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Prayer rooms to foster togetherness

Catholic schools should create special prayer rooms for pupils of different faiths as a way of improving community cohesion, guidance issued by the Church has said.

Toilet facilities could also be adapted to allow for "ritual cleansing" sometimes associated with religious worship, according to the publication released this week.

The advice, issued on behalf of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, is included in a document providing guidance to schools on promoting understanding between faiths.

The Church said around 30 per cent of pupils in Catholic schools do not follow the Catholic faith.

Where practical, schools should make alternative prayer rooms available for both pupils and staff, the guidance says. If washing facilities cannot be made available permanently, schools should make "extra efforts" to adapt them for major religious festivals.

Pupils and parents of other faiths should also be invited to share their beliefs with the school.

Pupils could be addressed by other faith leaders, including imams and rabbis.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, said: "Dialogue with other faiths is a consistent theme in the life of the Catholic Church.

"Such dialogue is conducted in many parishes and neighbourhoods, in colleges, universities and other academic circles.

"It has become increasingly important as the presence of other faith communities grows and becomes more evident in our society."

Teachers should also be aware of pupils' health when they are fasting and schools should make sure that they take account of the dietary requirements associated with different faiths.

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