Tradition.

INDIVIDUALISATION - The separation of the individual from the group.

INFALLIBILITY - Freedom from every error, the quality of not making a mistake. In the Catholic Tradition this pertains to the teaching that, when applied to particular teachings about faith and morals, the Pope and Bishops cannot be in error. The teaching must be in accord with what has been revealed through Scripture and Tradition. Technically the only infallible statement made to date was the dogma of the Assumption in 1950.

INFIDELITY - The breaking of a promise to remain faithful to a partner.

INSPIRED - In the Catholic Tradition, the writers of the books in the Bible reveal religious truths and understandings and are viewed as ‘inspired’ by God, that is God is the true and real author.

INTEGRATION - The purposeful planning by teachers of strategies and learning experiences to enhance the quality and integrity of learning across different curriculum areas.

INTEGRAL - Being a necessary component to make whole.

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE - Conversation and dialogue between the Catholic Church and non- Christian religious traditions.

INTERTESTAMENTAL - The period (thought to be two centuries) between the composition of the last book of the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures and the first book of the New Testament/Christian Scriptures.

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JUDEO-CHRISTIAN - Used to link the historical roots in Judaism and Christianity.


KEY CONCEPT - A central idea that brings aspects of knowledge into a meaningful whole. It provides a broad ‘cognitive map’ which is useful in exploring related ideas.

KINGDOM OF GOD or Reign of God - The dynamic process towards fulfilment of God’s saving activity within all humanity and the universe. The Kingdom of God is present wherever people live in harmony with the will of God.


LITERAL BELIEF - The style of belief and meaning based on the literal interpretation of religious texts and statements. This believing attitude approaches Scriptures in an uncritical way.

LITERALISM - The tendency to take at face value; believe as fact.

LITERALIST MEANING - Adherence to the text as fact.


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LITERAL SENSE - The sense or meaning of a Biblical text as expressed by the author. To establish this sense you need to consider culture, audience and literary form used by the author.

LITURGY - The public worship of the Church, referring to the collection of actions, songs, and words that express the relationship of the assembled community. This is celebrated in the Eucharist and other Sacraments and Prayer of the Church.

LOCUS - The site where something occurs.


MAGISTERIUM - The communion between the Pope and the Bishops in their ministry of teaching and governing the church.

MANDATED - Officially approved and required.

MATERIALISM - A theory that things, or the purchase of things provide wellbeing, security and status.

MEDIATED - Experienced through a person or form.

MEDIATIONS - In this context, ongoing communication through Scripture and Tradition.

METAPHOR - Figure of speech in which a word or phrase is used in place of another to suggest a likeness.

MODERATOR - The teacher serving as a guiding companion, within the class, for the ongoing formation of the identity of each student.

MONO-CORRELATIONAL - Looking at human experience through a single lens.

MONOCULTURE - The single or dominant culture.

MULTI-CORRELATIONAL - More than one way to look at human experience.

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NEW EVANGELISATION - New Evangelisation continues the clear and unequivocal proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ, that is, the preaching of his name, his teaching, his life, his promises and the Kingdom which he has gained for us through the Paschal Mystery. This is done with new zeal, new methods, new expressions, new form and new strategies.


ORIGINAL SIN - The Christian doctrine of original sin teaches that every person is born into a world greatly affected by sinfulness, and that each person has an inclination to personal sin. The term ‘original sin’ is not found in Scripture. It is a theological phrase developed during the early centuries of Christianity. In the Book of Genesis, the story of Adam and Eve illustrates symbolically how sinfulness became part of the human story, and how the free choices of human beings, not God, are responsible for the sin and suffering in the human community.

OUTCOME - A specific intended result of teaching and learning. Outcomes are derived from the content of the syllabus and arranged in levels. In this curriculum there are unit outcomes as well as level outcomes.


PAPAL ENCYCLICAL - A document of the Pope to the bishops of the church as a whole or to those in one country on a specific social or religious topic.

PARISH - A local community of faith, service and worship centred around the person of Christ and designated in a Diocese. It is situated in a specific geographic location and often has a Catholic school as one of its key places of evangelisation.

PARTICULARITY - The doctrine of God’s incarnation as Jesus as a particular person at a particular time and place. A particular characteristic.

PEDAGOGY - A particular teaching lens, process or method.

PLURALITY - More than one way of being or believing.

PLURALISTIC - Relating to the co-existence of two or more states, religions, cultural groups, or principles etc. in society.

PLURALISATION - The process where different minority religions and cultural groups become more accepted and visible in a larger group or society.

POST CRITICAL BELIEF (SECOND NAÏVETÉ) - The style of belief that recognises that God is mystery, never completely contained by limited human language and that a relationship with God is mediated symbolically and sacramentally.

POST CRITICAL BELIEF SCALE - A theoretical model that profiles and measures the different attitudes towards religion that exist in an individual or a population as a whole. These attitudes or styles are: Literal Belief, External Critique, Relativism and Post Critical Belief.

POSTMODERN - The era after the modern one, describing a set of ideas that question the ideas and values associated with progress and innovation.

POSITIVE ANTHROPOLOGY - An understanding of the human condition that looks at cultural norms and social structures that work well and from which we can learn.

PRAXIS - The process by which a theory, lesson or skill is embodied or realised.

PRE-EVANGELISATION - The stage of coming to belief in which a person begins to learn about the Christian Tradition.

PRIESTHOOD OF THE LAITY - An understanding that, by virtue of baptism, lay people are part of the evangelising mission of the Church.

PROMULGATE - To put a law or rule into action.

PRUDENTIAL - Showing care and forethought.

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RECONTEXTUALISATION - A process that seeks to establish an holistic Catholic identity in the context of a secular and pluralist society by bringing the Catholic Tradition and the surrounding culture into dialogue.

RECONTEXTUALISING PEDAGOGY - A method of teaching and learning that establishes an holistic Catholic identity in the context of a secular and pluralist society by bringing the Catholic Tradition and the surrounding culture into dialogue.

RECONCILIATION - To make right with self, with the other and with God.

REIGN OF GOD or Kingdom of God - The dynamic process towards fulfilment of God’s saving activity within all humanity and the universe. The Reign of God is present wherever people live in harmony with the will of God.

RELIGIONS - Systems of belief in, and response to, the divine mystery, including sacred books, rituals, ethical practices and social organisation.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION - The program and process in the curriculum and life of the school to bring students into a transforming encounter with Christ in an ongoing personal relationship with him, evident in faith, worship and social action.

RELIGIOUS FAITH - When understood as a verb, religious faith is an active lifestyle of trusting, meaning making, and commitment in relation to God. Some people also use the word as a noun, as in ‘the faith’, referring to belief in a set of essential doctrines, values and ritual practices related to God.

RELATIVISM - The style of belief that regards religions as interchangeable options, human constructions where belief in a transcendent God is excluded. Particularity is rejected. Everything starts to look the same, sound the same etc. In relativism, difference doesn’t matter.

REPORTING - The communication, written or verbal, formal or informal, of the assessment of student learning and/or the description or evaluation of learning experiences and programs.

REVELATION - God’s free and loving self-communication, pre-eminently through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, but also in other ways, such as through creation, human history, human culture, and God’s words and deeds in Scripture, directed towards the spiritual wellbeing and salvation of all humanity.

RHETORIC - A mode of language or waqy of speaking

RITES - Ceremonial practices as part of liturgy

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SECOND NAÏVETÉ (also refer to FIRST NAÏVETÉ) - See Post-Critical belief.

SECULAR - Relating to the world at the exclusion of a religious worldview.

SECULARISING - Involving the rise of civil systems and affairs which have little reference to religion.

SECULARIST - One who excludes religion or religious considerations from his or her worldview.

SELF-COMMUNICATION - The method through which an understanding of God can be experienced.

SELF-REVELATION - In the religious context an understanding that through Tradition, Scripture and life experience, God can be experienced and known.

SHARED CHRISTIAN PRAXIS - An overarching approach to religious education and ministry. Participants share life experience which is explored and reflected upon in the light of the Christian Story and Vision. In identifying the unfolding relationship between their personal and collective experience and the developing Christian Tradition, participants are invited to consider appropriate responses.

SOLIDARITY - Connections or identity with others or other groups in a society or community, formed through a regard for the other that can have its inspiration in Christianity.

SPECIALIST - One who has particular knowledge in a specific area for example regarding Christian and other religious traditions.

STEWARDSHIP - This is a principle of justice founded in the belief that everything God created is good. Every Christian therefore must be a responsible and sharing steward of all creation – recognizing that our relationship with the world must be respectful, conserving and fair to all.

SYMBOL - Something that suggests something else – a visible sign of an invisible presence. In the Christian Tradition, for example, the light of a candle symbolises the light of Christ.

SYMBOLICALLY-MEDIATED - Using symbols through which God can be experienced.

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THEOLOGICAL-PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVE - Recognises the presence of the human ‘other’ in encounters of genuine and careful dialogue at the level of personal worldview and life-commitment.

THEOLOGY - A conscious attempt to bring thoughtful and insightful expression to the human experience of revelation and faith in God.

TRADITION - The rich and dynamic process by which the entire story of the people of God is handed on to diverse peoples, communities and human cultures. The Catholic Tradition includes doctrines and teachings, forms of worship, spiritualities, art, music, customs, in fact, the living and active faith witness of all the baptised through the ages.

These are the forms, behaviours, expressions, and practices of local community, living out what is expressed in the Catholic Tradition.

TRANSCEND - To go beyond the material or the lived reality.

TRANSCENDENT - Beyond the material world: God.

TRANSFORMATIVE - That which causes us to be taken out of ourselves.

TRINITY - The Christian belief in the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three persons in one God.

TRINITARIAN GOD (Triune God) - This refers to the Catholic teaching of the mystery of one God, being three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) - A specialised agency of the United Nations aimed at contributing to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information

UNIT OUTLINE - An organisational arrangement designed to assist the teaching of the Curriculum Framework. Each Unit Outline has a title, a focus, unit outcomes that serve level outcomes and doctrinal concepts, teaching/ learning experiences, assessment tasks, references to Scripture, theology and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.



WITNESS - Refers to a person who through his/her way of living continually seeks to model the Christian life of following Jesus.




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