In Catholic schools, catholicity is a cross-curriculum priority. “What makes the Catholic school distinctive is its attempt to generate a community climate in the school that is permeated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and love.” (Vatican II, Gravissimum Educationis, Declaration on Christian Education, n. 8.)
Catholicity is the defining feature of the ethos and the distinctive identity of a Catholic school that permeates the entire Catholic curriculum. It constitutes the cultural core of a Catholic school.
The word “catholicity” has a rich theological and ecclesial (church) meaning: it comes from the Greek words kata and holos, meaning “according to the totality” or “in keeping with the whole” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 830). The notion has two inseparable parts: centredness on Christ, and openness to all: “First, the Church is Catholic because Christ is present in her … Secondly, the Church is Catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race” (CCC, n. 831).
Catholicity, then, is not an identity over and against “others” that sets Catholics apart from others. Indeed, it is deeply paradoxical, since the only claim that it makes about its own “distinctive identity” is that it is open to all and composed by the entire spectrum of what it means to be human. It is, therefore, and in the deepest and richest sense, about whole-making, welcoming, including and celebrating the rich diversity of humankind and human nature as the image and likeness of God—a life-giving and liberating mystery we begin to glimpse in the person and message of Jesus and his Gospel.
In practical terms, Catholicity identifies the centrality of Christ and the flourishing of each person and of all people. It is a cross-curriculum priority permeating every aspect of the Catholic school and its mission—in every one of the key learning areas—as the driving force of the general capabilities, and as the animating spirit of the school as a community of learning. Whatever is done in a Catholic school is done with reference to Christ as its centre and with the aim of promoting the full human flourishing of each person and of the whole human family.