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Belgium's Catholic University of Leuven may drop 'Catholic' from its name

October 18, 2010

The Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium may drop its institutional affiliation with the Church.

The Fleming-language University of Leuven—which until 1968 was joined with the French-speaking University of Louvain—is inaugurating a series of debates on the question of removing “Catholic” from its name. While saying that the decision will not be made hastily, Rector Mark Waer said that “the Catholic message is not appropriate for the university.”

Waer said that students—especially those from outside Belgium—should be reassured that the bishops who sit on the board of the University of Leuven do not control academic policies. The university has a full range of academic specialties, but also includes faculties in canon law and theology; it is not clear how these departments would be affected by dropping the Catholic affiliation.

Although the Catholic Church in Belgium has been under fire because of the sex-abuse crisis, officials at the University of Leuven said that the scandal was not a factor in their discussions. More pointed questions, they indicated, have been asked about the Church’s relationship toward science. The university hopes to play a leading role in biomedical research, and some faculty members were dismayed by the Vatican’s critical reaction when Robert Edwards, the pioneer of in vitro fertilization, was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize for


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  • Posted by: Obregon - Oct. 18, 2010 11:32 PM ET USA

    Amazing, just amazing! Well, I truly believe many "Catholic" universities should do the same in the United States since they are "Catholic" only in name. Many so-called "Catholic" universities have embraced secularism "whole" a long time ago. In Belgium some people believe “the Catholic message is not appropriate for the university.” Of course the Catholic message is not appropriate, it's counter-cultural and that is simply not politically correct today.