Catholic faculty under fire

January 25, 2002

Catholic theology professors at Prague's Charles University must overhaul and modernise the way their faculty works to avoid closure, university rector Ivan Wilhelm has said.

The long-running dispute between the university's leadership and the Catholic Theological Faculty, which trains young men for the priesthood, came to a head this month when the Czech education ministry ratified a decision of the state accreditation council to withdraw official support unless key reforms were addressed.

The ministry, which gave Professor Wilhelm administrative powers over the faculty, wants to modernise the teaching of theology.

The faculty's dean, Jaroslav Polc, is resisting changing a curriculum that local bishops have called "ultra-conservative".

Professor Wilhelm and Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, chancellor of the faculty, urged the faculty to be more inclusive and open in its style of education. The rector told students that his reforms were designed to improve and modernise the faculty.

The ministry has given the rector four months to negotiate changes before withdrawing accreditation from a number of programmes at the faculty.

Czech-born Mikulas Lobkowicz, former vice-chancellor of the German Catholic University of Eichstaett, has been drafted in to help with the faculty's modernisation.

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