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Vatican re-activates ecclesiastical faculties at Heythrop College

Archbishop Vincent Nichols (Mazur)

Heythrop College, in London, has reopened its ecclesiastical faculties of Philosophy and Theology after receiving copies of decrees of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The ecclesiastical faculties were first approved almost 50 years ago in November 1964 when the college was located near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire. On joining the University of London in 1970, the college focussed on the award of university degrees rather than on teaching for ecclesiastical programmes and the ecclesiastical faculties have since then been suspended.

Since the 1920s, Heythrop has been dedicated to St Robert Bellarmine, the sixteenth century Italian Jesuit, Cardinal and Doctor of the Church. The ecclesiastical faculties together form a specialist institute of the college known as the Bellarmine Institute. The decrees were signed on St Robert Bellarmine’s feast day on September 17.

In recent times the college offered Jesuit scholastics, seminarians and members of other religious congregations studying for the priesthood, the opportunity to prepare for an ecclesiastical bachelors degree in conjunction with the University of London Bachelor of Divinity programme. Success with this initiative led the college to investigate how it might be extended.

Now the faculties have been revived, students will be able to study for ecclesiastical bachelors , licentiate and for doctoral degrees in Theology and Philosophy in conjunction with degrees of the University of London. A ceremony to mark the re-opening of the faculties will take place in January 2014.

Archbishop Nichols, the patron of the Bellarmine Institute and Visitor of Heythrop College, University of London said: “I am delighted that Heythrop College will once again be offering the full range of ecclesiastical qualifications alongside its existing University of London degrees. This development will give new opportunities to those training for the priesthood and those already in ministry to study for ecclesiastical licentiate and doctoral degrees in philosophy and theology.”