VATICAN CITY, NOV. 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican signed an agreement of a cultural nature in Erfurt, Germany, with the regional state of Thuringia incorporating the local Catholic school of theology in the state university.
Founded in 1952, the school of theology of Erfurt was unique in then Communist East Germany. Today it continues to be the sole school of theology in eastern Germany.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the Vatican by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, apostolic nuncio in Germany, and by Bernhard Vogel, minister-president, on behalf of Thuringia.
A Vatican statement explained that, with the agreement, both sides “recognize on one hand the contribution that the Philosophical and Theological Center of Erfurt has offered over decades — in the ecclesiastical and cultural realm — in eastern Germany.”
Archbishop Lajolo noted the role played by this center during the Communist dictatorship, “an island in which scientific research and teaching were able to develop freely.”
The two signatories manifested “their common desire to favor and promote the development of Catholic theology in relation to other sciences,” the Vatican statement added.
From now on, the school will be a part of the University of Erfurt, but the Church will have the right to pass judgment on the appointment of professors, who henceforth will be paid by the state and not by the Church.
The university’s professors now teach 218 theology students from Germany and neighboring countries.
The school will serve to promote Catholic theology in general, and to form candidates for the priesthood and other ecclesial ministries, as well as religion teachers in schools.