On the Way to Life - A critical analysis of Culture and Faith


On The Way To Life is an interpretive essay commissioned by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and written by Frs. James Hanvey, SJ and Tony Carroll, SJ. It provides an evaluative commentary on contemporary culture and social trends, secularisation and modernity and the part both play in the field of catechesis, religious education and formation.

The document is in three parts. The first part examining significant elements in contemporary culture, the second part theological responses to that culture and the third part a commentary on the resources and responses the Catholic community can bring to handing on the faith through education, catechesis and formation.

As a first step theological reviews have been undertaken by the following theologians: Tina Beattie, Cecily Boulding, Michael Campbell, Clifford Longley and Timothy Radcliffe.

Both the essay and these reflections are available on the Catholic Education Service website. Neither is an end product but is shared to stimulate further discussion and greater self-awareness both within and outside the Catholic community.

This is the first stage of a major three-year project. As Archbishop Vincent Nichols writes in the foreword to On The Way To Life the essay “highlights the ways in which, in this country, we stand at a crossroads. We need to reflect deeply on its contents.”

The writers, reviewers and project coordinator for On The Way To Life are available for interview. Please contact Andrea Alphonse on 020 7901 4880 or at

It is anticipated on 12th October 2005 further introductory material and a DVD summarising the main themes of the report will be available from CCN/CES.

Please find below biographical summaries of the writers.

Biographical Summary of Fr. James Hanvey, SJ

Fr. James Hanvey is currently the Director of the Heythrop institute for Religion, Ethics and Public Life. He also holds the Veale Chair in Ignatian Spirituality at the Milltown institute, Dublin (2004-2006). After receiving his doctorate from Oxford he was appointed headmaster at Saint Aloysius’ College HMC, Glasgow. He has been visiting scholar at Weston Jesuit Theological College, Cambridge Mass and working in the leadership seminars at the John F. Kennedy Schools of Government, Harvard University.

Biographical Summary of Fr. Anthony Carroll, SJ

Fr. Anthony Carroll completed studies for ordination in Manchester and Paris. On finishing his doctorate at the University of Frankfurt on the question of secularisation in modern social theory he joined the Heythrop Institute for Religion, Ethics and Public Life as Assistant Director. He is also currently president of European Jesuits in Social Science