On 8 December 2017, Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium and related Ordinationes were presented by the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The document replaces the constitution Sapientia christiana promulgated by John Paul II in 1979.

In the proem, Pope Francis lays down four cardinal principles.

1) contemplation and spiritual, intellectual and existential introduction into the heart of the kerygma;

2) all-embracing dialogue;

3) inter- and trans-disciplinarity exercised with wisdom and creativity in the light of Revelation;

4) ‘networking’ between the different institutions that cultivate and promote ecclesiastical studies in every part of the world.


The second part contains the common norms, the special norms (for the faculties of theology, law and philosophy) and the final norms. A second annexed document, signed by the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Giuseppe Versaldi, contains the application norms of the constitution.

A number of continental meetings have been scheduled for the next two years to present the Apostolic Constitution so that, valuing the particular Churches, regional plans for the reorganisation and revitalisation of the Ecclesiastical Faculties can be studied, in relation to the different needs of the Churches themselves and in synergy with the other Catholic institutions of higher studies in the area. So far, three have been established: in Rome for Europe, North America and the Middle East; in Bogota with CELAM for Latin America; in Nairobi for Africa; in Bangkok for Asia.

As for statistical numbers, it must be said that in the world there are 289 Ecclesiastical Faculties and 503 connected Institutions (i.e. affiliated, aggregated and incorporated), for a total of 792 Institutes. We have 28 Athenaeums and Universities, in which there are several Faculties. Among the Faculties 160 are of Theology; 49 of Philosophy; 32 of Canon Law; 40 of other disciplines.

All these institutions are distributed throughout the world as follows: in Africa: 15 Faculties and 76 connected Institutions; in Asia: 25 Faculties and 56 connected Institutions; in North America: 19 Faculties and 25 connected Institutions; in South America: 22 Faculties and 56 connected Institutions; in Oceania 1 Faculty and 3 connected Institutions; in Europe: 207 Faculties and 287 connected Institutions (these figures are so high because of a strong concentration of Faculties in Rome and a strong distribution of Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences especially in Italy, Spain and other countries). The total number of students is 64,500. The total number of teachers is 12,000.

New Apostolic Constitution for Ecclesiastical Faculties


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