KIEV, Ukraine, NOV. 28, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Latin and Byzantine Catholics gathered here for a theological symposium this month to mark the 10th anniversary of the Dominican Institute of Religious Sciences of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Archbishop Mykola Eterovic, papal nuncio to Ukraine, attended the gathering of teachers, students, clergy and laity. Cardinal Marian Jaworski, president of the nation’s Latin-rite bishops’ conference, was also present.
The Dominican order and the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome, with which the institute is affiliated, sent representatives.
While the Dominican order founded the institute in 1992, the initiative is credited to a group of lay people. The initial group of 100 students has been augmented by 50 to 60 per year. Since economic conditions in Ukraine preclude charging tuition, courses are offered free of charge, and only donations from abroad have kept the institute afloat.
The institute’s small building near the Dominican priory in Kiev has no space for lecture halls or a library, and many books remain packed in boxes, for lack of a place to display them.
And, despite progress on this front, theology as an academic discipline has not been recognized by the government, so the institute cannot award its own degrees. Ukrainian official Victor Bondarenko, head of the government Committee on Religion, spoke at the conference and said he has hopes that official recognition of theological study will follow soon.
In May 2000, the institute acquired official patronage from the theological faculty of the Angelicum, and can grant master’s degrees in the name of the Angelicum.