Norbert Mette

The child as Mystery

Godly Play in the Context of Roman-Catholic Concepts for Religious Education and Catechesis

This contribution reconstructs and clarifies the Roman-Catholic roots of Godly Play in the theological and pedagogical concepts of Karl Rahner, Josef Andreas Jungmann and Sofia Cavaletti, seen in the light of the current German religious education-discussion. Especially the “Catechesis of the Good Shepherd” is explored in its similarities and differences to Jerome Berryman’s concept of religious education. In addition, the author looks at a German concept called “Religionspädagogische Praxis” which comes from the elementary religious education and Roman Catholic background. Its similarities refer to the focus on sensual, symbolic materials, room and atmosphere and the opportunity for the child to become creative.

The author underlines that all these concepts need to be evaluated in the context of the modern discussion of “spirituality and theology of children.” He questions the balance between the confessional and cultural inputs that all these concepts offer and the hermeneutical tasks of contemporary religious education. Moreover, the author cautions to introduce children into a separate “church-sphere” as distinct from the ethical, social and political issues that need to be explicitly (not only implicitly) addressed in religious education.