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Crisis resolved at Catholic faculty in Prague

A long-term crisis at the Catholic theological faculty of Charles University in Prague ended in late December. The faculty had long been criticised by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, Archbishop of Prague, and by university bodies, as well as many Catholic intellectuals, for its extreme conservative lectures. It had admitted only future priests into its full-time study programmes. The educational courses had not been modernised since 1990 and no foreign exchange programmes for students existed. 'Too progressive' lecturers were fired during the Nineties and faculty authorities repeatedly warned students about 'dangerous Western theology'.

According to Josef Pazderka in Prague, the crisis was finally brought to a head and resolved in December. The Czech Education Ministry accreditation commission, which monitors the quality of university education, had officially recommended to the Czech Education Minister, Eduard Zeman, that accreditation of two study programmes of the Catholic theological faculty should be withdrawn and a third halted. This meant that the faculty would not be able to hold state examinations, grant university diplomas and admit new students. Moreover, current students might have to change to a different school.

After a week Zeman approved the commission's decision and asked Ivan Wilhelm, the vice-chancellor of Charles University, to take over as head of the faculty. The university spokesman Vaclav Hajek told The Tablet that Wilhelm intends to change the staff at the faculty, alter entrance procedures and modify the contents of the lectures for the summer term.

The Czech Catholic Church has been deeply dissatisfied with the work of the faculty. But even Cardinal Vlk, the faculty's chancellor, has not managed to push through changes required by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education. 'This could have been expected. It is sad that the ultra-conservative wing which rules the faculty has brought it to such failure', the spokesman for the Czech Bishops' Conference, Daniel Herman, was quoted as saying.

Last year the faculty had 561 students.

The Tablet