The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education has asked pontifical universities and faculties to plan to re-open in autumn and teach with students present.
The universities in Rome are making those preparations, but many of them also are devising backup plans in case the Covid-19 pandemic continues, and many students are prevented from travelling to Rome.
The pontifical universities and other ‘ecclesial faculties’ – those granting Vatican-recognised degrees in theology and canon law – are to be ‘places of dialogue and of communion’, said a note dated 6th May and posted on the website of the Congregation for Catholic Education. ‘Thus, teaching and research must develop in an environment where students and teachers carry out their activities in contact with others, in communion and sharing.
‘Distance learning is no alternative to this methodology and can be used only in part, and for particular situations, and always with the previous authorisation of the Congregation for Catholic Education,’ said the note, signed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect.
Italy ordered the shutdown of all schools and universities on 5th March. That included the pontifical universities in Rome, which had just begun spring semester courses. The universities moved as quickly as possible to online lessons; many students from the United States, Italy and other parts of Europe headed home and followed their courses online.
Picture: A member of a religious congregation walks down the hall as lay students wait between classes at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome in this 20th September 2013, file photo. The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education has asked pontifical universities to reopen in autumn with students present but many are making back-up plans. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).