Dogmatics professor Johanna Rahner is the new chairwoman of the Catholic Theological Faculty Association. She succeeds the church historian Joachim Schmiedl from Vallendar. The term of office is three years.
Theologian Johanna Rahner (57) is the second woman ever to head the Faculty of Catholic Theology at the University of Tubingen (KThF), following the late Ilona Riedel-Spangenberger, a canon lawyer from Mainz. The body is the association of the 18 faculties and 35 institutes of Catholic theology at state and private universities in Germany.
Rahner was elected as the new chair of the Catholic Theological Faculty Association at its plenary meeting in Stuttgart over the weekend.
Meeting addressed standards for universities
The meeting focused on the implementation of Pope Francis' 2017 Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium. The letter regulates worldwide norms for universities and faculties. Because the situation in the Federal Republic with scientific faculties at state universities is unique in this form, the German bishops are currently negotiating with the Vatican Congregation for Education about the practical consequences of the paper.
On the German side, the Education Commission of the Bishops' Conference, headed by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, is in charge of this process. It has formed a task force that includes KThF representation.
One example of unresolved ies is that until now, only the first appointment for a profer for life required the nihil obstat ("nothing stands in the way"), a kind of ecclesiastical declaration of no objection. According to Roman regulations, the approval would have to be obtained again each time a professor changes in the future. This is considered unnecessary after general catching up in Germany.
Decline of theology students
Another topic of discussion at the plenary session was recent developments at universities. Examples of this are the new Institute for Catholic Theology at Humboldt University (HU) and the transfer of responsibility for the Philosophical-Theological University of Sankt Augustin from the Steyler Missionaries to the Archdiocese of Cologne.
In an interview with the Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur (KNA), Rahner called it a problem that the number of theology students has continually declined in recent years. He said this does not only concern the future staff for the church. Global companies and institutions could also benefit from interreligious and intercultural competence of theologians. Rahner also wants to strengthen the role of women in theology. She sees one reason for the decline in student numbers in the image of the Catholic Church, which has suffered greatly as a result of the sexual abuse scandal.
Rahner studied at Freiburg, where she earned a Ph. She habilitated in Munster. After holding teaching positions, she was a professor in Bamberg and Kassel before moving to Tubingen in 2014. Since 2019, the co-editor of the renowned scientific-theological book series "Quaestiones disputatae".
By Michael Jacquemain