The 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
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."
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.
the university is temporarily housed in the headquarters for the
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam.