The establishment of the first Catholic university in Vietnam is officially in the works following the denial of educational freedom in the Communist country over the last sixty years, according to Vatican Insider.
Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc of Ho Chi Minh City reportedly says that the building could be completed in as little as one year.
The University will be an advanced institute of theological studies, based in Ho Chi Minh City.
The archbishop also reportedly said that the bishops of Vietnam are confident that “it will mark an important step forward for the common good of the country [and] a sign of great hope for a brighter future for Vietnam.”
Vatican Insider calls the University “a historical turning point” since the Communist party’s rise to power in 1954 and subsequent ban on Catholic educational institutions. In 1975, more than two thousand Catholic institutions were affected by the ban, ranging from kindergartens to higher education facilities. Recently, the Vietnamese government has granted the Catholic Church more freedoms, including control over seminary admittance.
The idea for the Catholic university was conceived in a 2011 pastoral letter titled “Let’s Build Together a Civilization of Love and Life.” The letter appealed to the government to “open the door to religious people of good will who wish to get involved in school education.” Since 2001, various Asian, Australian and European-run private universities have been established in Vietnam. The trend prompted the bishops’ appeal.
The bishops will meet at an assembly in Nha Trang from October 27 - 30 to discuss the next steps in establishing the University. Pope Francis will also meet with the president of the Vietnamese Episcopate to discuss future projects. The University is reportedly “being granted pontifical status” and is set to begin a new era of educational freedom in Vietnam.
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