Sunday, September 25, 2016

First Catholic University in Vietnam Opens

First Catholic University in Vietnam OpensThe Catholic bishops of Vietnam have opened the country's first Catholic university. 

The university is the first of its kind since the country was subjected to communist rule in 1975.
 
The opening September 14 in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) comes after years of dialogue between the Vietnamese bishops, the Vatican and the Vietnam government. 

In 2011, the bishops issued a pastoral letter asking the government to "open the door to religious people of good will who wish to get involved in school education." 

Then in 2015 the archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Paul Bui Van Doc, said, "The relationship between the Vatican and the Vietnam government is becoming better and better, so we asked and they accepted."

Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao said, "It is an important step for the Vietnamese Church that takes place during the Jubilee year."

He continued, "It is a work of mercy that, thank God, begins in the Holy Year. Our approach is that of compassion, accomplished through the service of education."

The university will offer bachelor, licentiate and doctorate degrees in theology, and the courses will include sacramental, dogmatic and moral theology as well as liturgy and biblical studies, spirituality, missiology, and canon law, along with philosophy, psychology and social sciences.

Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao, rector of the institute, said at the opening ceremony, "The institute aims to enhance theological knowledge and competence among all priests, religious and laypeople." 

He added, "Theological understanding is very necessary for Catholics to live a true life of faith in a fast-changing society."

Twenty-three students have enrolled, most of them diocesan or religious priests, but the university is hoping to see an increase in enrollment in future, as well as constructing its own building. 

For now the university is temporarily housed in the headquarters for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam.

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