ON ECCLESIASTICAL UNIVERSITIES AND FACULTIES
1.The joy of truth (Veritatis Gaudium) expresses the restlessness of the human heart until it encounters and dwells within God’s Light, and shares that Light with all people. For truth is not an abstract idea, but is Jesus himself, the Word of God in whom is the Life that is the Light of man (cf. Jn 1:4), the Son of God who is also the Son of Man. He alone, “in revealing the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals humanity to itself and brings to light its very high calling”.
When we encounter the Living One (cf. Rev 1:18) and the firstborn among many brothers (cf. Rom 8:29), our hearts experience, even now, amid the vicissitudes of history, the unfading light and joy born of our union with God and our unity with our brothers and sisters in the common home of creation. One day we will experience that endless joy in full communion with God. In Jesus’ prayer to the Father – “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (Jn 17:21) – we find the secret of the joy that Jesus wishes to share in its fullness (cf. Jn 15:11). It is the joy that comes from the Father through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth and of love, freedom, justice and unity.
This is the joy that the Church is impelled by Jesus to bear witness to and to proclaim in her mission, unceasingly and with ever renewed vigour. The People of God makes its pilgrim way along the paths of history, accompanying in solidarity the men and women of all peoples and cultures, in order to shed the light of the Gospel upon humanity’s journey towards the new civilization of love. Closely linked to the Church’s evangelizing mission, which flows from her very identity as completely committed to promoting the authentic and integral growth of the human family towards its definitive fullness in God, is the vast multidisciplinary system of ecclesiastical studies. This system has developed over the centuries from the wisdom of the People of God, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in dialogue with, and discernment of, the signs of the times and diverse cultural expressions.
It is not surprising then that the Second Vatican Council, in its decisive and prophetic effort to renew the Church’s life for a more effective mission in this moment of history, in its Decree Optatam Totius called for a faithful and creative review of ecclesiastical studies (cf. Nos. 13-22). That review, after careful study and prudent testing, led to the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana, promulgated by Saint John Paul II on 15 April 1979. The Constitution further encouraged and refined the Church’s efforts to support “Ecclesiastical Faculties and Universities, which is to say those concerned particularly with Christian revelation and questions connected therewith and which are therefore more closely connected with her mission of evangelization”, as well as with other disciplines which, “although lacking a special link with Christian revelation, can still help considerably in the work of evangelizing”.
Almost forty years later, in fidelity to the spirit and directives of Vatican II and for its own timely application, the Apostolic Constitution urgently needs to be brought up to date. While remaining fully valid in its prophetic vision and its clarity of expression, the Constitution ought to include the norms and dispositions issued since its promulgation, and to take into account developments in the area of academic studies in these past decades. There is also a need to acknowledge the changed social-cultural context worldwide and to implement initiatives on the international level to which the Holy See has adhered.
This, then, is a good occasion to promote with thoughtful and prophetic determination the renewal of ecclesiastical studies at every level, as part of the new phase of the Church’s mission, marked by witness to the joy born of encountering Jesus and proclaiming his Gospel, that I set before the whole People of God as a programme in Evangelii Gaudium.
2.The Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana represented in every respect the mature fruit of the great work of reforming ecclesiastical studies initiated by the Second Vatican Council. In particular, it consolidated the progress made in this crucial area of the Church’s mission under the wise and prudent guidance of Blessed Paul VI, while at the same time heralding the contribution, in continuity with the past, which would be made by the magisterium of Saint John Paul II.
As I have had occasion to note, “one of the main contributions of the Second Vatican Council was precisely seeking a way to overcome this divorce between theology and pastoral care, between faith and life. I dare say that the Council has revolutionized to some extent the status of theology – the believer’s way of doing and thinking”. It is precisely in this light that Optatum Totius strongly proposes that ecclesiastical studies “be more suitably aligned and… work harmoniously towards opening more and more the minds of the students to the mystery of Christ. For it is this mystery which affects the whole history of the human race, [and] continually influences the Church”. In order to achieve this, the conciliar Decree urges joining meditation with the study of sacred Scripture, “the soul of all theology”, together with assiduous and conscious participation in the sacred Liturgy, the “primary and indispensable source of the truly Christian spirit”, and the systematic study of the living Tradition of the Church in dialogue with all people of our time, listening attentively to their concerns, their sufferings and their needs. Consequently, Optatam Totius stresses, “pastoral concern… ought to permeate thoroughly the entire training of the students”, so that they become accustomed to “transcending the limits of their own diocese, nation, or rite, and to helping the needs of the whole Church, [and] prepared in spirit to preach the Gospel everywhere”.
Pope Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi and Populorum Progressio, and John Paul II’s Redemptoris Hominis, issued only a month before the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution, are milestones along the way which led from these directives of Vatican II to Sapientia Christiana. The prophetic inspiration of Pope Paul’s Apostolic Exhortation on evangelization in the modern world is forcefully echoed in the Foreword of Sapientia Christiana. There we read that “the Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel not only demands that the Good News be preached ever more widely and to ever greater numbers of men and women, but that the very power of the Gospel should permeate thought patterns, standards of judgment, and norms of behaviour. In a word, it is necessary that the whole of human culture be steeped in the Gospel”. John Paul II, for his part, especially in the Encyclical Fides et Ratio, reaffirmed and developed, with regard to the dialogue between philosophy and theology, the conviction underlying Vatican II’s teaching that “the human being can come to a unified and organic vision of knowledge. This is one of the tasks which Christian thought will have to take up through the next millennium of the Christian era”.
Populorum Progressio likewise played a decisive role in the reordering of ecclesiastical studies in the light of Vatican II. The experience of the various local Churches has shown that it, together with Evangelii Nuntiandi, offered significant encouragement and concrete direction for the inculturation of the Gospel and the evangelization of culture in various regions of the world and in response to present-day challenges. This social Encyclical of Paul VI, in fact, incisively states that the development of peoples, essential for attaining justice and peace worldwide, “must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man”. It also speaks of the need for “wise men in search of a new humanism, one which will enable… [human persons to] find themselves”. Populorum Progressio thus interprets with prophetic vision the social question as an anthropological question, one affecting the fate of the entire human family.
This is the distinct interpretative key that would inspire the Church’s subsequent social teaching, from Laborem Exercens to Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, to John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus, to Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate and to Laudato Si’. Renewing the invitation to a new way of thinking proposed by Populorum Progressio, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the urgent need “to experience and to steer the globalization of humanity in relational terms, in terms of communion and the sharing of goods”. He emphasized that God wants to associate humanity to that ineffable mystery of communion that is the Blessed Trinity, of which the Church is a sign and instrument in Jesus Christ. For this actually to take place, he invites us “to broaden the scope of reason” thus enabling it to understand and guide the powerful new forces troubling the human family, “animating them within the perspective of that ‘civilization of love’ whose seed God has planted in every people, in every culture”. This in turn will “foster the interaction of the different levels of human knowledge”, theological and philosophical, social and scientific.
3. This rich legacy of analysis and direction has been tested and enriched, as it were, “on the ground” thanks to the persevering commitment to a social and cultural meditation on the Gospel undertaken by the People of God in different continental areas and in dialogue with diverse cultures. The time has now come for it to be consolidated and to impart to ecclesiastical studies that wise and courageous renewal demanded by the missionary transformation of a Church that “goes forth”.
The primary need today is for the whole People of God to be ready to embark upon a new stage of “Spirit-filled” evangelization. This calls for “a resolute process of discernment, purification and reform”. In this process, a fitting renewal of the system of ecclesiastical studies plays a strategic role. These studies, in fact, are called to offer opportunities and processes for the suitable formation of priests, consecrated men and women, and committed lay people. At the same time, they are called to be a sort of providential cultural laboratory in which the Church carries out the performative interpretation of the reality brought about by the Christ event and nourished by the gifts of wisdom and knowledge by which the Holy Spirit enriches the People of God in manifold ways – from the sensus fidei fidelium to the magisterium of the bishops, and from the charism of the prophets to that of the doctors and theologians.
This is essential for a Church that “goes forth”! All the more so because today we are not only living in a time of changes but are experiencing a true epochal shift, marked by a wide-ranging “anthropological” and “environmental crisis”. Indeed, we daily see “signs that things are now reaching a breaking point, due to the rapid pace of change and degradation; these are evident in large-scale natural disasters as well as social and even financial crises”. In a word, this calls for “changing the models of global development” and “redefining our notion of progress”. Yet “the problem is that we still lack the culture necessary to confront this crisis. We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths”.
This vast and pressing task requires, on the cultural level of academic training and scientific study, a broad and generous effort at a radical paradigm shift, or rather – dare I say – at “a bold cultural revolution”. In this effort, the worldwide network of ecclesiastical universities and faculties is called to offer the decisive contribution of leaven, salt and light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the living Tradition of the Church, which is ever open to new situations and ideas.
Today it is becoming increasingly evident that “there is need of a true evangelical hermeneutic for better understanding life, the world and humanity, not of a synthesis but of a spiritual atmosphere of research and certainty based on the truths of reason and of faith. Philosophy and theology permit one to acquire the convictions that structure and strengthen the intelligence and illuminate the will... but this is fruitful only if it is done with an open mind and on one’s knees. The theologian who is satisfied with his complete and conclusive thought is mediocre. The good theologian and philosopher has an open, that is, an incomplete, thought, always open to the maius of God and of the truth, always in development, according to the law that Saint Vincent of Lerins described in these words: annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate (Commonitorium primum, 23: PL 50, 668)”.
4. Against this vast new horizon now opening before us, what must be the fundamental criteria for a renewal and revival of the contribution of ecclesiastical studies to a Church of missionary outreach? Here we can identify at least four criteria that emerge from the Second Vatican Council’s teaching and the Church’s experience in these past decades of having received that teaching in attentive listening to the Holy Spirit and to the deepest needs and most pressing questions of the human family.
a) First, the most urgent and enduring criterion is that of contemplation and the presentation of a spiritual, intellectual and existential introduction to the heart of the kerygma, namely the ever fresh and attractive good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which continues to take flesh in the life of the Church and of humanity.  This is the mystery of salvation, of which the Church, in Christ, is a sign and instrument in the midst of all people. The Church is “a mystery rooted in the Trinity, yet she exists concretely in history as a people of pilgrims and evangelizers, transcending any institutional expression, however necessary... [and her] ultimate foundation is in the free and gracious initiative of God”.
This joyful and life-giving contemplation of the face of God, revealed in Jesus Christ as a Father rich in mercy (cf. Eph 2:4), enables us to live in a liberating and responsible way the experience the Church as a “mystique” of living together. This provides the leaven of that universal fraternity which is “capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbour, of finding God in every human being, of tolerating the nuisances of life in common by clinging to the love of God, of opening the heart to divine love and seeking the happiness of others just as their heavenly Father does”. It is also the source of the imperative to allow our hearts and minds to heed the cry of the earth’s poor and to give concrete expression to the social dimension of evangelization, which is an integral part of the Church’s mission. For “God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person but also the social relations existing between men”. It is true that “we may not always be able to reflect adequately the beauty of the Gospel, but there is one sign which we should never lack: the option for those who are least, those whom society discards”. This option must pervade the presentation and study of Christian truth.
From this comes the particular feature, in the formation of a Christian culture, of discovering in the whole of creation the Trinitarian imprint that makes the cosmos in which we live a “network of relations” in which “it is proper to every living being to tend towards other things”. This in turn fosters “a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity”.
b) A second guiding criterion, closely linked to and flowing from the first, is that of wide-ranging dialogue, not as a mere tactical approach, but as an intrinsic requirement for experiencing in community the joy of the Truth and appreciating more fully its meaning and practical implications. Today our proclamation of the Gospel and the Church’s doctrine are called to promote a culture of encounter, in generous and open cooperation with all the positive forces that contribute to the growth of universal human consciousness. A culture, we might say, of encounter between all the authentic and vital cultures, thanks to a reciprocal exchange of the gifts of each in that luminous space opened up by God’s love for all his creatures.
As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, “truth, in fact, is logos which creates dia-logos, and hence communication and communion”. In this light, Sapientia Christiana, echoing Gaudium et Spes, urges dialogue with Christians of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and with those of other religious or humanistic convictions, maintaining “contact with scholars of other disciplines, whether these are believers or not”, in an effort to “evaluate and interpret the latter’s affirmations and judge them in the light of revealed truth”.
This provides a positive and timely chance to review, from this standpoint and in this spirit, the structure and method of the academic curricula proposed by the system of ecclesiastical studies, in their theological foundations, in their guiding principles and in their various levels of disciplinary, pedagogical and didactical organization. This can be accomplished in a demanding but highly productive effort to rethink and update the aims and integration of the different disciplines and the teaching imparted in ecclesiastical studies within this specific framework and intentionality. Today, in fact, “what is called for is an evangelization capable of shedding light on these new ways of relating to God, to others and to the world around us, and inspiring essential values. It must reach the places where new narratives and paradigms are being formed.”
c) From this follows the third fundamental criterion that I would propose: inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches carried out with wisdom and creativity in the light of Revelation. What distinguishes the academic, formative and research approach of the system of ecclesiastical studies, on the level of both content and method, is the vital intellectual principle of the unity in difference of knowledge and respect for its multiple, correlated and convergent expressions.
This entails offering, through the various programmes proposed by ecclesiastical studies, a variety of disciplines corresponding to the multifaceted richness of reality disclosed by the event of Revelation, yet harmoniously and dynamically converging in the unity of their transcendent source and their historical and metahistorical intentionality, which is eschatologically disclosed in Christ Jesus. In him, writes Saint Paul, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). This theological, anthropological, existential and epistemic principle takes on particular significance and is called to manifest all its effectiveness within the system of ecclesiastical studies by ensuring cohesion together with flexibility, and organicity together with dynamism. It must also show its effectiveness in relation to the fragmented and often disintegrated panorama of contemporary university studies and to the pluralism – uncertain, conflicting and relativistic – of current beliefs and cultural options.
Today, as Benedict XVI noted in Caritas in Veritate, taking up the cultural insights expressed by Paul VI in Populorum Progressio, “there is a lack of wisdom and reflection, a lack of thinking capable of formulating a guiding synthesis”. This is where the specific mission entrusted to the programme of ecclesiastical studies comes into play. The need for such a guiding synthesis not only makes clear the intrinsic purpose of the programme of ecclesiastical studies, but also demonstrates, especially today, its real cultural and humanizing importance. Today’s recovery of an interdisciplinary approach is certainly positive and promising, even in its “weak” form as a simple multidisciplinary approach that favours a better understanding from several points of view of an object of study. It is all the more so in its “strong” form, as cross-disciplinary, situating and stimulating all disciplines against the backdrop of the Light and Life offered by the Wisdom streaming from God’s Revelation.
It follows that someone trained in the framework of the institutions promoted by the system of ecclesiastical studies – as Blessed John Henry Newman wished for – ought to know “just where he and his science stand; he has come to it, as it were, from a height; he has taken a survey of all knowledge”. So too, in the nineteenth century, Blessed Antonio Rosmini called for a decisive reform in the area of Christian education, restoring the four pillars on which it firmly rested in the first centuries of the Christian era: “communion in learning, holy intercourse, habit of life, interchange of affection”. What is essential, he argued, is to restore the unity of content, perspective and aim of the science being taught, on the basis of the Word of God and its culmination in Christ Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. Without this living centre, science has “neither root nor coherence” and simply remains “as a mere matter of youthful memory”. Only in this way is it possible to overcome the “fatal separation of theory and practice”, for in the unity of science and holiness “we find the true spirit of that doctrine which is destined to save the world”. For the teaching of that doctrine, in ancient times, “did not end with the brief daily lesson; it was continued in the constant intercourse of the disciple with his master”.
d) A fourth and final criterion concerns the urgent need for “networking” between those institutions worldwide that cultivate and promote ecclesiastical studies, in order to set up suitable channels of cooperation also with academic institutions in the different countries and with those inspired by different cultural and religious traditions. At the same time, specialized centres of research need to be established in order to study the epochal issues affecting humanity today and to offer appropriate and realistic paths for their resolution.
As I noted in Laudato Si’, “beginning in the middle of the last century and in spite of many difficulties, there has been a growing conviction that our planet is a homeland and that humanity is one people living in a common home”. Recognizing this interdependence “obliges us to think of one world with a common plan. The Church, in particular, in a convinced and prophetic response to the summons to a renewed presence and mission in history issued by Vatican II, is called to realize that the very catholicity that makes her a leaven of unity in diversity and communion in freedom both demands and favours “the polarity between the particular and the universal, between the one and the many, between the simple and the complex. To annihilate this tension would be to go against the life of the Spirit”. What is needed, then, is to practise a way of knowing and interpreting reality in the light of the “mind of Christ” (cf. 1 Cor 2:16), wherein the model for approaching and resolving problems “is not the sphere… where every point is equidistant from the centre, and there are no differences between them”, but rather “the polyhedron, which reflects the convergence of all its parts, each of which preserves its distinctiveness”.
Indeed, “the history of the Church shows that Christianity does not have simply one cultural expression, but rather, ‘remaining completely true to itself, with unswerving fidelity to the proclamation of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church, it will also reflect the different faces of the cultures and peoples in which it is received and takes root’. In the diversity of peoples who experience the gift of God, each in accordance with its own culture, the Church expresses her genuine catholicity and shows forth ‘the beauty of her varied face’. In the Christian customs of an evangelized people, the Holy Spirit adorns the Church, showing her new aspects of revelation and giving her a new face”.
This way of seeing things clearly sets out a demanding task for theology just as, in their own specific areas of competence, for the other disciplines contemplated in ecclesiastical studies. With a fine image, Benedict XVI stated that the Church’s tradition “is not a transmission of things or of words, a collection of dead things. Tradition is the living river that links us to the origins, the living river in which the origins are ever present”. “This river irrigates various lands, feeds various geographical places, germinating the best of that land, the best of that culture. In this way, the Gospel continues to be incarnated in every corner of the world, in an ever new way”. Theology must doubtless be rooted and grounded in sacred Scripture and in the living tradition, but for this very reason it must simultaneously accompany cultural and social processes, and particularly difficult transitions. Indeed, “at this time theology must address conflicts: not only those that we experience within the Church but also those that concern the world as a whole”. This involves “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”, thus acquiring “a way of making history in a life setting where conflicts, tensions and oppositions can achieve the diversified and life-giving unity. This is not to opt for a kind of syncretism, or for the absorption of one into the other, but rather for a resolution which takes place on a higher plane and preserves what is valid and useful on both sides”.
5. The revival of ecclesiastical studies entails the pressing need to give new impulse to the scientific research conducted in our ecclesiastical universities and faculties. The Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana presented research as a “primary duty”, in constant “contact with reality… to communicate doctrine to [our] contemporaries in various cultures”. Yet in today’s multicultural and multiethnic world, new social and cultural dynamics impose a broadening of these aims. Indeed, for the Church to carry out her saving mission, “it is not enough that evangelizers be concerned to reach each person… the Gospel is also proclaimed to the cultures as a whole”. Ecclesiastical studies cannot be limited to passing on knowledge, professional competence and experience to the men and women of our time who desire to grow as Christians, but must also take up the urgent task of developing intellectual tools that can serve as paradigms for action and thought, useful for preaching in a world marked by ethical and religious pluralism. To do so calls not only for profound theological knowledge, but also the ability to conceive, design and achieve ways of presenting the Christian religion capable of a profound engagement with different cultural systems. All this calls for increased quality in scientific research and a gradual improvement in the level of theological studies and related sciences. It is not only a matter of extending the field of diagnosis and of adding to the mass of available data for interpreting reality, but of a deeper study that seeks “to communicate more effectively the truth of the Gospel in a specific context, without renouncing the truth, the goodness and the light which it can bring wherever perfection is not possible”.
It is to research conducted in ecclesiastical universities, faculties and institutes that I primarily entrust the task of developing that “creative apologetics” which I called for in Evangelii Gaudium, in order to “encourage greater openness to the Gospel on the part of all”.
Indispensable in this regard is the establishment of new and qualified centres of research where – as I proposed in Laudato Si’ – scholars from different religious universities and from different scientific fields can interact with responsible freedom and mutual transparency, thus entering into “dialogue among themselves for the sake of protecting nature, defending the poor, and building networks of respect and fraternity”. In all countries, universities constitute the main centres of scientific research for the advancement of knowledge and of society; they play a decisive role in economic social and cultural development, especially in a time like our own, marked as it is by rapid, constant and far-reaching changes in the fields of science and technology. International agreements also take account of the vital responsibility of universities for research policies and the need to coordinate them by creating networks of specialized centres in order to facilitate, not least, the mobility of researchers.
In this regard, plans are under way for outstanding interdisciplinary centres and initiatives aimed at accompanying the development of advanced technologies, the best use of human resources and programmes of integration. Ecclesiastical studies, in the spirit of a Church that “goes forth”, are likewise called to develop specialized centers capable of deeper dialogue with the different scientific fields. Specifically, shared and converging research between specialists of different disciplines represents a particular service to the people of God, and especially to the Magisterium. It also supports the Church’s mission of proclaiming the good news of Christ to all, in dialogue with the different sciences and in the service of a deeper understanding and application of truth in the life of individuals and society.
Ecclesiastical studies will thus be poised to make their specific and unique contribution of inspiration and guidance, and will be able to articulate and express in a new, challenging and realistic way their proper task. So it has always been and so shall it ever be! Theology and Christian culture have lived up to their mission whenever they were ready to take risks and remain faithful on the borderline. “The questions of our people, their suffering, their battles, their dreams, their trials, their worries possess an interpretational value that we cannot ignore if we want to take the principle of the Incarnation seriously. Their wondering helps us to wonder ourselves, their questions question us. All this helps us to delve into the mystery of the Word of God, the Word that requires and asks that we dialogue, that we enter into communion”.
6. What is taking shape before us today is “a great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal”. This is also the case for ecclesiastical faculties and universities.
May a joyful and unshaken faith in Jesus, crucified and risen, the centre and Lord of history, guide, enlighten and sustain us in these demanding and exciting times marked by commitment to a renewed and far-sighted overall configuration of ecclesiastical studies. Christ’s resurrection, with the superabundant gift of the Holy Spirit, “everywhere calls forth seeds of this new world; even if they are cut back, they grow again, for the resurrection is already secretly woven into the fabric of this history”.
May Mary Most Holy, who at the message of the angel conceived with ineffable joy the Word of Truth, accompany our journey. May she obtain from the Father of all good things the blessing of light and of love that we await, with hope and childlike trust, from her Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ, in the joy of the Holy Spirit!
Nature and Purpose of Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties
Article 1. To carry out the ministry of evangelization given to the Church by Christ, the Church has the right and duty to erect and promote Universities and Faculties which depend upon herself.
Article 2. § 1. In this Constitution the terms Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties mean those institutions of higher education which have been canonically erected or approved by the Apostolic See, which foster and teach sacred doctrine and the sciences connected therewith, and which have the right to confer academic degrees by the authority of the Holy See.
§ 2. They can be an Ecclesiastical University or Faculty sui iuris; or an Ecclesiastical Faculty within a Catholic University, or an Ecclesiastical Faculty within some other kind of University.
Article 3. The purpose of Ecclesiastical Faculties are:
§ 1. through scientific research to cultivate and promote their own disciplines, i.e. those directly or indirectly connected with Christian revelation or which directly serve the mission of the Church, and therefore especially to deepen knowledge of Christian revelation and of matters connected with it, to enunciate systematically the truths contained therein, to consider in the light of revelation the most recent progress of the sciences, and to present them to the people of the present day in a manner adapted to various cultures;
§ 2. to train the students to a level of high qualification in their own disciplines, according to Catholic doctrine, to prepare them properly to face their tasks, and to promote the continuing permanent education of the ministers of the Church;
§ 3. to collaborate intensely, in accordance with their own nature and in close communion with the Hierarchy, with the local and the universal Church the whole work of evangelization.
Article 4. It is the duty of Bishops’ Conferences to follow carefully the life and progress of Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties, because of their special ecclesial importance.
Article 5. The canonical erection or approval of Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties is reserved to the Congregation for Catholic Education, which governs them according to law.
Article 6. Only Universities and Faculties canonically erected or approved by the Holy See and ordered according to the norms of this present Constitution have the right to confer academic degrees which have canonical value, with the exception of the special right of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
Article 7. The Statutes of each University or Faculty, which must be drawn up in accordance with the present Constitution, require approval by the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Article 8. Ecclesiastical Faculties erected or approved by the Holy See in non-Ecclesiastical universities, which confer both canonical and civil academic degrees, must observe the prescriptions of the present Constitution, while respecting the bilateral and multilateral conventions signed by the Holy See with various nations or with the universities themselves.
Article 9. § 1. Faculties which have not been canonically erected or approved by the Holy See may not confer academic degrees having canonical value.
§ 2. Academic degrees conferred by such Faculties, if they are to have value for some canonical effects only, require the recognition of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
§ 3. For this recognition to be given for individual degrees for a special reason, the conditions laid down by the Congregation must be fulfilled.
Article 10. For the correct carrying out of the present Constitution, the Norms of Application issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education must be observed.
The Academic Community and Its Government
Article 11. § 1. The University or Faculty is community of study, research and formation, which operates, on an official level, in pursuit of its primary aims, listed in article 3, in conformity with the principles of the evangelizing mission of the Church.
§ 2. Within the academic community, all the people, either as individuals or as members of councils, are, each according to his or her own status, co-responsible for the common good and must strive to work for the same community’s goals.
§ 3. Therefore, their rights and duties within the academic community must be accurately set down in the Statutes, to ensure that they are properly exercised within correctly established limits.
Article 12. The Chancellor represents the Holy See to the University or Faculty and equally the University or Faculty to the Holy See. He promotes the continuation and progress of the University or Faculty and he fosters its communion with the local and universal Church.
Article 13. § 1. The University or Faculty legally depends on the Chancellor, unless the Holy See has established otherwise.
§ 2. Where conditions favour such a post, it is also possible to have a Vice-Chancellor, whose authority is determined in the Statutes.
Article 14. If the Chancellor is someone other than the local Ordinary, the statutory norms are to establish how the Ordinary and the Chancellor carry out their respective offices in mutual accord.
Article 15. The academic authorities are personal and collegial. Personal authorities are, in the first place, the Rector or President and the Dean. The collegial authorities are the various directive organisms or councils of both the University and Faculty.
Article 16. The Statutes of the University or Faculty must very carefully set out the names and offices of the academic authorities, determining the way they are designated and their term of office, taking into account both the canonical nature of the individual University or Faculty and the university practice in the local area.
Article 17. Those designed as academic authorities are to be people who are truly knowledgeable about university life and, usually, who come from among the teachers of some Faculty.
Article 18. The following office-holders are appointed, or at least confirmed, by the Congregation for Catholic Education:
- the Rector of an Ecclesiastical University;
- the President of an Ecclesiastical Faculty sui iuris;
- the Dean of an Ecclesiastical Faculty that forms part of a Catholic University or another kind of University.
Article 19. § 1. The Statutes determine how the personal and the collegial authorities are to collaborate with each other, so that, carefully observing the principle of collegiality, especially in more serious matters and above all in those of an academic nature, the persons in authority will enjoy that exercise of power which really corresponds to their office.
§ 2. This applies, in the first place, to the Rector, who has the duty to govern the entire University and to promote, in suitable ways, its unity, cooperation and progress.
Article 20. § 1. When Faculties are parts of an Ecclesiastical University or a Catholic University, their governance must be suitably coordinated through the Statutes with the governance of the entire University in such a way that the good of the single Faculties is assured at the same time that the good of the whole University is promoted, and the cooperation of all the Faculties with each other is favoured.
§ 2. The canonical exigencies of Ecclesiastical Faculties must be safeguarded even when such Faculties are inserted into another kind of University.
Article 21. When a Faculty is joined to a major seminary or college, the Statutes, while always having due concern for cooperation in everything pertaining to the students’ good, must clearly and effectively provide that the academic direction and administration of the Faculty are correctly distinct from the governance and administration of the major seminary or college.
Article 22. In each Faculty there must be a number of teachers, especially permanent ones, which corresponds to the importance and development of the individual disciplines as well as to the proper care and profit of the students.
Article 23. There must be various ranks of teachers, determined in the Statutes, according to their measure of preparation, their insertion into the Faculty, their permanence, and their responsibilities within the Faculty, taking into account the university practice of the local area.
Article 24. The Statutes are to define which authorities are responsible for hiring, naming, and promoting teachers, especially when it is a question of giving them a permanent position.
Article 25. § 1. To be legitimately hired as a permanent teacher in a Faculty, a person must:
1) be distinguished by wealth of knowledge, witness of Christian and ecclesial life, and a sense of responsibility;
2) have a suitable Doctorate or equivalent title or exceptional and singular scientific accomplishment;
3) show documentary proof of suitability for doing scientific research, especially by a published dissertation;
4) demonstrate teaching ability.
§ 2. These requirements for taking on permanent teachers must be applied also, in proportionate measure, for hiring non-permanent ones.
§ 3. In hiring teachers, the scientific requirements in current force in the university practice of the local area should be taken into account.
Article 26. § 1. All teachers of every rank must be marked by an upright life, integrity of doctrine, and devotion to duty, so that they can effectively contribute to the proper goals of an Ecclesiastical academic institution. Should any of these requirements subsequently cease to be, the teachers must be removed from their post, observing the established procedures.
§ 2. Those who teach matters touching on faith and morals are to be conscious of their duty to carry out their work in full communion with the authentic Magisterium of the Church, above all, with that of the Roman Pontiff.
Article 27. § 1 Those who teach disciplines concerning faith or morals must receive, after making their profession of faith, a canonical mission from the Chancellor or his delegate, for they do not teach on their own authority but by virtue of the mission they have received from the Church. The other teachers must receive permission to teach from the Chancellor or his delegate.
§ 2. All teachers, before they are given a permanent post or before they are promoted to the highest category of teacher, or else in both cases, as the Statutes are to state, must receive a declaration of nihil obstat from the Holy See.
Article 28. Promotion to the higher ranks of teachers is to take place only after a suitable interval of time and with due reference to teaching skill, to research accomplished, to the publication of scientific works, to the spirit of cooperation in teaching and in research, and to commitment to the Faculty.
Article 29. The teachers, in order to carry out their tasks satisfactorily, must be free from other employment which cannot be reconciled with their duty to do research and to instruct, according to what the Statutes require for each rank of teacher.
Article 30. The Statutes must state:
a) when and under which conditions a teaching post ends;
b) for what reasons and in which ways a teacher can be suspended, removed, or even deprived of his post, so as to safeguard suitably the rights of the teachers, of the Faculty or University, and, above all, of the students and also of the ecclesial community.
Article 31. Ecclesiastical Faculties are open to all who can legally give testimony to leading a moral life and to having completed the previous studies appropriate to enrolling in the Faculty.
Article 32. § 1. To enrol in a Faculty in order to obtain an academic degree, one must present that kind of study title which would be necessary to permit enrolment in a civil university of one’s own country or of the country where the Faculty is located.
§ 2. The Faculty, in its own Statutes, should determine what, besides what is contained in § 1 above, is needed for entrance into its course of study, including ancient and modern language requirements.
§ 3. The Faculty should also determine in its Statutes procedures for evaluating the ways to treat the cases of refugees, exiles and persons in similar situations who lack the normal documentation required.
Article 33. Students must faithfully observe the laws of the Faculty about the general programme and about discipline – in the first place about the Plan of Studies, class attendance, and examinations – as well as all that pertains to the life of the Faculty. For this reason, the University and the individual Faculties should arrange ways for the students to know the Statutes and Rule.
Article 34. The Statutes should define how the students, either individually or collectively, take part in the academic community life in those aspects in which they can contribute to the common good of the Faculty or University.
Article 35. The Statutes should equally determine how the students can, for serious reasons, be suspended from certain rights or be deprived of them or even be expelled from the Faculty, in such a way that the rights of the student, of the Faculty or University, and also of the ecclesial community are appropriately protected.
Officials and Administrative and Service Personnel
Article 36. § 1. In governing and administering a University or Faculty, the authorities are to be assisted by officials trained for various tasks.
§ 2. The officials are, first of all, the Secretary, the Librarian, the Financial Procurator, and others whom the institution considers necessary. Their rights and duties must be established in the Statutes or Rule.
Plan of Studies
Article 37. § 1. In arranging the studies, the principles and norms which for different matters are contained in ecclesiastical documents, especially those of the Second Vatican Council, must be carefully observed. At the same time account must be taken of sound advances coming from scientific progress which can contribute to answering the questions being currently asked.
§ 2. In the single Faculties let that scientific method be used which corresponds to the needs of the individual sciences. Up-to-date didactic and teaching methods should be applied in an appropriate way, in order to bring about the personal involvement of the students and their active participation in their studies.
Article 38. § 1. Following the norm of the Second Vatican Council, according to the nature of each Faculty:
1) just freedom should be acknowledged in research and teaching so that true progress can be obtained in learning and understanding divine truth.
2) At the same time let it be clear that:
a) true freedom in teaching is necessarily contained within the limits of God’s Word, as this is constantly taught by the Church’s Magisterium;
b) likewise, true freedom in research is necessarily based upon firm adherence to God’s Word and deference to the Church’s Magisterium, whose duty it is to interpret authentically the Word of God.
§ 2. Therefore, in such a weighty matter one must proceed with trust, and without suspicion, but the same time with prudence and without rashness, especially in teaching; moreover, one must carefully harmonize the necessities of science with the pastoral needs of the People of God.
Article 39. In each Faculty the curriculum of studies is to be suitably organized in steps or cycles, adapted to the material. They are usually as follows:
a) first, a general instruction is imparted, covering a coordinated presentation of all the disciplines, along with an introduction into scientific methodology;
b) next, one section of the disciplines is studied more profoundly, at the same time that the students practise scientific research more fully;
c) finally, there is progress toward scientific maturity, especially through a piece of written work that truly makes a contribution to the advance of the science.
Article 40. § 1. The disciplines which are absolutely necessary for the Faculty to achieve its purposes should be determined. Those also should be set out which in a different way are helpful to these purposes and, therefore, how these are suitably distinguished one from another.
§ 2. In each Faculty the disciplines should be arranged in such a way that they form an organic body, so as to serve the solid and coherent formation of the students and to facilitate collaboration by the teachers.
Article 41. Lectures, especially in the basic cycle, must be given, and the students must attend them, according to the norms to be determined in the Plan of Studies.
Article 42. Practical exercises and seminars, mainly in the specialization cycle, must be assiduously carried on under the direction of the teachers. These ought to be constantly complemented by private study and frequent discussions with the teachers.
Article 43. The Plan of Studies of the Faculty is to define which examinations or which equivalent tests the students are to take, whether written or oral, at the end of the semester or year, and especially of the cycle, so that their ability can be verified in regard to continuing in the Faculty and in regard to receiving academic degrees.
Article 44. Likewise the Statutes or Rule are to determine what value is to given for studies taken elsewhere, especially in regard to being dispensed from some disciplines or examinations or even in regard to reducing the curriculum, always, however, respecting the prescriptions of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Academic Degrees and Other Awards
Article 45. § 1. After each cycle of the curriculum of studies, the suitable academic degree can be conferred, which must be established for each Faculty, with attention given to the duration of the cycle and to the disciplines taught in it.
§ 2. Therefore, according to the general and special norms of this Constitution, all degrees conferred and the conditions under which they are conferred are to be determined in the Statutes of the individual Faculties.
Article 46. The academic degrees conferred by an Ecclesiastical Faculty are: Baccalaureate, Licentiate, and Doctorate.
Article 47. Academic degrees can be given different names in the Statutes of the individual Faculties, taking account of the university practice in the local area, indicating, however, with clarity the equivalence these have with the names of the academic degrees above and maintaining uniformity among the Ecclesiastical Faculties of the same area.
Article 48. Nobody can obtain an academic degree unless properly enrolled in a Faculty, completing the course of studies prescribed by the Plan of Studies, and successfully passing the examinations and possibly other means of testing.
Article 49. § 1. In order to be admitted to the Doctorate, one must first have obtained the Licentiate.
§ 2. A requisite for obtaining a Doctorate, furthermore, is a doctoral dissertation that makes a real contribution to the progress of science, written under the direction of a teacher, publicly defended and collegially approved; the principal part, at least, must be published.
Article 50. § 1. The Doctorate is the academic degree which enables one to teach in a Faculty and which is therefore required for this purpose, the Licentiate is the academic degree which enables one to teach in a major seminary or equivalent institution and which is therefore required for this purpose.
§ 2. The academic degrees which are required for filling various ecclesiastical posts are to be stated by the competent ecclesiastical authority.
Article 51. An honorary Doctorate can be conferred for special scientific or cultural merit in promoting the ecclesiastical sciences.
Article 52. As well as academic degrees, Faculties can also grant other degrees, according to the variety of Faculties and the Plan of Studies of the individual Faculties.
Article 53. In order to achieve its proper purposes, especially in regard to scientific research, each University or Faculty must have an adequate library, in keeping with the needs of the teachers and students. It must be correctly organized and equipped with an appropriate catalogue.
Article 54. Through an annual allotment of money, the library must continually acquire books, old and new, as well as the principal reviews, so as to be able effectively to serve research, teaching of the disciplines, instructional needs, and the practical exercises and seminars.
Article 55. The library must be headed by a trained librarian, assisted by a suitable council. The librarian participates opportunely in the Council of the University or Faculty.
Article 56. § 1. The Faculty must also have information and technical audio-visual equipment, etc., to assist its didactic and research work.
§ 2. In relationship to the special nature and purpose of a University or Faculty, research institutions and scientific laboratories should also be available, as well as other instruments needed for the accomplishment of its ends.
Article 57. A University or Faculty must have enough money to achieve its purposes properly. Its financial endowments and its property rights are to be carefully described.
Article 58. The Statutes are to determine the duty of the Financial Officer as well as the part the Rector or President and the University or Faculty Council play in money matters, according to the norms of good economics and so as to preserve healthy administration.
Article 59. The teaching and non-teaching personnel are to be paid a suitable remuneration, taking account of the customs of the local area, and also taking into consideration pensions and insurance protection.
Article 60. Likewise, the Statutes are to determinate the general norms that will indicate the ways the students are to contribute to the expenses of the University or Faculty, by paying academic fees.
Strategic Planning and Cooperation of Faculties
Article 61. § 1. Great care must be given to what is called strategic planning, so as to provide for the preservation and progress of Universities and Faculties, as well as their suitable distribution in the various parts of the world.
§ 2. To accomplish this end, the Congregation for Catholic Education is to be helped by advice from the Bishops’ Conferences and from a commission of experts.
Article 62. § 1. The erection or approval of a new University or Faculty is decided upon by the Congregation for Catholic Education when all the requirements are fulfilled. In this the Congregation listens to the local Ordinary or Eparch, the Bishops’ Conference, and experts especially from neighbouring Faculties.
§ 2. Four Ecclesiastical Faculties are needed to erect canonically an Ecclesiastical University; three Ecclesiastical Faculties for an Ecclesiastical Athenaeum.
§ 3. An Ecclesiastical University and an Ecclesiastical Faculty sui iuris possess ipso iure public juridic personality.
§ 4. It pertains to the Congregation for Catholic Education to grant by decree juridic personality to an Ecclesiastical Faculty that is part of a civil University.
Article 63. § 1. Affiliation of some institution with a Faculty for the purpose of being able to grant the Baccalaureate is approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education, after the conditions established by that same Congregation are fulfilled.
§ 2. It is highly desirable that theological study centres, whether diocesan or religious, be affiliated to a Faculty of Theology.
Article 64. Aggregation to a Faculty and incorporation into a Faculty by an institution for the purposes of also granting higher academic degrees is decided upon by the Congregation for Catholic Education, after the conditions established by that same Congregation are fulfilled.
Article 65. The erection of a Higher Institute of Religious Sciences requires it to be linked with a Faculty of Theology, according to the particular norms published by the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Article 66. Cooperation between Faculties, whether of the same University or of the same region or of a wider territorial area, is to be diligently striven for. In fact, such cooperation is of great help in promoting the scientific research of the teachers and a better formation of the students. It also fosters the advance of interdisciplinary collaboration, which appears to be ever more necessary, and it contributes to the development of complementarity among the various Faculties. In general, it also helps to bring about the diffusion of Christian wisdom throughout all culture.
Article 67. Whenever an Ecclesiastical University or Faculty no longer fulfils the conditions that were necessary for its erection or approval, it pertains to the Congregation for Catholic Education, having previously adverted the Chancellor and the Rector or President, according to the circumstances and after having heard the opinion of the diocesan or eparchial Bishop and of the Bishops’ Conference, to take the decision to suspend its academic rights, to revoke its approval as an Ecclesiastical University or Faculty, or to suppress the institute.
Article 68. Besides the norms common to all Ecclesiastical Faculties, which are established in the first part of this Constitution, special norms are given here-under for certain of those Faculties, because of their particular nature and importance for the Church.
Faculty of Theology
Article 69. A Faculty of Theology has the aim of profoundly studying and systematically explaining, according to the scientific method proper to it, Catholic doctrine, derived with the greatest care from divine revelation. It has the further aim of carefully seeking the solution to human problems in the light of that same revelation.
Article 70. § 1. The study of Sacred Scripture is, as it were, the soul of Theology, which rests upon the written Word of God together with living Tradition, as its perpetual foundation.
§ 2. The individual theological disciplines are to be taught in such a way that, from their internal structure and from the proper object of each as well as from their connection with other disciplines, such as Canon Law and Philosophy as well as the anthropological sciences, the basic unity of theological instruction is quite clear, and in such a way that all the disciplines converge in a profound understanding of the mystery of Christ, so that this can be announced with greater effectiveness to the People of God and to all nations.
Article 71. § 1. Revealed truth must be considered also in connection with the scientific accomplishments of evolving time, so that it can be seen “how faith and reason give harmonious witness to the unity of all truth.” Also, its exposition is to be such that, without any change of the truth, there is adaptation to the nature and character of every culture, taking special account of the philosophy and the wisdom of various peoples. However, all syncretism and every kind of false particularism are to be excluded.
§ 2. The positive values in the various cultures and philosophies are to be sought out, carefully examined, and taken up. However, systems and methods incompatible with Christian faith must not be accepted.
Article 72. § 1. Ecumenical questions are to be carefully treated, according to the norms of competent Church authorities.
§ 2. Also to be carefully considered are relationships with non-Christian religions.
§ 3. Problems arising from atheism and other currents of contemporary culture are to be scrupulously studied.
Article 73. In studying and teaching the Catholic doctrine, fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church is always to be emphasized. In the carrying out of teaching duties, especially in the basic cycle, those things are, above all, to be imparted which belong to the received patrimony of the Church. Hypothetical or personal opinions which come from new research are to be modestly presented as such.
Article 74. The curriculum of studies of the Faculty of Theology comprises:
a) the first cycle, fundamentals, which lasts for five years or ten semesters, or else, when a previous two-year Philosophy course is an entrance requirement, for three years or six semesters.
The first two years must be primarily dedicated to a solid philosophical formation, which is necessary for undertaking correctly the study of theology. The Baccalaureate obtained in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy substitutes for first-cycle philosophy courses in theology Faculties. A Baccalaureate in Philosophy obtained in a non-Ecclesiastical Faculty does not give grounds for dispensing a student completely from the first-cycle philosophy courses in Theology Faculties.
The theological disciplines must be taught in such a way that what is presented is an organic exposition of the whole of Catholic doctrine, together with an introduction to theological scientific methodology.
The cycle ends with the academic degree of Baccalaureate or some other suitable degree as the Statutes of the Faculty determine.
b) the second cycle, specialization, which lasts for two years or four semesters. In this cycle the particular disciplines are taught corresponding to the nature of the diverse specializations being undertaken. Also seminars and practical exercises are conducted for the acquisition of the ability to do scientific research.
The cycle concludes with the academic degree of specialized Licentiate.
c) the third cycle, in which for a suitable period of time scientific formation is brought to completion, especially through the writing of a doctrinal dissertation.
The cycle concludes with the academic degree of Doctorate.
Article 75. § 1. To enrol in a Faculty of Theology, the student must have done the previous studies called for in accordance with article 32 of this Constitution.
§ 2. Where the first cycle of the Faculty lasts for only three years, the student must submit proof of having properly completed a two-year course in philosophy at an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy or at an approved institution.
Article 76. § 1. A Faculty of Theology has the special duty of taking care of the scientific theological formation of those preparing for the priesthood and those who are preparing to hold some particular ecclesiastical office; therefore, it is necessary that there be a suitable number of priest teachers.
§ 2. For this purpose, special courses suitable for seminarians should be offered. It is also appropriate for the Faculty itself to offer the “pastoral year” required for the priesthood, in addition to the five-year basic cycle. At the end of this year, a special Diploma may be conferred.
Faculty of Canon Law
Article 77. A Faculty of Canon Law, whether Latin or Oriental, has the aim of cultivating and promoting the juridical disciplines in the light of the law of the Gospel and of deeply instructing the students in these, so as to form researchers, teachers, and others who will be trained to hold special ecclesiastical posts.
a) the first cycle, lasting for four semesters or two years, for those who have no previous training in philosophy or theology, including those who already hold an academic degree in civil law; in this cycle students should study the fundamental concepts of canon law and the philosophical and theological disciplines required for an advanced formation in canon law;
b) the second cycle, lasting for six semesters or three years, during which the canon law in all its expressions – normative, jurisprudential, doctrinal, praxis, and especially the Code of the Latin Church or of the Oriental Churches – should be studied in depth, by way of the complete study of its sources, both magisterial and disciplinary, along with other disciplines having an affinity with it;
c) the third cycle, lasting for a suitable period of time, in which students perfect the canon law training necessary for scholarly research in view of preparing a doctoral dissertation.
Article 79. § 1. With regard to the studies prescribed for the first cycle, the Faculty may make use of the studies done in another Faculty and which it can acknowledge as responding to its needs.
§ 2. The second cycle concludes with the Licentiate and the third with the Doctorate.
§ 3. The Plan of Studies of the Faculty is to define the special requirements for the conferring of the academic degrees, observing the prescriptions of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Article 80. To enrol in a Faculty of Canon Law, the student must have done the previous studies called for in accordance with article 32 of this Constitution.
Faculty of Philosophy
Article 81. § 1. An Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy has the aim of investigating philosophical problems according to scientific methodology, basing itself on a heritage of perennially valid philosophy. It has to search for solutions in the light of natural reason and, furthermore, it has to demonstrate their consistency with the Christian view of the world, of man, and of God, placing in a proper light the relationship between philosophy and theology.
§ 2. Then, the students are to be instructed so as to make them ready to teach and to fill other suitable intellectual posts as well as to prepare them to promote Christian culture and to undertake a fruitful dialogue with the people of our time.
Article 82. The curriculum of studies in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy includes:
a) the first cycle, basics, in which for three years or six semesters an organic exposition of the various parts of philosophy is imparted, which includes treating the world, man, and God. It also includes the history of philosophy, together with an introduction into the method of scientific research;
b) the second cycle, the beginning of specialization, in which for two years or four semesters through special disciplines and seminars a more profound consideration is imparted in some sector of philosophy;
c) the third cycle, in which, for a period of at least three years, philosophical maturity is promoted, especially by means of writing a doctoral dissertation.
Article 83. The first cycle ends with the degree of Baccalaureate, the second with the specialized Licentiate, and the third with the Doctorate.
Article 84. To enrol in the first cycle of a Faculty of Philosophy, the student must have done the previous studies called for in accordance with article 32 of this Apostolic Constitution.
If a student, who has successfully completed the regular philosophy courses in the first cycle of a Theology Faculty, wants to continue philosophical studies in order to obtain the Baccalaureate in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, due account must be taken of the courses that the student has attended during the aforementioned studies.
Article 85. Besides the Faculties of Theology, Canon Law, and Philosophy, other Faculties have been or can be canonically erected, according to the needs of the Church and with a view to attaining certain goals, as for instance:
a) a more profound study of certain sciences which are of greater importance to the theological, juridical, philosophical and historical disciplines;
b) the promotion of other sciences, first of all the humanities, which have a close connection with the theological disciplines or with the work of evangelization;
c) the deeper cultivation of literature, so that it can provide a special help both for a better understanding of Christian revelation and for carrying on more efficaciously the work of evangelization;
d) finally, a more accurate preparation both of clerics and laity so that they may worthily carry out some special duties of the apostolate.
Article 86. It belongs to the Congregation for Catholic Education to set out, in accordance with circumstances, special norms for these Faculties or Institutes, just as has been done in the above sections for the Faculties of Theology, Canon Law, and Philosophy.
Article 87. The Faculties and Institutes for which special norms have not yet been set out must also draw up their own Statutes. These must conform to the General Norms established in the first part of this Constitution, and they must take into account the special nature and purpose proper to each of these Faculties or Institutes.
Article 88. This present Constitution will come into effect on the first day of the 2018-2019 academic year or of the 2019 academic year, according to the academic calendar in use in various places.
Article 89. § 1. Each University or Faculty must, before December 8, 2019, present its Statutes and Plan of Studies, revised according to this Constitution, to the Congregation for Catholic Education.
§ 2. Any modifications to the Statutes or Plan of Studies require the approval of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Article 90. In each Faculty the studies must be arranged so that the students can acquire academic degrees according to the norms of this Constitution, preserving the students’ previously acquired rights.
Article 91. The Statutes and the Plan of Studies of new Faculties are to be approved ad experimentum so that, within the three-year period after approval, they may be perfected with a view to being approved definitively.
Article 92. Those Faculties which have a juridical connection with civil authorities may, if necessary, be given a longer period of time to revise their Statutes, with the permission of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Article 93. § 1. It is the task of the Congregation for Catholic Education, when, with the passage of time, circumstances shall require it, to propose changes to be introduced into this Constitution, so that this same Constitution may be continuously adapted to the new needs of Ecclesiastical Faculties.
§ 2. Only the Congregation for Catholic Education can dispense from observing any article of this Constitution or Norms of Application, or from the approved Statutes and Plan of Studies of each University or Faculty.
Article 94. All laws and customs presently obtaining which are in contradiction to this Constitution are abrogated, whether these are universal or local, even if they are worthy of special or individual mention. Likewise completely abrogated are all privileges hitherto granted by the Holy See to any person, whether physical or moral, if these are contrary to the prescriptions of this Constitution.
All that I have laid down in this Apostolic Constitution, I order be observed in full, anything whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding, even if worthy of particular mention, and that it be published in the official gazette Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the year 2017, the fifth of my Pontificate.
Foreword of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana (1979)
Christian wisdom, which the Church teaches by divine authority, continuously inspires the faithful of Christ zealously to endeavour to relate human affairs and activities with religious values in a single living synthesis. Under the direction of these values all things are mutually connected for the glory of God and the integral development of the human person, a development that includes both corporal and spiritual well - being.
Indeed, the Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel not only demands that the Good News be preached ever more widely and to ever greater numbers of men and women, but that the very power of the Gospel should permeate thought patterns, standards of judgment, and norms of behaviour; in a word, it is necessary that the whole of human culture be steeped in the Gospel.
The cultural atmosphere in which a human being lives has a great influence upon his or her way of thinking and, thus, of acting. Therefore, a division between faith and culture is more than a small impediment to evangelization, while a culture penetrated with the Christian spirit is an instrument that favours the spreading of the Good News.
Furthermore, the Gospel is intended for all peoples of every age and land and is not bound exclusively to any particular culture. It is valid for pervading all cultures so as to illumine them with the light of divine revelation and to purify human conduct, renewing them in Christ.
For this reason, the Church of Christ strives to bring the Good News to every sector of humanity so as to be able to convert the consciences of human beings, both individually and collectively, and to fill with the light of the Gospel their works and undertakings, their entire lives, and, indeed, the whole of the social environment in which they are engaged. In this way the Church carries out her mission of evangelizing also by advancing human culture.
In this activity of the Church with regard to culture, Catholic universities have had and still have special importance. By their nature they aim to secure that “the Christian outlook should acquire a public, stable and universal influence in the whole process of the promotion of higher culture.”
In fact, as my Predecessor Pope Pius XI recalled in the preface to the Apostolic Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus, there arose within the Church, from her earliest period, didascaleia for imparting instruction in Christian wisdom so that people’s lives and conduct might be formed. From these houses of Christian wisdom the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church, teachers and ecclesiastical writers, drew their knowledge.
With the passing of centuries schools were established in the neighbourhood of cathedrals and monasteries, thanks especially to the zealous initiatives of bishops and monks. These schools imparted both ecclesiastical doctrine and secular culture, forming them into one whole. From these schools arose the universities, those glorious institutions of the Middle Ages which, from their beginning, had the Church as their most bountiful mother and patroness.
Subsequently, when civil authorities, to promote the common good, began and developed their own universities, the Church, loyal to her very nature, did not desist from founding and favouring such kinds of centres of learning and institutions of instruction. This is shown by the considerable number of Catholic universities established in recent times in nearly all parts of the world. Conscious of her worldwide salvific mission, the Church wishes to be especially joined to these centres of higher learning and she desires that they flourish everywhere and work effectively to make Christ’s true message present in the field of human culture and to make it advance in that field.
In order that Catholic universities might better achieve this goal, my Predecessor Pope Pius XII sought to stimulate their united activity when, by his Apostolic Brief of July 27, 1949, he formally established the International Federation of Catholic Universities. It was “to include all Athenaea which the Holy See either has canonically erected or will in the future erect in the world, or will have explicitly recognized as following the norms of Catholic teaching and as completely in conformity with that teaching.”
The Second Vatican Council, for this reason, did not hesitate to affirm that “the Church devotes considerable care to schools of higher learning,” and it strongly recommended that Catholic universities should “be established in suitable locations throughout the world” and that “the students of these institutions should be truly outstanding in learning, ready to shoulder duties of major responsibility in society and to witness to the faith before the world.” As the Church well knows, “the future of society and of the Church herself is closely bound up with the development of young people engaged in higher studies.”
It is not surprising, however, that among Catholic universities the Church has always promoted with special care Ecclesiastical Faculties and Universities, which is to say those concerned particularly with Christian revelation and questions connected therewith and which are therefore more closely connected with her mission of evangelization.
In the first place, the Church has entrusted to these Faculties the task of preparing with special care students for the priestly ministry, for teaching the sacred sciences, and for the more arduous tasks of the apostolate. It is also the task of these Faculties “to explore more profoundly the various areas of the sacred disciplines so that day by day a deeper understanding of sacred revelation will be developed, the heritage of Christian wisdom handed down by our ancestors will be more plainly brought into view, dialogue will be fostered with our separated brothers and sisters and with non - Christians, and solutions will be found for problems raised by doctrinal progress.”
In fact, new sciences and new discoveries pose new problems that involve the sacred disciplines and demand an answer. While carrying out their primary duty of attaining through theological research a deeper grasp of revealed truth, those engaged in the sacred sciences should therefore maintain contact with scholars of other disciplines, whether these are believers or not, and should try to evaluate and interpret the latters’ affirmations and judge them in the light of revealed truth.
From this assiduous contact with reality, theologians are also encouraged to seek a more suitable way of communicating doctrine to their contemporaries working in other various fields of knowledge, for “the deposit of faith, or the truths contained in our venerable doctrine, is one thing; quite another is the way in which these truths are formulated, while preserving the same sense and meaning.” This will be very useful so that among the People of God religious practice and uprightness of soul may proceed at an equal pace with the progress of science and technology, and so that, in pastoral work, the faithful may be gradually led to a purer and more mature life of faith.
The possibility of a connection with the mission of evangelization also exists in Faculties of other sciences which, although lacking a special link with Christian revelation, can still help considerably in the work of evangelizing. These are looked at by the Church precisely under this aspect when they are erected as Ecclesiastical Faculties. They therefore have a particular relationship with the Church’s Hierarchy.
Thus, the Apostolic See, in carrying out its mission, is clearly aware of its right and duty to erect and promote Ecclesiastical Faculties dependent on itself, either with a separate existence or as parts of universities, Faculties destined for the education of both ecclesiastical and lay students. This See is very desirous that the whole People of God, under the guidance of their Shepherds, should cooperate to ensure that these centres of learning contribute effectively to the growth of the faith and of Christian life.
Ecclesiastical Faculties – which are ordered to the common good of the Church and have a valuable relationship with the whole ecclesial community – ought to be conscious of their importance in the Church and of their participation in the ministry of the Church. Indeed, those Faculties which treat of matters that are close to Christian revelation should also be mindful of the orders which Christ, the Supreme Teacher, gave to His Church regarding this ministry: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19 - 20). From this it follows that there must be in these Faculties that adherence by which they are joined to the full doctrine of Christ, whose authentic guardian and interpreter has always been through the ages the Magisterium of the Church.
Bishops’ Conferences in the individual nations and regions where these Faculties exist must diligently see to their care and progress, at the same time that they ceaselessly promote their fidelity to the Church’s doctrine, so that these Faculties may bear witness before the whole community of the faithful to their wholehearted following of the above-mentioned command of Christ. This witness must always be borne both by the Faculty as such and by each and every member of the Faculty. Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties have been constituted in the Church for the building up and perfecting of Christ’s faithful, and they must always bear this in mind as a criterion in the carrying out of their work.
Teachers are invested with very weighty responsibility in fulfilling a special ministry of the word of God and in being instructors of the faith for the young. Let them, above all, therefore be for their students, and for the rest of the faithful, witnesses of the living truth of the Gospel and examples of fidelity to the Church. It is fitting to recall the serious words of Pope Paul VI: “The task of the theologian is carried out with a view to building up ecclesial communion so that the People of God may grow in the experience of faith.”
To attain these purposes, Ecclesiastical Faculties should be organized in such a way as to respond to the new demands of the present day. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council stated that their laws should be subjected to revision.
In fact, the Apostolic Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus, promulgated by my Predecessor Pope Pius XI on May 24, 1931, did much in its time renew higher ecclesiastical studies. However, as a result of changed circumstances, it now needs to be suitably adapted and altered.
In the course of nearly fifty years great changes have taken place not only in civil society but also in the Church herself. Important events, especially the Second Vatican Council, have occurred, events which have affected both the internal life of the Church and her external relationships with Christians of other churches, with non-Christians, and with non-believers, as well as with all those in favour of a more human civilization.
In addition, there is a steadily growing interest being shown in the theological sciences, not only among the clergy but also by lay people, who are attending theological schools in increasing numbers. These schools have, as a consequence, greatly multiplied in recent times.
Finally, a new attitude has arisen about the structure of universities and Faculties, both civil and ecclesiastical. This is a result of the justified desire for a university life open to greater participation, a desire felt by all those in any way involved in university life.
Nor can one ignore the great evolution that has taken place in pedagogical and didactic methods, which call for new ways of organizing studies. Then too there is the closer connection that is being felt more and more between various sciences and disciplines, as well as the desire for greater cooperation in the whole university environment.
To meet these new demands, the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, responding to the mandate received from the Council, already in 1967 began to study the question of renewal along the lines indicated by the Council. On May 20, 1968, it promulgated the Normae quaedam ad Constitutionem Apostolicam “Deus Scientiarum Dominus” de studiis academicis ecclesiasticis recognoscendam, which has exercised a beneficial influence during recent years.
Now, however, this work needs to be completed and perfected with a new law. This law, abrogating the Apostolic Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus and the Norms of Application attached to it, as well as the Normae quaedam published on May 20, 1968, by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, includes some still valid elements from these documents, while laying down new norms whereby the renewal that has already successfully begun can be developed and completed.
Nobody is unaware of the difficulties that appear to impede the promulgation of a new Apostolic Constitution. In the first place, there is the “passage of time” which brings changes so rapidly that it seems impossible to lay down anything stable and permanent. Then there is the “diversity of places” which seems to call for a pluralism which would make it appear almost impossible to issue common norms, valid for all parts of the world.
Since however there exist Ecclesiastical Faculties throughout the world, which are erected and approved by the Holy See and which grant academic degrees in its name, it is necessary that a certain substantial unity be respected and that the requisites for gaining academic degrees be clearly laid down and have universal value. Things which are necessary and which are foreseen as being relatively stable must be set down by law, while at the same time a proper freedom must be left for introducing into the Statutes of the individual Faculties further specifications, taking into account varying local conditions and the university customs obtaining in each region. In this way, legitimate progress in academic studies is neither hindered nor restricted, but rather is directed through right channels towards obtaining better results. Moreover, together with the legitimate differentiation of the Faculties, the unity of the Catholic Church in these centres of education will also be clear to everyone.
Therefore, the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, by command of my Predecessor Pope Paul VI, has consulted first of all, the Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties themselves, then, the departments of the Roman Curia and the other bodies interested. After this, it established a commission of experts who, under the direction of the same Congregation, have carefully reviewed the legislation covering ecclesiastical academic studies.
This work has now been successfully completed, and Pope Paul VI was about to promulgate this Constitution, as he so ardently desired to do, when he died; likewise Pope John Paul I was prevented by sudden death from doing so. After long and careful consideration of the matter, I decree and lay down, by my apostolic authority, the following laws and norms.
NORMS OF APPLICATION
OF THE CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION FOR THE CORRECT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION
The Congregation for Catholic Education, according to article 10 of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium, presents to the Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties the following Norms of Application and orders that they be faithfully observed.
Nature and Purpose of Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 1-10)
Article 1. § 1. The norms on Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties are also to be applied to the other institutions of higher education, taking into account their particular nature, congrua congruis referendo, which have been canonically erected or approved by the Holy See with the right to confer academic degrees by the authority of the same See.
§ 2. Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties, as well as the other institutions of higher education, are normally subject to evaluation by the Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO).
Article 2. With a view to promoting scientific research, a strong recommendation is given for specialized research centres, scientific periodicals and collections, and meetings of learned societies, as well as all other suitable forms of scientific cooperation.
Article 3. The tasks for which students can be prepared can be either strictly scientific, such as research or teaching, or else pastoral. Account must be taken of this diversity in the curriculum of studies and in the determining of the academic degrees, while always preserving the scientific nature of the studies for both.
Article 4. Active participation in the ministry of evangelization concerns the action of the Church in pastoral work, in ecumenism, and in missionary undertakings. It also extends to the understanding, defence and diffusion of the faith. At the same time it extends to the whole context of culture and human society.
Article 5. Bishops’ Conferences, collaborating with the Apostolic See in these matters also, are thus to follow carefully both Universities and Faculties:
1. together with the Chancellor they are to foster their progress and, while of course respecting the autonomy of science according to the mind of the Second Vatican Council, they are to be solicitous for their scientific and ecclesial condition;
2. with regard to common problems which occur within the boundaries of their own region, they are to help, inspire, and harmonize their activity;
3. while always maintaining a high scientific level, they are to take care that there is an adequate number of such academic institutions, corresponding to the needs of the Church and cultural progress in their own region;
4. to do all this, they are to constitute among themselves a commission for this purpose, which should be helped by experts.
Article 6. An institution upon which the Congregation for Catholic Education has conferred the right to grant only academic degrees of the second and third cycle is called an “Institute ad instar Facultatis”.
Article 7. § 1. In preparing the Statutes and Plan of Studies, the norms in Appendix I of these Norms of Application must be kept in mind.
§ 2. In accordance with the procedures established in the Statutes, Universities and Faculties can, on their own authority, establish By-Laws that, while following the Statutes, define in more detail matters relating to their constitution, governance and procedures.
Article 8. § 1. The canonical value of an academic degree means that such a degree enables one to assume an office in the Church for which a degree is required. This is, first of all, for teaching sacred sciences in Faculties, major seminaries, or equivalent institutions.
§ 2. The conditions to be fulfilled for the recognition of individual degrees mentioned in article 9 of the Apostolic Constitution, besides the consent of the relevant local or regional ecclesiastical authorities, concern, first of all, the college of teachers, the Plan of Studies, and the means to support scientific work.
§ 3. Degrees thus recognized, for certain canonical effects only, may never be considered simply as equal to academic canonical degrees.
The Academic Community and Its Government
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 11-21)
Article 9. The duties of the Chancellor are:
1. to promote continually the progress of the University or Faculty, to advance its scientific progress and its ecclesiastical identity, to ensure that Catholic doctrine is integrally followed, and to enforce the faithful implementation of the Statutes and the prescriptions of the Holy See;
2. to help ensure close relationships between all the different ranks and members of the community;
3. to propose to the Congregation for Catholic Education the names of those who, according to the norm of art. 18 of the Apostolic Constitution, are to be nominated or confirmed as Rector, President or Dean, as well as the names of the teachers for whom a nihil obstat is to be requested;
4. to receive the profession of faith of the Rector or President or Dean;
5. to give to or take away from the teachers the canonical mission or permission to teach, according to the norms of the Constitution;
6. to request the nihil obstat of the Congregation for the conferral of honorary doctorates;
7. to inform the Congregation for Catholic Education about more important matters and to send to that Congregation every five years a detailed report on the academic, moral, and economic condition of the University or Faculty, and its strategic plan, along with his own judgement, following the schema drawn up by the same Congregation.
Article 10. If the University or Faculty depends upon a collegial entity (for instance, on a Bishops’ Conference), one designated member of the group is to exercise the office of Chancellor.
Article 11. The local Ordinary, if he is not the Chancellor, since he has the pastoral responsibility for his Diocese, is, whenever something in the University or Faculty is known to be contrary to doctrine, morals, or ecclesiastical discipline, to take the matter to the Chancellor so that the latter may take action. In case the Chancellor does nothing, the Ordinary may have recourse to the Holy See, without prejudice to his own obligation to provide personally for action in those cases which are more serious or urgent and which carry danger for his Diocese.
Article 12. The appointment or confirmation mentioned in article 18 of the Apostolic Constitution is also required for a subsequent term of office for the office-holders cited.
Article 13. What is contained in article 19 of the Constitution must be explained further in the proper Statutes of the University or those of the individual Faculties, giving more weight, as the case may require, either to collegial or else to personal government, while always preserving both forms. Account should be taken of the university practice of the region where the Faculty is located or of the Religious Institute on which the Faculty may depend.
Article 14. Besides the University Council (Academic Senate) and the Faculty Council, both of which must everywhere exist even if under different names, the Statutes can suitably establish other special councils or commissions for directing and promoting various sectors: scientific, pedagogy, discipline, finances, etc.
Article 15. § 1. According to the Constitution, a Rector is one who presides over a University; a President is one who presides over an Institute or a Faculty sui iuris; a Dean is one who presides over a Faculty which is a part of a University; Director is one who presides over an academic institute that is aggregated or incorporated.
§ 2. The Statutes are to fix a term of office for these offices and are to determine in what way and how many consecutive times their term can be renewed.
Article 16. It belongs to the office of the Rector or President:
1. to direct, promote, and coordinate all the activity of the academic community;
2. to be the representative of the University or of the Institute or Faculty sui iuris;
3. to convoke the Council of the University or of the Institute or Faculty sui iuris and preside over the same according to the norms of the Statutes;
4. to watch over the administration of temporalities;
5. to refer more important matters to the Chancellor;
6. to ensure that, every year, the institution’s data in the data-base of the Congregation for Catholic Education be updated electronically.
Article 17. The Dean of the Faculty is:
1. to promote and coordinate all the activity of the Faculty, especially matters regarding studies, and to see to providing with due speed for their needs;
2. to convoke the Faculty Council and preside over it;
3. to admit or exclude students in the name of the Rector according to the norms of the Statutes;
4. to refer to the Rector what is done or proposed by the Faculty;
5. to see that the instructions of higher authorities are carried out;
6. to update electronically, at least once a year, the institution’s data in the data-base of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 22-30)
Article 18. § 1. Teachers who are permanently attached to a Faculty are, in the first place, those who are assumed in full and firm right and who are called Ordinary Professors. Next come Extraordinary Professors. It can also be useful to have others, according to university practice.
§ 2. Faculties must have a minimum number of permanent teachers: twelve for the Faculty of Theology (and, if necessary, at least three with the required degrees in philosophy, q.v. Norms of Application, article 57); seven for the Faculty of Philosophy; and five for the Faculty of Canon Law. Moreover, there must be either five or four in Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences, depending on whether the Institute has both the first and second cycle, or only the first cycle. All other Faculties must have at least five permanent teachers.
§ 3. Besides permanent teachers, there are usually others who are designated by various titles, in the first place those invited from other Faculties.
§ 4. Finally, to carry out certain academic functions it is also opportune to have Assistants, who must possess an appropriate degree.
Article 19. § 1. By a suitable Doctorate is meant one that corresponds to the discipline to be taught.
§ 2. In the Faculties of Theology and Canon Law, if the discipline is sacred or connected with the sacred, the Doctorate must normally be canonical. In the event that the Doctorate is not canonical, at least the canonical Licentiate is required.
§ 3. In all other Faculties, if the teacher has neither a canonical Doctorate nor a canonical Licentiate, he or she can be appointed as a permanent teacher only on condition that his or her formation is coherent with the identity of an Ecclesiastical Faculty. In evaluating candidates for teaching posts, it will be necessary to pay heed not only to their necessary expertise in the area to which they are being assigned to teach, but also to whether their publications and teaching are consonant with, and adhere to, the truth that is transmitted by the faith.
Article 20. § 1. Teachers belonging to other churches and ecclesial communities, co-opted according to the norms of competent ecclesiastical authority, require permission to teach from the Chancellor.
§ 2. Teachers belonging to other churches and ecclesial communities cannot teach doctrinal courses in the first cycle, but can teach other disciplines. In the second cycle, they can be called upon as invited teachers.
Article 21. § 1. The Statutes must establish when a permanent status is conferred in relationship with the obtaining of the nihil obstat that must be procured in accordance with article 27 of the Constitution.
§ 2. The nihil obstat of the Holy See is the declaration that, in accordance with the Constitution and the special Statutes, there appears nothing to impede a nomination which is proposed, but it does not, of itself, confer a right to teach. If some impediment should exist, this will be communicated to the Chancellor who will listen to the teacher in regard to the matter.
§ 3. If particular circumstances of time or place impede the requesting of the nihil obstat from the Holy See, the Chancellor is to take counsel with the Congregation for Catholic Education to find a suitable solution.
§ 4. In Faculties which are under special concordat law the established norms are to be followed and, if they exist, those particular norms decreed by the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Article 22. The time interval between promotions, which must be at least three years, is to be set down in the Statutes.
Article 23. § 1. Teachers, first of all the permanent ones, are to seek to collaborate with each other. It is also recommended that there be collaboration with the teachers of other Faculties, especially those with subjects that have an affinity or some connection with those of the Faculty.
§ 2. One cannot be at one and the same time a permanent teacher in more than one Faculty.
Article 24. § 1. The Statutes are to set out with care the procedure in regard to the suspension or removal of a teacher, especially in matters concerning doctrine.
§ 2. Care must be taken that, first of all, these matters be settled between the Rector or President or Dean and the teacher himself. If they are not settled there, the matters should be dealt with by an appropriate Council or committee, so that the first examination of the facts be carried out within the University or Faculty itself. If this is not sufficient, the matters are to be referred to the Chancellor, who, with the help of experts, either of the University or the Faculty or from other places, must consider the matter and provide for a solution. The teacher must always be afforded the right to know the cause and the evidence, as well as the right to explain and defend his or her own reasons. The right remains for recourse to the Holy See for a definitive solution of the case.
§ 3. However, in more grave or urgent cases, for the good of the students and the faithful, the Chancellor can suspend the teacher for the duration of the regular procedure.
Article 25. Diocesan clerics and Religious or those equivalent to them, in order to be teachers in a Faculty and to remain as such, must have the consent of their proper Ordinary, Hierarch or Superior, following the norms established in these matters by competent Church authority.
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 31-35)
Article 26. § 1. The legitimate documentation, mentioned in article 31 of the Constitution:
1. about the student’s moral life: for clergy, seminarians and Religious, this is to be given by their own Ordinary, Hierarch or Superior, or by one delegated by them; for all other persons, by some Church person;
2. about previous studies: this is in the academic level required by the norm of article 32 of the Constitution.
§ 2. Since the studies required before entry into a University differ from one country to another, the Faculty has the right and duty to investigate from the documentation whether all the disciplines have been studied which the Faculty itself considers necessary.
§ 3. A suitable knowledge of the Latin language is required for the Faculties of the sacred sciences, so that the students can understand and use the sources of these sciences as well as the documents of the Church.
§ 4. If one of the disciplines has been found not to have been studied or to have been studied in an insufficient way, the Faculty is to require that this be made up at a suitable time and verified by an examination.
Article 27. Besides ordinary students, that is, those studying for academic degrees, extraordinary students can be allowed to attend the courses, according to the norms determined in the Statutes.
Article 28. The transfer of a student from one Faculty to another can take place only at the beginning of the academic year or semester, after a careful examination of his academic and disciplinary situation. But in any event nobody can be given an academic degree unless all the requirements for the degree are fulfilled as the Statutes and Plan of Studies demand.
Article 29. In the norms which determine the suspension or the expulsion of a student from a Faculty, the student’s right to defend himself or herself must be safeguarded.
Officials and Administrative and Service Personnel
(Apostolic Constitution, article 36)
Plan of Studies
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 37-44)
Article 30. The Plan of Studies requires the approval of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Article 31. The Plan of Studies of each Faculty must define which disciplines (principal and auxiliary) are obligatory and must be followed by all, and which are free or optional.
Article 32. Equally, the Plan of Studies is to determine the practical exercises and seminars in which the students must not only be present but also actively work together with their colleagues and produce their own written papers.
Article 33. § 1. The lectures and practical exercises are to be suitably distributed so as to foster private study and personal work under the guidance of the teachers.
§ 2. Part of the courses can be realized by distance learning, if the Plan of Studies approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education foresees it and specifies its conditions, especially as regards the examinations.
Article 34. § 1. The Statutes or Rule of the University or of the Faculty are also to determine in what way the examiners are to make their judgments about candidates.
§ 2. In the final judgment about the candidates for the individual academic degrees, account is to be taken of all the marks received in the various tests in the same cycle, whether written or oral.
§ 3. In the examinations for the giving of degrees, especially the Doctorate, it is also useful to invite examiners from outside the Faculty.
Academic Degrees and Other Awards
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 45-52)
Article 35. In Ecclesiastical Universities or Faculties which are canonically erected or approved, the academic degrees are given by authority of the Holy See.
Article 36. § 1. The Statutes are to establish the necessary requisites for the preparation of the doctoral dissertation and the norms for its public defence and publication.
§ 2. Publishing the dissertation electronically is admissible, if the Plan of Studies foresees it and determines its conditions, in such a way that the dissertation be permanently accessible.
Article 37. A printed copy of the published dissertation must be sent to the Congregation for Catholic Education. It is recommended that copies also be sent to other Ecclesiastical Faculties, at least those of the same region, which deal with the same sciences.
Article 38. Authentic documents regarding the conferring of degrees are to be signed by the academic authorities, according to the Statutes, and then countersigned by the Secretary of the University or Faculty and have the appropriate seal affixed.
Article 39. In countries where the international conventions stipulated by the Holy See require it, and in institutions where the academic authorities deem it opportune, as well as the authentic documents of the academic degrees there is also to be a document with further information regarding the curriculum of studies completed (for example, the Diploma Supplement).
Article 40. Honorary doctorates are not to be conferred except with the consent of the Chancellor, who must first obtain the nihil obstat of the Holy See and listen to the opinion of the University or Faculty Council.
Article 41. So that a Faculty may grant other degrees, other than the academic degrees conferred by authority of the Holy See, it is necessary that:
1. the Congregation for Catholic Education has given its nihil obstat for the conferral of the degree in question;
2. the respective Plan of Studies establishes the nature of the degree, indicating expressly that it is not an academic degree conferred by authority of the Holy See;
3. the Diploma itself declares that the degree is not conferred by authority of the Holy See.
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 53-56)
Article 42. The University or Faculty must have lecture halls which are truly functional and worthy and suited to the teaching of the various disciplines and to the number of students.
Article 43. There must be a library open for consultation, in which are available the principal works required for the scientific work of both teachers and students.
Article 44. Library norms are to be established in such a way that access and use are made particularly easy for teachers and students.
Article 45. Cooperation and coordination between libraries of the same city and region should be fostered.
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 57-60)
Article 46. § 1. To provide for continuous good administration, the academic authorities must inform themselves at set times about the financial situation and they must provide for careful, periodic audits.
§ 2. The Rector or President is to transmit an annual report to the Chancellor on the economic situation of the University or Faculty.
Article 47. § 1. Suitable ways should be found so that tuition fees do not prevent access to academic degrees for intellectually gifted students who give good hope of one day being most useful to the Church.
§ 2. Therefore care must be taken to set up for the students’ benefit particular forms of economic subsidy, funded by the Church, civil authorities or privately.
Strategic Planning and Cooperation of Faculties
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 61-67)
Article 48. § 1. In order to undertake the erection of a new University or Faculty, it is necessary that:
a) a true need or usefulness can be demonstrated, which cannot be satisfied by affiliation, aggregation, or incorporation,
b) the necessary prerequisites are present, which are mainly:
1. permanently engaged teachers who in number and quality respond to the nature and demands of a Faculty;
2. a suitable number of students;
3. a library with instruments for scientific work, and lecture halls;
4. economic means really sufficient for a University or Faculty;
c) the Statutes, together with the Plan of Studies, be presented, which are to be in conformity with this Constitution and with these Norms of Application.
§ 2. The Congregation for Catholic Education - after listening to the advice both of the Bishops’ Conference and of the diocesan or eparchial Bishop, mainly from the pastoral viewpoint, and next of experts, principally from nearby Faculties, mainly from the scientific viewpoint - will decide about the suitability of a new erection.
Article 49. When, on the other hand, the approval of a University or Faculty is undertaken, this is to be done:
a) after the consent of both the Bishops’ Conference and of the diocesan or eparchial Bishop has been obtained;
b) after the conditions stated in article 48, § 1, under b) and c) are fulfilled.
Article 50. The conditions for affiliation regard, above all, the number and qualification of teachers, the Plan of Studies, the library, and the duty of the affiliating Faculty to help the institution being affiliated. Therefore, it is usually required that the affiliating Faculty and the affiliated Institute be in the same country or cultural region.
Article 51. § 1. Aggregation is the linking of some Institute with a Faculty, and embraces only the first and second cycles, for the purpose of granting the corresponding academic degrees through the Faculty.
§ 2. Incorporation is the insertion of some Institute into a Faculty, which embraces either the second or third cycle or both, for the purpose of granting the corresponding academic degrees through the Faculty.
§ 3. Aggregation and incorporation cannot be granted unless the Institute is adequately equipped to pursue those specific academic degrees, in such a way that there is a well-founded hope that, through the connection with the Faculty, the desired ends will be achieved.
Article 52. § 1. Cooperation is to be fostered among the Ecclesiastical Faculties themselves by means of teacher exchanges, mutual communication of scientific work, and the promoting of common research for the benefit of the People of God.
§2. Cooperation with other Faculties, even non-Catholic ones, should be promoted, care always however being taken to preserve one’s own identity.
Faculty of Theology
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 69-76)
Article 53. The theological disciplines are to be taught in such a way that their organic connection is made clear and that light be shed upon the various aspects or dimensions that pertain intrinsically to the nature of sacred doctrine. The chief ones are the biblical, patristic, historical, liturgical, and pastoral dimensions. The students are to be led to a deep grasp of the material, at the same time as they are led to form a personal synthesis, to acquire a mastery of the method of scientific research, and thus to become able to explain sacred doctrine appropriately.
Article 54. In presenting doctrine, those norms are to be followed which are in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, as well as those found in more recent documents of the Holy See insofar as these pertain to academic studies.
Article 55. The obligatory disciplines are:
1. In the first cycle:
a) - The philosophical disciplines needed for theology, which are above all systematic philosophy and the history of philosophy (ancient, medieval, modern, contemporary). Besides a general introduction, the systematic teaching must include the main areas of philosophy: 1) metaphysics (understood as philosophy of being and natural theology), 2) philosophy of nature, 3) philosophy of man, 4) moral and political philosophy, 5) logic and philosophy of knowledge.
- Excluding the human sciences, the strictly philosophical disciplines (q.v. Norms of Appl., art. 66, 1, a) must constitute at least 60% of the number of credits in the first two years. Each year must include a number of credits suited to one year of full-time university studies.
- It is highly preferable that the philosophy courses be concentrated in the first two years of philosophical-theological formation. Within this two-year period, these philosophical studies, which are undertaken in view of theology studies, will be integrated with the introductory theology courses.
b) the theological disciplines, namely:
c) the auxiliary disciplines, namely, some of the sciences of man and, besides Latin, the biblical languages insofar as they are required for the following cycles.
2. In the second cycle: the particular disciplines established in various sections, according to the diverse specializations offered, along with the practical exercises and seminars, including a special written dissertation.
3. In the third cycle: the Plan of Studies is to determine if particular disciplines are to be taught and which ones, together with practical exercises and seminars, as well as what ancient and modern languages the student must be able to understand to be able to write his or her thesis.
Article 56. In the five-year basic cycle, diligent care must be exercised that all the disciplines are taught with order, fullness, and with correct method, so that the student receives harmoniously and effectively a solid, organic, and complete basic instruction in theology, which will enable him either to go on to the next cycle’s higher studies or to exercise some office in the Church.
Article 57. The number of professors who teach philosophy must be at least three, who have the required degrees in philosophy (q.v. Norms of Appl., art. 19 and 67 § 2). They must be permanent, i.e. dedicated full-time to the teaching of philosophy and to research in that field.
Article 58. Besides examinations or equivalent tests for each discipline, at the end of the first and of the second cycle there is to be a comprehensive examination or equivalent test, so that the student proves that he or she has fully achieved the scientific formation intended by the respective cycle.
Article 59. It belongs to the Faculty to determine under what conditions students who have completed the curriculum of studies in philosophy and theology in a major seminary or in some other approved institute of higher learning may be admitted into the second cycle, taking careful account of their previous studies and, where necessary, prescribing special courses and examinations.
Faculty of Canon Law
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 77-80)
Article 60. In a Faculty of Canon Law, whether Latin or Oriental, there must be a careful setting forth both of the history and texts of ecclesiastical laws and of their disposition and connection, as well as their theological foundations.
Article 61. The following disciplines are obligatory:
1. In the first cycle
a) elements of philosophy: philosophical anthropology, metaphysics, ethics;
b) elements of theology: an introduction to Sacred Scripture; fundamental theology; the transmission and credibility of divine revelation; Trinitarian theology; Christology; divine grace; in a special way, ecclesiology; general and special sacramental theology; fundamental and special moral theology;
c) fundamental canonical structures (institutiones generales) of canon law;
2. In the second cycle
a) The books of the Code of Canon Law or the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, in all their parts, and the other norms in force;
b) Related disciplines: the theology of canon law; the philosophy of law; fundamental concepts of Roman law; elements of civil law; the history of the fundamental canonical structures of canon law; the history of the sources of canon law; the relationship between the Church and civil society; canonical administrative and judicial praxis;
c) an introduction to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches for students at a Latin Faculty of Canon Law; and introduction to the Code of Canon Law for students at an Oriental Faculty of Canon Law;
e) the optional courses, exercises and seminars as required by each faculty.
3. In the third cycle
a) canonical Latin
b) optional courses or exercises as required by each faculty.
Article 62. § 1. Students who successfully completed the philosophical-theological curriculum in a major seminary or in a theological faculty can be admitted immediately into the second cycle, unless the Dean deems it necessary or opportune, prior to their admittance, to require that they take a preliminary course in Latin or in the fundamental concepts of canon law.
Students who prove they have studied some of the subjects of the first cycle at an appropriate faculty or university-level institute may be dispensed from them.
§ 2. Students who hold an academic degree in civil law may be dispensed from some courses of the second cycle (such as Roman law and civil law), but may not be exempt from the three-year curriculum of studies for the Licentiate.
§ 3. After completing the second cycle, students must know Latin in such a way as to be able to understand thoroughly the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, as well as the other canonical documents. In the third cycle, as well as the knowledge of Latin necessary so that they can interpret correctly the sources of law, they must also know the other languages necessary for writing their dissertation.
Article 63. Besides examinations or equivalent tests for each discipline, at the end of the second cycle there is to be a comprehensive examination or equivalent test, whereby the student proves that he or she has fully received the scientific formation demanded by the second cycle.
Faculty of Philosophy
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 81-84)
Article 64. § 1. The research and teaching of philosophy in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy must be rooted in the “philosophical patrimony which is perennially valid”, which has developed throughout the history, with special attention being given to the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas. At the same time, the philosophy taught in an Ecclesiastical Faculty must be open to the contributions that more recent research has provided and continues to offer. One must emphasize the sapiential and metaphysical dimensions of philosophy.
§ 2. In the first cycle, philosophy is to be taught in such a way that the students in the basic cycle will come to a solid and coherent synthesis of doctrine, will learn to examine and judge the different systems of philosophy, and will also gradually become accustomed to personal philosophical reflection.
§ 3. If students of the first cycle of theological studies attend first-cycle courses in the Faculty of Philosophy, care must be taken to safeguard the specific nature of the content and purpose of each educational track. At the end of the philosophical formation, an academic degree in philosophy is not awarded (q.v. V.G., art. 74 a), but the students can ask for a certificate attesting to the courses they have attended and the credits they have obtained.
§ 4. The formation acquired in the first cycle can be completed in the successive cycle, where one begins to specialize via greater concentration on one area of philosophy and greater dedication of the student to philosophical reflection.
§ 5. It is appropriate to distinguish clearly between, on the one hand, studies in Ecclesiastical Faculties of Philosophy and, on the other hand, the philosophical courses that form an integral part of the studies in a Faculty of Theology or in a major seminary. In an institution which has, at the same time, both an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy and a Faculty of Theology, when the philosophy courses that are part of the five-year first-cycle of theology are taken at the Faculty of Philosophy, the authority who makes decisions regarding the programme is the Dean of the Faculty of Theology, who will make those decisions in conformity with the law in force, and while favouring close collaboration with the Faculty of Philosophy.
Article 65. In the teaching of philosophy, the relevant norms should be observed which are contained in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and in other recent documents of the Holy See concerning academic studies.
Article 66. The disciplines taught in various cycles are:
1. In the first cycle:
a) The obligatory basic subjects:
- A general introduction which aims, in particular, at showing the sapiential dimension of philosophy.
- The main philosophical disciplines: 1) metaphysics (understood as philosophy of being and natural theology), 2) philosophy of nature, 3) philosophy of man, 4) moral and political philosophy, 5) logic and philosophy of knowledge. Given the particular importance of metaphysics, an adequate number of credits must be accorded to this discipline.
- The history of philosophy: ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary. Careful examination of the various currents of thought are to be accompanied, when possible, by the reading of texts of the more important authors. Depending on requirements, a study of local philosophies is to be added.
The obligatory basic subjects must constitute at least 60% and must not exceed 70% of the number of credits of the first cycle.
b) The supplementary obligatory subjects:
- A study of the relationship between reason and Christian faith – that is, between philosophy and theology – from a systematic and historical point of view, paying attention to safeguarding both the autonomy of each field as well as their interconnection.
- Latin, so as to be able to understand the philosophical works (especially of Christian authors) written in that language. The student’s knowledge of Latin must be verified within the first two years.
- A modern language other than one’s mother-tongue, the knowledge of which must be verified before the end of the third year.
- An introduction to the methodology of study and of scientific research, which serves also as an introduction to the use of research tools and the practice of disputation.
c) The optional additional subjects:
- Principles of literature and the arts;
- Principles of some of the human sciences or some of the natural sciences (for example, psychology, sociology, history, biology or physics). In a particular way, care must be taken to establish a connection between the sciences and philosophy.
- Some other optional philosophical disciplines: for example, philosophy of science, philosophy of culture, philosophy of art, philosophy of technology, philosophy of language, philosophy of law or philosophy of religion.
2. In the second cycle:
- some special disciplines established in various sections, according to the diverse specializations offered, along with practical exercises and seminars, including special Licentiate dissertation.
- Beginners or advanced ancient Greek, or a second modern language other than that required for the first cycle or an advanced study of the same.
3° In the third cycle:
The Plan of Studies of the Faculty is to determine if special disciplines are to be taught and which ones, together with the practical exercises and seminars. It is necessary to acquire a knowledge of another language, or to acquire an advanced knowledge of one of the languages previously studied.
Article 67. § 1. The faculty must employ, on a full-time basis, at least seven duly qualified teachers, who thus can ensure the teaching of each of the obligatory basic subjects (q.v. Norms of Appl., art. 66, 1; art. 48, § 1, b).
In particular, the first cycle must have at least five permanent teachers allotted as follows: one in metaphysics, one in philosophy of nature, one in philosophy of man, one in moral philosophy and politics, one in logic and philosophy of knowledge.
For the other obligatory and optional subjects, the faculty can ask the help of other teachers.
§ 2. A teacher is qualified to teach in an Ecclesiastical institution if he or she has obtained the necessary academic degrees from an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy (q.v. Norms of Appl., art. 19).
§ 3. If the teacher possess neither a canonical Doctorate nor a canonical Licentiate, he or she may be appointed as permanent teacher only on the condition that his or her philosophical training is consistent with the content and method that is set forth in an Ecclesiastical Faculty. In evaluating candidates for teaching positions in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, the following must be considered: the necessary expertise in their assigned subject; an appropriate openness to the whole of knowledge; adherence, in their publications and teaching, to the truth taught by the faith; an adequately deepened knowledge of the harmonious relationship between faith and reason.
§ 4. It is necessary to ensure always that, in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, the majority of permanent teachers holds an ecclesiastical Doctorate in philosophy, or else an ecclesiastical Licentiate in a sacred science together with a Doctorate in philosophy obtained in a non-Ecclesiastical University.
Article 68. In general, so that a student can be admitted to the second cycle in philosophy, it is necessary that he or she has obtained the Ecclesiastical Baccalaureate in philosophy.
If a student has studied philosophy in a non-Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy at a Catholic University or in another Institute of Higher Studies, he or she can be admitted to the second cycle only after having demonstrated, by means of an appropriate examination, that his or her preparation is compatible with that which is set forth in an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy, and after having filled any gaps with respect to the years and curriculum foreseen for the first cycle as established in the present Norms of Application. The choice of courses must foster a synthesis of the subjects taught (q.v. V.G., art. 82, a). At the end of these supplementary studies, the student will be admitted to the second cycle without receiving the Ecclesiastical Baccalaureate in philosophy.
Article 69. § 1. Given the reform of the three-year first cycle of ecclesiastical philosophical studies, which concludes with the Baccalaureate in philosophy, the philosophical affiliation must be in conformity with what has been decreed for the first cycle regarding the number of years and the Plan of Studies (q.v. Norms of Appl., art. 66, 1). The number of permanent teachers in an affiliated Institute of philosophy must be at least five, with the required qualifications (q.v. Norms of Appl., art. 67).
§ 2. Given the reform of the two-year second cycle of ecclesiastical philosophical studies, which concludes with the Licentiate in philosophy, the philosophical aggregation must be in conformity with what has been decreed for the first and second cycles regarding the number of years and the Plan of Studies (q.v. V.G., art. 74 a and b; Norms of Appl., art. 66). The number of permanent teachers in an aggregated Institute of philosophy must be at least six, with the required qualifications (q.v. Norms of Appl., art. 67).
§ 3. Given the reform of the philosophy course as part of the first cycle of philosophy-theology studies, which concludes with the Baccalaureate in theology, the philosophy formation given in an affiliated Institute of theology must be in conformity with what has been decreed with regard to the Plan of Studies (q.v. Norms of Appl., art. 55, 1). The number of permanent teachers of philosophy must be at least two.
(Apostolic Constitution, articles 85-87)
Article 70. In order to achieve the goals set down in art. 85 of the Apostolic Constitution, the following faculties or institutions “ad instar Facultatis” have already been erected and authorized to grant degrees by the Holy See itself:
- Christian Archaeology
- Social Communications
- Christian and Classical Letters
- Sacred Music
- Ancient Near Eastern Studies
- Educational Sciences
- Religious Sciences
- Social Sciences
- Church History
- Arabic and Islamic Studies
- Biblical Studies
- Oriental Studies
- Studies on Marriage and the Family
His Holiness Pope FRANCIS has approved and ordered to be published each and every one of these Norms of Application, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for Catholic Education, December 27, 2017, the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist.
Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi
Angelo Vincenzo Zani
Titular Archbishop of Volturno
Relating to Article 7 of the Norms of Application
Norms for Drawing Up Statutes of a University or Faculty
Taking into account what is contained in the Apostolic Constitution and in the attached Norms of Application – and leaving to their own internal regulations what is of a particular or changeable nature – the Statutes of a University or Faculty must mainly deal with the following points:
1. The name, nature and purpose of the University or Faculty (with a brief history in the foreword).
2. The governance: the Chancellor; the personal and collegial academic authorities and what their exact functions are; how the personal authorities are chosen and how long their term of office is; how the collegial authorities i.e. the members of the Councils are chosen and how long their term is.
3. The teachers: what the minimum number of teachers is in each Faculty; into which ranks both the permanent and non-permanent are divided; what requisites they must have; how they are hired, appointed, promoted, and how they lose office (describing reasons needed and procedures); their duties and rights.
4. The students: requisites for enrolment; reasons and procedures for their suspension; their duties and rights.
5. Officials and administrative and service personnel: their duties and rights.
6. Academic degrees: what degrees are given in each Faculty and under what conditions; other qualifications granted.
7. Didactic and information facilities: the library, and how to provide for its maintenance and growth; other forms of didactic assistance and the scientific laboratories, if required.
8. Financial administration: the financial endowment of the University or Faculty and its administration; norms for paying the leadership, teachers, administrative personnel; student fees; economic assistance for the students.
9. Relationships with other Faculties and Institutes, etc.
Plan of Studies
1. What the Plan of Studies is for each Faculty.
2. What cycles there are.
3. What disciplines are taught: whether they are obligatory, and how often they are taught.
4. What seminars and practical exercises there are.
5. What examinations or equivalent tests there are.
6. Distance learning, where applicable.
Relating to Article 70 of the Norms of Application
Sectors of Ecclesiastical Studies according to their Current (2017) Academic Status in the Church
Note: These individual study Sectors, listed here alphabetically, are currently in existence. Under each of these headings is to be found a grouping of Specializations.
Existing Specializations are to be found in the data-base of Ecclesiastical Institutions of Higher Education, accessible via the web-site www.educatio.va.
Furthermore, the aforementioned data-base includes all Institutions of Higher Education erected or approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education as being part of the educational system of the Holy See.
- Christian Archaeology
- Social Communications
- Canon Law
- Christian and Classical Letters
- Sacred Music
- Ancient Near Eastern Studies
- Educational Sciences
- Religious Sciences
- Social Sciences
- Church History
- Arabic and Islamic Studies
- Biblical Studies
- Oriental Studies
- Studies on Marriage and the Family
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