Dr. Ulrich Lehner of University of Notre Dame (Credit: Catholic News Agency).
A German theology professor says universities in his country avoid appointing loyal Catholics as teaching staff, leading to an academic mediocrity in German theology.
Dr. Ulrich Lehner, Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame in an interview with Catholic News Agency’s Dutch service, said German theology was also losing the global impact it had in the past.
Except in some cases, there is a “qualitative regression of German theology,” said Lehner, who holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Regensburg.
However, “academic mediocrity is always hiring mediocrity,” said the professor who also holds a doctorate in history from the Central European University.
The professor said he followed several appointments in Germany and noticed a “handful of professors” backing up their former students for the job regardless of the weaknesses of those candidates.
Notably, “those who are loyal to the Church never get a chance because they are sorted out beforehand,” he said.
Lehner said a married theologian and mother of three children was denied an academic post because she went to daily Mass. “She took her faith too seriously, too seriously for a professor,” Lehner said.
Several candidates are rejected without considering their academic criteria often with the knowledge and cover of the university administration, Lehner observed.
“German theology is no longer what it was 25 years ago. Unlike then, it no longer has a global impact,” he said.
He said fewer German theological works are now translated into English, French, and Spanish now.
The scientific output also remains low. According to the German statistical office data, only eight people received their second doctorate to be eligible for a university professorship in Catholic theology in 2019.