Welcome to our professorship for Pastoral Theology:

Ulmer Hof

On the following pages you can find information about the staff of the professorship, the current courses as well as research and qualification projects which are located in our subject.

What is pastoral theology?

The field of pastoral theology is dedicated the theology of ministry in the service of the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation. (LG 1) Theology recognizes ‘the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age’ and makes it a mission of the Church to deal with these realities – a mission that is reflected in pastoral theology. (GS 1)

As the theology of ministry, pastoral theology always endeavors to serve the mediation of salvation through practical work. For this reason, research and teaching in this field take an applied approach to internal structures within the Church, personal realization, audience-appropriate mediation of faith, and social processes.

Pastoral theology is concerned with topics related to practical ministry that serve as both areas for intervention and opportunities for learning for the discipline of theology. Practical theology does not act alone but also consults systematic theology, drawing on research from this field and from the magisterium of the Catholic Church for guidance in practical areas. It goes beyond the bare essentials of systematic theology by attempting to define how the current self-realization of the Church should be shaped in light of its historical situation. Consequently, areas of practical theology, and pastoral theology in particular, are seen to represent the practical knowledge of the whole of the discipline of theology. (Rahner, K., Die Zukunft der Kirche hat schon begonnen. In: Arnold, F. X. and Klostermann, F., Handbuch der Pastoraltheologie. Band V. 1969. p. 745)

The Vaticanum secundum instructed the Church to use new approaches to bear witness to the kingdom of Christ in words, in works, and through the lives of believers in order to make the presence of Christ visible. (LG 6) This is achieved through the ecclesia universalis et localis and its believers in everyday life, by sending God’s people out to all of humankind (Mt 28:19), and by proclaiming God’s salvation in our world (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis), ‘for by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man.’ (GS 22) In its constitutions, decrees, and declarations, the Vaticanum secundum therefore offers numerous guidelines for Catholic theology and provides orientation for practical theology in particular.

Consequently, the goals of practical theology include promoting the post-conciliar implementation of the understanding of ‘pastoral’, supporting the Church’s implementation of pastoral work in today’s world, and recognizing the people of our times – including those who are not Christian – and their questions about life. In light of this, a close collaboration with the human and social sciences, and in particular with psychology, is clearly necessary, and this is put into practice in the teaching and research at the Chair of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Psychology.

The goal of our teaching is to make students aware of their mission in the Church and their responsibility for people in order to prepare them for the realities of life and for practical ministry. Pastoral ministry is a work that results from the salvific mission. It is not simply a task to be executed, but is realized individually in freedom. While pastoral work takes place within churches, it always includes components of social ethics. For this reason, we place great importance on providing our students with practical theological skills that they can implement in social discourse.

In accordance with Sapentia Christiana (Apostolic Constitution Sapentia Christiana of the Supreme Pontiff Pope John Paul II on Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties, April 15, 1979), pastoral theology is a required discipline for all programs in Catholic theology. Our specialization is in pastoral psychology. The Faculty of Theology at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt offers a Bachelor’s and Master’s program in Pastoral Theology with Pastoral Psychology consisting of eight contact hours per week. These are made up of an introductory lecture on pastoral theology, an intermediate lecture on pastoral ministry in parishes, and an advanced lecture that focuses on pastoral psychology. We also offer an inter-university seminar in collaboration with pastoral theology departments at other institutions in Bavaria, as well as a tutorial on pastoral practice in collaboration with the KU’s Chair of Religious Education. In addition, students of full programs in theology and students of teaching degree programs in religious education can take elective modules in pastoral theology and pastoral psychology to deepen their knowledge of these areas.