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Catholic theology is dedicated to religious questions on the basis of certain normative texts and doctrine as part of a tradition that has developed over centuries. Religions play an important role in societal life in that, among other things, they shape social structures and influence the moral value system. They can be found in various areas, particularly upbringing, education, art and culture. This applies in particular to Christianity, which is anchored in numerous societies thanks to its global dissemination, the developmental history of which has been shaped over centuries.

In light of the current global trends, there is one main challenge for Catholic theology: it must question the function and the value of religious belief and religious practice in a society that is both pluralistic and to some extent secular.

What contribution can it make with its significant intellectual and ethical potential to the resolution of conflicts, and how can it collaborate with other communities without losing its special identity? And what role can Catholic theology take on in a secular world? How can it react to non-religious ways of life and the manner in which people justify their own ways of life?

The freedom of knowledge that is fundamentally guaranteed means these issues can be addressed in an independent, critical and creative manner. At the same time, Catholic theology intends to advance both interdisciplinary and inter-religious dialogue in this new institute with a focus on research, and in particular to strengthen the anthropological and global history-based perspectives within the institute. The idea is therefore to appoint people of the highest quality who are happy to collaborate from among the applicants. The new institute promises to become an intellectual focus point within the academic landscape.

Legal and higher education policy principles

In the higher education contract for the years 2018 to 2022 signed between the state of Berlin and Humboldt-Universität, there was an agreement that the seminar in Catholic theology, which is currently taught at the Freie Universität, would be moved to Humboldt-Universität and expanded to create a larger institute. It was noted that “this is linked to the common objective of both the state and the universities to establish and strengthen theologies together under one roof at Humboldt University within the term of the contract.” Humboldt-Universität therefore has the job of designing both the content and the structure of an Institute of Catholic Theology and founding said Institute taking into account the other theologies. This process shall be carried out in consultation with the Archdiocese of Berlin.

According to the applicable legal opinion, the state and religious communities must collaborate when setting up religious study programmes. The relevant normative principles of the Holy See and the German Bishops’ Conference must therefore be taken into account. This means firstly that religious study programmes (the introduction, amendment or cancellation of these and the study and examination regulations for these study programmes) in Catholic theology must be aligned with the requirements of the Catholic Church. This also applies to modules in Catholic theology in non-religious, interdisciplinary study programmes, but not to these study programmes overall. Secondly, the Catholic Church is entitled to be involved in the appointment of the professor positions. The Church’s involvement in the appointment is in accordance with Concordat regulations (known as the episcopal “Nihil obstat”).