How coherent is the claim that Catholic education is both distinctive and inclusive? This question, so crucial, both for the adequate articulation of a raison d'être for Catholic schools all over the world and also for the promotion of their healthy functioning, has not hitherto been addressed critically. Here it receives penetrating analysis and constructive resolution in a comprehensive treatment that integrates theological, philosophical and educational perspectives. The argument draws on wide-ranging scholarship, offering new insights into the relevance for Catholic education of thinkers whose work has been relatively neglected. The advance in understanding of how distinctiveness relates to inclusiveness is underpinned by the author's lengthy experience of teaching and leadership in Catholic schools; it is further informed by his extended and continuing dialogue with Catholic educators at all levels and in many different countries.