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Twin boost for Catholic universities

Vatican-government accord goes into action

Alessandro Speciale, Vatican City

December 18, 2012

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Degrees awarded by Taiwan's Catholic universities will now have greater legal status thanks to an agreement signed last year by the government and the Holy See, which came into effect yesterday.

According to a Vatican press statement, the agreement will also allow Catholic higher education institutions to “promote Christian values” in all its courses, not just in the theology faculty.

The “Agreement between the Congregation for Catholic Education of the Holy See and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China on Collaboration in the Field of Higher Education and on the Recognition of Studies, Qualifications, Diplomas and Degrees” was signed in Taipei on December 2, 2011.

It was signed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, and Wu Ching-ji, Taiwan's Education Minister.

The agreement was unanimously approved on November 20 by Taiwan's parliament.

The agreement recognizes the “unique character” of Catholic educational institutions and will thus ensure protection of their “Catholic identity” and the Holy See's “exclusive competence” over curricula and the hiring of teaching staff.

Teachers and administrative personnel will now have to sign a “personal commitment” to follow “behavior compatible with Catholic doctrine and morals.”

According to the Holy See statement, the agreement will also prove advantageous for mainland Chinese clerics, seminarians and nuns studying at Taipei's Fu Jen Catholic University.

Since the agreement is inscribed in a UNESCO regional framework accord on higher education, Fu Jen’s degrees will also be recognized by mainland China institutions.

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