The public health emergency arising from the COVID-19 epidemic compels this Dicastery to impart some normative dispositions regarding the application of Church law in the matter of Ecclesiastical higher education, with reference to the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium. In this way, our Congregation aims to answer the appeals that have arrived from various Ecclesiastical Universities or Faculties, to define the general conditions for continuing and, ultimately, concluding the current academic year.
In particular, where the normal delivery of lectures, as well as examinations with both teachers and students present, prove to be impossible, it seems appropriate to finish the current academic year with education via videoconference and, where necessary, by distance learning. These methods have already perforce been adopted due to the pandemic, to safeguard the health of the entire academic community.
In this emergency situation, it seems reasonable that decisions on the means of distance learning should be taken locally, taking into consideration the specific circumstances, including the regulations enacted by the civil authorities. At the same time, we believe it appropriate to guarantee legal certainty for all students and teachers, inasmuch as some measures that have been adopted in the interim by some Ecclesiastical Universities’ and Faculties’ academic authorities (Chancellors, as well as personal and collegial authorities) could perhaps conflict with the Statutes and/or Plan of Studies approved by this Dicastery. In addition to these juridical questions, let us not forget that the challenges posed by this crisis necessitate an adequate pastoral accompaniment. Therefore, we wish to invite you to maintain and strengthen, according to circumstances, the pastoral care offered in our Universities and Faculties.
To ensure the due application of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium (cf. art. 10), the Congregation for Catholic Education now enacts the following transitory Norms of Application, and then offers guidelines for the next academic year.
Transitional Norms for the Application of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium in the public health emergency arising from the COVID-19 epidemic