The Faculty of Theology in the University of Fribourg

The Faculty of Theology in the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, is part of a State University which gives State diplomas and degrees. But it is also recognized by the Vatican as a Faculty of Catholic Theology. In this sense the Master of the Order of Preachers is the Grand Chancellor of the Faculty. This is a first connection between the Dominican Order and the Faculty.

A second connection is the fact that some Dominicans are full-time Professors, sharing and even leading the academic life of the Faculty. According to the Agreement between the Order, the University, and the Swiss Bishops (1985), the Dominicans are supposed to have at least a third of the professorial chairs: 7 out of 21 chairs. Today this is still the case: Dominicans hold two chairs in Dogmatic Theology and one in Moral Theology (according to the Thomistic tradition), three in Holy Scripture (two in Old Testament, one in French and one in German, and one in New Testament, in French), and one in Church History. Another Dominican gives lectures in Philosophy, but without a full-time position. The Faculty welcomes some young Dominicans for Bachelor, Master, and Licentiate studies, and some friars are doctoral students. Two of the Dominican doctoral students are also Assistants for two of the Professors.

The presence of the Order in the Faculty of Fribourg is therefore quite important, not only in terms of quantity, but also, and above all, in terms of witness for the other students. In the Order worldwide there are today many Provincials, Regents of Studies, and Professors, who were students at the Faculty of Fribourg. And so the name of Fribourg is very well-known in many regions of the Order.

However, in August 2020 one of the Dominican professors will retire and the Dominicans will then have fewer than the agreed number of professors in the Faculty. We must therefore answer the following important question: does the Order want to do anything in order to keep its positions in Fribourg or not? The next deadline to keep in mind is 2023, the year in which the Agreement could be modified or even definitively rejected.

fr. Luc Devillers OP
Dean of the Faculty (01.08.2016-31.07.2019)
Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Theology (until 31.07.2020)