Aussie tertiary move has implications for NZ courses

Good Shepherd College

A change in the civil accreditation of an Australian Catholic tertiary institute has implications for Te Kupenga Catholic Theological College in this country. 

According to an October 1 newsletter, Te Kupenga CTC currently teaches the Bachelor of Theology degree as an offshore campus of the Catholic Institute of Sydney (CIS). 

But CIS has announced that it is moving its civil accreditation from the Sydney College of Divinity to the University of Notre Dame, Australia (UNDA). 

Changes will begin to take effect from the beginning of 2022. It is understood the process will take three years and that CIS will continue to be a member of SCD for three years. 

In a September 20 letter to students, CIS president Professor Isabell Naumann, ISSM, wrote that “collaboration between Catholic higher educational institutions is strongly encouraged by the [Vatican] Congregation for Catholic Education, and this new initiative satisfies that directive”. 

The Te Kupenga newsletter stated that the change directly affects 33 students studying for Sydney College of Divinity Bachelor of Theology degrees at Te Kupenga CTC.  

“It also indirectly affects the 20 students studying for our Graduate Diploma in Theology, as the papers that award is composed of are the same papers as the BTH.”  

The newsletter stated that “The Catholic Theological College wants to maintain its link with CIS and (eventually) to teach the University of Notre Dame (UNDA) award”. 

At present, Te Kupenga CTC has the SCD BTh degree registered on the NZ National Qualifications Framework. NZ Catholic understands that Te Kupenga CTC’s government funding is related to its teaching towards a registered qualification. 

“[W]e have commenced the process of getting the new UNDA award registered on the framework,” the newsletter stated. 

In her letter to students, Sr Naumann said that “CIS was one of the founding members of the SCD and, in the many years of our collaboration, we have enjoyed a congenial relationship based on mutual respect and benefit”.  

“We are confident that in future we will continue to cooperate with the SCD through an enhanced ecumenical relationship and in research collaboration.” 

Options for students about the courses from SCD and from UNDA were spelled out in the letter. 

N Last month, Pope Francis appointed Professor Naumann, a Schoenstatt Sister, to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission.  She was one of 12 new members appointed to the commission, which was established in 1969 to study important doctrinal issues as an aid to the pope and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

The Catholic Weekly (Sydney) reported that Dr Naumann’s appointment is a prestigious one, with the commission counting some of the Church’s most pre-eminent theologians among its alumni. She has served as the first female president of the Catholic Institute of Sydney since her appointment to the role in 2018. As the country’s only ecclesiastical faculty, it can confer pontifical degrees of the Baccalaureate, Licentiate, and Doctorate of Sacred Theology. 

Commission members are appointed by the Pope for five-year terms, during which a particular theological question is studied and the results published, The Catholic Weekly report stated.
The last term ended in 2019, but the new commission’s start was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 12 new appointments bring the number of women currently serving the commission to five. 


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