BCE Leuven Project

e-Update - Term 2, 2015

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Welcome to Term 2

Welcome back to Term 2. We hope the Easter holidays has been a time of renewal for you and your community and we wish you all the best for the term ahead.

This term is going to be a very busy and exciting term for many of our school who are involved with the BCE Leuven Project. Some of the key things occurring this term are:

- Theology and Practice of the BCE Leuven Project workshop for 2012 and 2014

- Individual school visits to focus on planning using their Leuven Report for 2014 and
2012 (optional) schools.

- Finalisation of the data collection process for the 2015 schools.

What is the BCE Leuven Project?

The BCE Leuven Project, is part of the broader BCE, Strengthening Catholic Identity Strategy. The broad strategy looks at all ways in which we strengthen the Catholic identity of our schools and offices; through formation, mission, curriculum and culture. The BCE Leuven Project is one way in which schools and office communities can explore and collect data about the Catholic identity of their community.

Today Catholic schools in Australia often find themselves challenged to express their distinctiveness, identity and vision in a society where the Christian faith is increasingly marginalised. Through engagement in the BCE Leuven Project, Brisbane Catholic Education aims to explore and assist schools to better understand how their Catholic identity is expressed in work and practice.

Through the data collection process and analysis, schools will have a starting point for the exploration and subsequent development of strategies to enhance the Catholic identity of the school.

Brisbane Catholic Education is in partnership with the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, who is pioneering this research. Professor Didier Pollefeyt and research assistant Jan Bouwens are the lead researchers on this project. BCE is also collaborating with the Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton Dioceses and we also acknowledge the contribution of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria in piloting this research.

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Theology and Practice of the BCE Leuven Project

On Wednesday 22nd April, we hosted Principals, Senior Leaders and teachers from our 2014 and 2012 cohorts of Leuven schools at a workshop to explore the theology and data of the BCE Leuven Project. Kevin Twomey, Deputy Executive Director, personnel from the Professional Learning, Formation and Leadership Team and Religious Education Services Team as well as a number of Area Supervisors from both North and South were on hand to facilitate and support the schools who attended the day.

We were privileged to have Pam Betts, Executive Director and Fr David Pascoe, Dean of St Stephen's Cathedral lead the morning session. Pam outlined the organisations vision for the Strengthening Catholic Identity Strategy and Fr David took us through the key characteristics of Catholic Identity, based on the work of Thomas Groome and Stephen Bevans.

This workshop was a great opportunity for our 2012 & 2014 Leuven schools to come together and begin to explore their data and to begin the conversation about how they can turn their data into meaningful action to further build upon the great work being done in our schools.

Electronic copies of many of the resources from the day will be emailed out to the schools who attended. If you wish to obtain any other resources around Catholic Identity or have any questions please contact Simon Mahaffy on 3033 7378 or smahaffy@bne.catholic.edu.au .

Have a look at some photos from the day!


Over the remaining editions of the E-Update for 2015, we will explore and unpack each of the three main scales presented in the Leuven research.

The first of these scales is the Post Critical Belief Scale or PCB Scale. This scale explores the cognitive belief styles present within a community and will assist schools in profiling and measuring the different attitudes toward religion within the school community. The four cognitive belief styles or religious attitudes result from the combination of two dimensions.

  1. Belief or non-belief in God (inclusion/ exclusion of belief in transcendence) HORIZONTAL AXIS

  2. Way in which religious faith is experienced and processed (literal Vs symbolic interpretation of religion) VERTICAL AXIS

It is important to note that this scale presents extreme positions on a continuum and that there many in-between positions.

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The preferred option proposed by the Catholic University of Leuven is that of POST CRITICAL BELIEF. This is a symbolic belief in God. An individuals relationship with God is via different mediations (prayer, rituals, music...). PCB requires faith but acknowledges faith truths aren't certain knowledge, there is also mystery.
Professor Pollefeyt uses the following diagram to help further illustrate the four belief standpoints.
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Listen to Professor Didier Pollefeyt Explain the PCB Scale!

Post-Critical Belief Scale Explanation Part A
Post-Critical Belief Scale Explanation Part B

How do you Foster Post Critical Belief?

The recommendations listed in a school report issued by the Catholic University of Leuven will often highlight the importance of fostering a Post Critical Belief among students and adults. How then can we actually do this?

One of the key ways is to develop a symbolic understanding of scripture. Teachers need to develop reading and interpretation skills to appreciate the understandings of God and religious experience that are presented in Biblical texts (Religious Education Curriculum P-12, Archdiocese of Brisbane, 2013).

The Catholic approach to interpreting scripture is summed up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to the person in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words (n.109)

In order to discover the author’s intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating current at the time.

“For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression (Dei Verbum, 12)

When engaging with scripture it is important to develop an understanding of the:

  • World behind the text- What can be learnt about the context of the text: the historical world of the human author(s); the cultural world of the time; geographic considerations; the community for whom the text was written? …

  • World of the text- What is actually in the text? What type of writing is this text? What is the structure? Who are the characters and what happens?...

  • World in front of the text- What are some of the messages from or about God that modern believers can take from this text? Does the Church have a specific teaching about the meaning of this text? How might this text be used in contemporary contexts such as liturgy, for personal spiritual reflections, to inspire action for justice? ...

    (From: Religious Education Curriculum P-12, Archdiocese of Brisbane, 2013)

    For further information about the three worlds of the text please click here.

By nurturing a symbolic understanding of scripture, students and adults will be able to make meaning of scripture texts and be able to apply that meaning to their own lives. This will help ensure the relevance of these texts to believers in a contemporary world.

Another way that the Catholic University of Leuven proposes to foster post critical belief is to have an active and diverse prayer life. This involves both communal and individual prayer that advances a critical and symbolic understanding. Various practices that will support this symbolic understanding include but are not limited to:

  • Lectio Divina

  • Imago Divina (click here for explanation)

  • Christian Meditation

  • Christian Mindfulness

  • Praying with labyrinths

  • The Examen

  • Contemplative Prayer

  • Praying the rosary

The Religious Education Curriculum P-12, through the explicit teaching about prayer, as well as opportunities to participate in a variety of prayer experiences as part of the religious life of the classroom and of the school seeks to support teachers as they nurture the prayer life of students. The resource, Explicit Teaching About Prayer, depicts the year level at which particular prayers and meditative prayer practices are explicitly taught, as identified in the content descriptions of the Prayer and Spirituality sub strand, and their development across the year levels (Religious Education Curriculum P-12, Archdiocese of Brisbane, 2013).

Teaching about prayer in a Catholic or ecumenical school is complemented by opportunities for staff and students to engage in prayer on a daily basis. In the course of their years at school, students will experience a variety of formal and informal expressions of prayer, appropriate to their age and development (Religious Education Curriculum P-12, Archdiocese of Brisbane, 2013).

The Religious Education Portal and the Mission and Formation websites have valuable prayer resources that support a symbolic and diverse prayer life both personally and for school / office communities.

Prayer, like the Sacraments, sacred rituals, etc, is a mediation that helps individuals and communities enter into a relationship and connect with God.


For more information about the PCB Scale please refer to the article Framing the identity of Catholic Schools: Empirical methodology for quantitative research on the Catholic identity of an education institute (2010) by Pollefeyt and Bouwens.
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You can also download a copy of the PCB Scale fact sheet, which briefly outlines key information about this scale.

Click on the link below to access the fact sheet.

PCB Scale Fact Sheet

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Recontextualising art in BCEO

In the foyer of BCEO at Dutton Park is great example of the recontextualisation of the Easter Vigil scripture readings through art.

This installation follows on from our Lenten space and uses imagery that figures strongly in the readings used in the Easter Vigil liturgy. It presents the imagery of Easter (creation, new life and resurrection) in a re-imagined, contemporary way and in a way that we can relate to in our present time.

The theme of the rainbow is present as it was in our Lenten Imagery. Dr Jenny Close explains this:

“As was noted in the notes on the Lenten imagery: ‘rainbows are paradoxical images because they are formed when light shines through clouds of water droplets, which act as prisms. So God’s rainbow covenant is made of both the destructive water and redeeming light.’ In the third panel, Jesus is figured as the personification of God’s rainbow covenant and the fulfilment of all God’s promises.”

This prayer space enables us to more deeply enter the Easter season and to develop a contemporary theological understanding of Easter.

We thank and acknowledge Dr Jenny Close for designing this space and for her explanatory notes.

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For Dr Jenny Close's full notes on this installation please click on the link below.

Date Claimer

October 29th, 2015.

For schools in the 2015 cohort, there will be a workshop on the 29th October, 2015 where the theology underpinning the BCE Leuven Project will be explored. Also at this workshop we will investigate how to understand and interpret the data that will be presented in your individual school reports. This event will take place at the O'Shea Centre, Wilston. Enrolment is not yet available but schools will be notified once this workshop is open.

Please keep this date free.

Helpful Resources


An updated version of the BCE Shape Paper for the Strengthening Catholic Identity Strategy is now available for download. This document outlines the purpose, vision and scope of this key BCE strategy. Please click HERE to download a copy from K-Web.


These documents have been written by the Catholic University of Leuven to help explain the PCB Scale, Melbourne Scale and Victoria Scale. Please click on the link below to access the articles.

Leuven Scales for Dummies


Imago Divina is a visual meditative prayer form that follows a similar pattern to Lectio Divina. It is a contemplative prayer form where we contemplate God's visual word in a work of art. For a deeper explanation about Imago Divina please read the article The Art of Compassion by Diane W Stephens. This article explores Imago Divina in the service of compassion and also outlines a structure that can be followed. There is a link to this article below or you can access it through Resource Link at BCEO, Dutton Park.

The Art of Compassion PDF


These video excerpts were taken at the 2014 Leadership Conference, where Professor Pollefeyt was the key note speaker. This series of videos give an overview of the Leuven Project and explore the PCB, Melbourne and Victoria Scales.

Want to Talk to Someone about the BCE Leuven Project?

If you have any queries or questions about the BCE Leuven Project please direct them to Simon Mahaffy or contact the team on 3033 7620