New World Religions text introduced this fall

  • April 29, 2010
World ReligionsTORONTO - The first-ever Grade 11 world religion textbook from a Canadian Catholic perspective is coming to Ontario Catholic schools this fall.

World Religions: A Canadian Catholic Perspective is published by Novalis Publishing Inc. and Nelson Education Ltd. and will update the previous text that had been used for the Grade 11 course.  

In 2008, the Assembly of Bishops of Ontario (then known as the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops) commissioned the Institute for Catholic Education to write a proposal and approach publishing companies to have the textbook written.

The 388-page book covers topics ranging from religious pluralism, Christianity and evangelization, modernity and religion and Catholicism in Canada. In addition to Christianity, it gives an overview of different faith groups including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Canadian aboriginal spirituality.

In a previous interview with The Register, one of the book’s authors, Fr. John van den Hengel, said the textbook will focus on the rituals of different faiths as opposed to the traditional emphasis on doctrine by other world religion textbooks.

“In this text, we are more aware that God is speaking in other religions,” he said.

The textbook highlights the importance of interaction between different religious groups.

“Our relationship with other religions must go beyond tolerance. It is not enough to respect others and leave them in peace,” according to the updated book

“Religions cannot just live side by side making absolute claims without asking questions of each other. They must interact,” it continued. “So, in addition to living together and respecting each other, religions must talk with each other.”

James Ryan, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, said teaching Grade 11 students about other faiths is important. Grade 11 is the level best suited to introduce students to other religions, he said.

“What (the text) does is it views the world’s other religions through the lens of Catholicity. In doing that, it really is in the spirit of Vatican II and the spirit of ecumenism,” Ryan said.

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