CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION
(for Educational Institutions)
[EN - ES - FR - IT - PL]
Instruction on the Affiliation of Institutes of Higher Studies
The affiliation of institutes of higher studies is encouraged by His Holiness Pope Francis’ Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium, which lists the basic criteria for renewing and relaunching ecclesiastical studies for a missionary Church which goes forth. One of these criteria “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” (VG, Foreword, 4, d). This shows the demanding responsibility placed on the various disciplines foreseen by ecclesiastical studies, as well as on the institutions themselves.
Affiliations first appeared in 1936, established by the Sacra Congregatio de Seminariis et Studiorum Universitatibus. From the 1960s onwards, they spread throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. With his Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana (15 April 1979), Pope John Paul II aimed to encourage them, affirming that “it is highly desirable that theological study centres, whether diocesan or religious, be affiliated to a Faculty of Sacred Theology” (art. 62 § 2). Subsequently, the Congregation for Catholic Education published the Notio affiliationis theologicae, the Normae servandae ad affiliationem theologicam exsequendam and the Conventio ad affiliandum (1 August 1985), as well as the Notio affiliationis philosophicae, the Normae servandae ad affiliationem philosophicam exsequendam and the Conventio ad affiliandum (2 July 2014), which, however, limited affiliations to major seminaries and Religious houses of study.
With the developments within higher education worldwide, and to promote the proper recognition of qualifications and degrees obtained by clerics, laity and religious at ecclesiastical academic institutions, there was a need to update the regulations governing affiliations. After the promulgation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium (8 December 2017) and the attached Norms of Application (27 December 2017), the Congregation for Catholic Education, drawing on its experience and the invaluable observations that it has received, “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” (VG, Foreword, 1), hereby issues this Instruction on affiliations of institutes of higher studies to ecclesiastical Faculties, to provide both for the on-going progress of the said institutes and their suitable distribution in the various parts of the world.
I. Canonical Basis for an Institute’s Affiliation
Art. 1. The affiliation of an institute is governed by article 63 of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium and by articles 50, 69 §§ 1 and 3 of the Norms of Application attached to the same Constitution, as well as on what is defined and described in this Instruction, taking into account the law as hitherto applied in ecclesiastical Faculties (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 1 § 1).
II. Notion and Specific Nature of an Affiliation
Art. 2. The affiliation of an institute, which is different from an aggregation or incorporation (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 50-51), is its linking to an ecclesiastical Faculty with the aim of attaining, via the Faculty, the corresponding academic degree of the first cycle, i.e., the baccalaureate (q.v. VG, art. 63 § 1).
Art. 3. The affiliated institute, unless specified differently in its Statutes, is open to all, ecclesiastics or laity, who may be suitably enrolled in the first cycle of an ecclesiastical Faculty as regards the studies they have already completed and their moral conduct, and can legally give testimony to the same (q.v. VG, art. 31; Norms of Application, art. 26).
Art. 4. It the affiliating Faculty’s task and duty to assist and diligently oversee the affiliated institute, so that the latter’s academic life is fully and regularly conducted. For that to happen more easily, the affiliation is usually to be established within the same region (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 50).
Art. 5. The program of studies at the affiliated institute must be harmonized with the norms of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium and the attached Norms of Application, for that which regards the affiliating Faculty’s first cycle. The condition and nature of the affiliated institute’s studies are properly academic and scientific, just as those of the affiliating Faculty’s first cycle.
III. Academic Conditions of the Affiliated Institute
Art. 6. The affiliation cannot be granted unless the institute possesses the necessary requirements for attaining the academic degree of the first cycle. In fact, only in this way can there be a well-grounded hope that, via the connection with the Faculty, the desired aim can really be achieved (q.v. VG, art. 63 § 1). In this regard, the following points are to be observed:
§ 1. One must accurately reflect whether the institute’s creation is necessary or at least truly useful, and whether it cannot be substituted for in other ways.
§ 2. The number and quality of the institute’s teachers must be such as to be able to satisfy the conditions of the basic-level first cycle.
§ 3. All teachers must have gained an appropriate doctorate (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 19) or at least the licentiate (q.v. VG, art. 50 § 1), and must be free from other, incompatible duties (q.v. VG, art. 29).
§ 4. There should be a suitable number of ordinary students.
§ 5. The institute must have proper academic facilities, including information facilities and technical audio-visual equipment. In the first place, it must have a library (with subscriptions to electronic databases) that fulfils the academic requirements of the first cycle.
Art. 7. The weekly hours of lessons, exercises and seminars, completed during each student’s personal study and work, must be sufficient to attain the number of formative credits suitable for a year of full-time university studies.
Art. 8. § 1. The means of governing the affiliated institute must be determined in the particular Statutes approved by the Faculty Council (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 14) and then by the Congregation for Catholic Education (q.v. VG, art. 7), making sure that they do not conflict with what is prescribed in the Statutes of the Faculty or University. The academic authorities of the Faculty, both personal and collegial (q.v. VG, art. 15), are ipso iure academic authorities of the affiliated institute, to which one must add the particular authorities who are, at a minimum, the Moderator (the Ordinary of the place, Hierarch or Major Superior), the Director and the institute’s Council Members. The duties and offices of all these authorities must be defined in the Statutes (q.v. VG, art. 11 § 3).
§ 2. The Director should be chosen from among the permanent teachers.
§ 3. It is the Director’s duty to transmit electronically to the Dean of the Faculty (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 17, 6°), whatever is needed for the annual updating of the Congregation for Catholic Education’s database.
Art. 9. If the affiliated institute is joined to a major seminary or college, the Statutes, while maintaining due cooperation in everything pertaining to the students’ good, must clearly and effectively provide that the academic direction and administration of the institute are correctly distinct from the governance and administration of the major seminary or college (q.v. VG, art. 21).
IV. Granting of the Affiliation and the Academic Degrees
Art. 10. § 1. The affiliation is granted by Decree of the Congregation for Catholic Education (q.v. VG, art. 63 § 1).
§ 2. The same Decree will have expressly to grant to the affiliated institute canonical public juridic personality, if it did not previously have it.
§ 3. It belongs to the Congregation for Catholic Education to grant by Decree juridic personality to an affiliated institute that forms part of a civil University.
Art. 11. The affiliation can be granted to those institutes that have shown themselves suitable for such over an appropriate length of time, and after favourable opinions have been obtained both from the Ordinary/Hierarch of the place and from the Bishops’ Conference/Oriental Hierarchical Structure.
Art. 12. The request must be presented to the Congregation for Catholic Education by the Chancellor of the affiliating Faculty (q.v. VG, art. 12), after the Faculty Council (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 14) – and that of the University, if the Faculty is part of a University – has diligently examined and approved all the requirements.
Art. 13. The academic degree of the first cycle is conferred by the affiliating Faculty, whose name (and that of the University, if the Faculty is part of a University) must appear on the diploma (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 38).
Art. 14. The degree awarded is the same as that awarded in the affiliating Faculty at the completion of the first cycle. The canonical name “baccalaureate” can be accompanied by another expression according to local, civil university practice, as long as: a) it really corresponds to the canonical baccalaureate, especially as regards the duration of the relative studies; b) there is no possibility of confusion either with similar, local civil degrees or with the expression used for the second-cycle canonical degree, i.e. the licentiate (q.v. VG, art. 46-47).
Art. 15. Any local expression for the baccalaureate, which must be identical for all Faculties of a given nation or cultural region (q.v. VG, art. 47), needs the approval of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Art. 16. The issuing of authentic documents for the granting of the academic degrees, according to established procedures, belongs to the affiliating Faculty, or to the University if the Faculty is part of a University (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 38-39). The affiliated institute will take care of issuing any further documents (such as the Transcript of Records, which attests to the examinations sat by the student).
V. Procedure for Obtaining or Renewing an Affiliation
A) Prior Examination and Approval of the Institute to be Affiliated
Art. 17. The proposal to create an affiliated institute must be drawn up by the Ordinary, Hierarch or Major Superior of the place where the institute is located, who must address his request to an ecclesiastical Faculty which can assume the academic responsibility for the institute in question.
Art. 18. The affiliating Faculty, via its delegate or commission for the affiliation (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 14), must first verify whether the institute satisfies the prescribed academic conditions (q.v. VG, art. 63 § 1), including by means of on-site visits.
Art. 19. If the results are favourable, the Chancellor (q.v. VG, art. 12) of the Faculty (or of the University, if the Faculty is part of a University), having ascertained that the requirements foreseen by this Instruction are fulfilled, forwards to the Congregation for Catholic Education, along with his own opinion:
§ 1. a dossier on the academic conditions found in the institute to be affiliated, and containing the Faculty’s assessment of the same;
§ 2. the Statutes of the institute to be affiliated, drawn up in a similar way to those of the Faculty (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, Appendix I, art. 7);
§ 3. the Plan of Studies of the institute’s first cycle, distributed over the different years, with the total number of ECTS or comparable formative credits for each discipline (q.v. VG, art. 41-42; Norms of Application, art. 30);
§ 4. the curriculum vitae, studiorum et operum of each of the institute’s teachers, both permanent and non-permanent;
§ 5. the number of students foreseen, distributed according to their year of formation;
§ 6. any local expression that will accompany the canonical term “baccalaureate” (q.v. VG, art. 46-47) and its basis in civil law or ecclesiastical law.
B) Duties of the Congregation for Catholic Education
Art. 20. The affiliation is normally granted ad quinquennium experimenti gratia. After that period has elapsed, if the results are favourable, it is renewed ad alterum quinquennium. Should that further period conclude favourably, the affiliation is granted ad aliud quinquennium. Successive renewals will be ad aliud quinquennium. If the academic conditions of the institute, particularly as regards the number of students and teachers as well as its academic quality, fail to satisfy the necessary requirements, the affiliation can be suspended or revoked by the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Art. 21. § 1. For the Congregation for Catholic Education to be able to grant the affiliation, the competent authorities of the Faculty must offer their opinion about each individual candidate to be appointed teacher.
§ 2. Those who teach disciplines concerning faith and morals must receive, after having made their Profession of Faith (q.v. can. 833, n. 7 C.I.C.), the canonical mission from the Chancellor (or his delegate), which he can grant or revoke according to the norms of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium.
Art. 22. For the affiliation to be renewed, the request must come from the Chancellor (q.v. VG, art. 12) of the affiliating Faculty (or University), accompanied by a thorough dossier on the results hitherto achieved from the affiliation.
Faculty of Theology
Art. 23. According to article 63 § 1 of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium, an institute affiliated to a Faculty of Theology must fulfil the academic conditions regarding studies that are specified in articles 69-76 of the said Constitution, as well as in articles 53-59 of the attached Norms of Application, with reference to the first cycle.
Art. 24. The studies in an affiliated institute last for five years or ten semesters (300 ECTS or comparable formative credits) and include two years of philosophy (120 ECTS or comparable formative credits) and three years of basic-level theology (180 ECTS or comparable formative credits). If the institute offers only the three years of basic-level theology, the two years of philosophy must be completed previously (q.v. VG, art. 74, a), always distinguishing clearly between this two-year period of philosophy and studies completed at ecclesiastical Faculties of Philosophy (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 64 § 5).
Art. 25. The institute must have at least seven permanent teachers of the theological disciplines. Normally, they are arranged thus: for Sacred Scripture, for fundamental and dogmatic theology (two teachers), for moral and spiritual theology, for liturgy, for canon law, for patristics and Church history.
Art. 26. Where the institute has a five-year first cycle in philosophy and theology, concluding with the baccalaureate in theology, there must be at least two permanent teachers of philosophy (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, 69 § 3).
Art. 27. Besides the examinations or equivalent tests for each discipline, at the end of the first cycle there is to be a comprehensive examination (or equivalent test), whereby the student proves that he or she has fully achieved the scientific formation intended by the respective cycle (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 58).
Art. 28. It is highly recommended that theological Study Centres, whether diocesan/eparchal or Religious, be affiliated to a Faculty of Theology (q.v. VG, art. 63 § 2).
Art. 29. § 1. The affiliated institute 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 (q.v. VG, art. 76 § 1).
§ 2. To that end, there may also be special disciplines, suitable for seminarians (q.v. Congregation for the Clergy, Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, 8 December 2016, nn. 176-184). Moreover, the said affiliated institute can suitably establish – in dialogue and in mutual cooperation with the formators of the major seminary – the Ministerial Year which is required, after the completion of the five-year basic-level course of studies, for the priesthood. This can conclude with the granting of a special diploma (q.v. VG, art. 76 § 2).
Faculty of Canon Law
Art. 30. An institute of higher studies cannot be affiliated to a Faculty of Canon Law.
Faculty of Philosophy
Art. 31. According to article 63 § 1 of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium, an institute affiliated to a Faculty of Philosophy must fulfil the academic conditions regarding studies that are specified in articles 81-84 of the said Constitution, as well as in articles 64-69 of the attached Norms of Application, with reference to the first cycle.
Art. 32. The first-cycle studies of the affiliated institute last for three years (180 ECTS or comparable formative credits) or six semesters (q.v. VG, art. 82, a).
Art. 33. The institute must have at least five permanent teachers (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 69 § 2), arranged thus: one for metaphysics, one for philosophy of nature, one for philosophical anthropology, one for moral and political philosophy, one for logic and philosophy of knowledge (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 67 § 1).
Art. 34. According to article 63 § 1 of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium, an institute affiliated to any Faculty other than of theology or philosophy must fulfil the academic conditions regarding studies that are specified in articles 85-87 of the said Constitution, as well as in article 70 of the attached Norms of Application.
Art. 35. The first-cycle studies of the affiliated institute last for three years or six semesters (180 ECTS or comparable formative credits).
Art. 36. The affiliated institute must have at least five permanent teachers of the principal disciplines (q.v. VG, Norms of Application, art. 31).
Art. 37. This Instruction goes into force on the first day of the academic year 2021-2022 or on the first day of the academic year 2022, according to the academic calendar used in each region.
Art. 38. § 1. By 8 September 2022, every institute that is already affiliated must present to the Congregation for Catholic Education, via the affiliating Faculty, its Statutes and Plan of Studies, revised in accordance with this Instruction.
§ 2. Any changes to the Statutes or Plan of Studies require the approval of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Art. 39. Only the Congregation for Catholic Education can dispense from the observance of any article of this Instruction.
Art. 40. This Instruction replaces all documents (Notio affiliationis theologicae, Normae servandae ad affiliationem theologicam exsequendam, Conventio ad affiliandum, Notio affiliationis philosophicae, Normae servandae ad affiliationem philosophicam exsequendam, Conventio ad affiliandum) hitherto in force.
Art. 41. Norms and customs presently in force that are contrary to this Instruction are abrogated.
On 1 December 2020, the Holy Father approved this document of the Congregation for Catholic Education and authorized its publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for Catholic Education, 8 December 2020, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Giuseppe Card. VERSALDI
Angelo Vincenzo ZANI
Titular Archbishop of Volturno