Melbourne study testing Perth "irrelevant" finding
A survey being conducted by Catholic Education authorities in Victoria will throw further light on the shock results of a Perth study that suggested most students leave Catholic schools believing the Church is largely irrelevant and too restrictive.
The Age reports this morning on the findings of the study conducted last year by Perth Marist Brother Luke Saker, who lectures at Edith Cowan University. Brother Saker surveyed 133 graduates of Catholic schools in Perth, all studying education units that would enable them to teach in Catholic schools.
The results were first reported in the Perth Archdiocesan newspaper The Record in November.
In his study, Dr Saker found that fewer than 13% regularly attended Mass and most ignored church moral teachings. Nearly 80% disagreed that using contraception was sinful, 66% disagreed that homosexuality was sinful, 60% denied that sex outside marriage was sinful and 68% denied Catholic teaching on papal infallibility.
The Record, said the study suggested that the extent to which Catholic schools are fulfilling their purpose is open to question. But it quoted Dr Saker as saying that when the reasons for the church's position are explained in university classes, many students are surprised that they had never heard such explanations before.
Susan Pascoe, executive director of Catholic education in Melbourne, told The Age yesterday that she does not have the data for Melbourne.
"We are doing two research projects at the moment, one on the value added by a Catholic education that addresses that very question: what difference does it make to be in a Catholic school?" The second project, with Belgium's Leuven University, examined how Catholic the church's schools actually were, Ms Pascoe said.
She said many young people rejected the church when they left school but returned once they began having families.
Christian researcher Philip Hughes said the biggest influence on people's values was the overall culture.
"In our interviews, some specific events have an impact. (Spiritual) retreats are strongly affirmed and the social justice programs many schools have really fire the imaginations of Catholic students, so it's a mixed picture," Dr Hughes said. "I'm picking up that there's still a lot of respect for Catholicism, even if people don't take on board all aspects," he said.
Catholic teachings 'irrelevant' (The Age 9/1/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Commission Victoria
Edith Cowan University - Brother Luke Saker
Study delivers serious news for Catholic Education (The Record 17/11/05 - pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 - warning: large PDF downloads, up to 1MB)
Study shows most Catholic students reject faith (CathNews 7/12/05)
9 Jan 2006