The Lyon Catholic University Charter

UCLy lays out in this Charter the foundations of its identity and the focuses of its missions.

Lyon Catholic University (UCLy), founded in 1875, is an independent institution fulfilling the three missions shared by all Catholic universities around the worldresearcheducation, and service to society and the Church. We take on the responsibility for every part of these three interrelated areas.

Lyon Catholic University lays out in this Charter the foundations of its identity and the focuses of its missions, all aligned with the goal of educating ‘every person and the whole person’ (Father François Varillon S.J., 1905-1978).

With our partners (universities in France and other countries, schools, businesses and public and private organisations), we want to be an authentic ‘force of intelligence in service of humanity’, in service of people in all their facets: intellectual, physical, psychological, spiritual and religious, cultural, economic, social, etc., with the aim of enabling the harmonious development, within a comprehensive environmentalism, of relationships with others, with creation, with the self and with God.


Our university community brings together students, teaching and research staff and administrative and technical staff; we work together in line with anthropology and ethics inspired by the Gospel.

Our desire for openness drives us to welcome students and staff with diverse philosophical, religious and political allegiances and perspectives into this community. This is an element of our global dimension.

Based in the capital of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, a dynamic city at national, European and global levels, our university is firmly rooted in society, is aware of its social responsibility and benefits from partnerships with the socio-economic world.

Our university is an associate member of the Lyon Saint-Étienne COMUE (community of universities and institutions), forms part of the local, national and international university networks and collaborates actively with local authorities.


• The French government has recognised our contribution to the public service missions of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation by granting us the status of a public-interest private higher education institution (EESPIG).

• Our university is made up of six departments, each containing schools, faculties and/or institutes linked to our ‘research, initial and continuing education and professional training’ CONFLUENCE Sciences and Humanities Research Center (EA1598). It offers lifelong learning in close collaboration with the business and voluntary sectors as well as ecclesiastical organisations.

• We want to train graduates who are responsible and enterprising players within society, which is why we offer each student personal support with the choices they make in building a career plan.

• Our exacting standards are reflected in our efforts to fight against the fragmentation of knowledge (Fides et Ratio) by aiming for excellence in the teaching of fundamentals and practical skills and providing personalised support for each student, training in digital technology and the digital humanities, and opportunities for work experience. An extended learning programme alongside the courses takes into account the physical, mental and spiritual facets of each learner, and also offers opportunities to nourish their faith and to embrace solidarity, through the chaplaincy for example.

• In every course and for every discipline, we are constantly turning a critical eye on the goals and methods of teaching and research, with the quality of both the content and the structure in mind.

• The way our research is carried out is interdisciplinary (term used in Veritatis Gaudium, a key document for ecclesiastical universities and faculties), largely thanks to a cross-disciplinary laboratory shared by the six faculties, with research-active teaching staff members given the means to carry it out and promote it: research teams, publications, preparation for the accreditation required to lead research, links with the national, European and international networks and assistance with looking for contracts.

• As a university in tune with societal needs and which respects academic freedom of teaching and research, we build collaborations through teaching and research agreements with the Université de Lyon (which holds IDEX or Initiative of Excellence status). We bring to these our special features linked to cross-fertilisation between skills, fields and ethics, with genuine consideration of sustainable development, combining the environmental and human aspects, as encouraged by Pope Francis in the encyclical Laudato Si’.


We affirm our intention to work on societal topics in the tradition, continually updated, of the Church’s social thinking:

  • upholding of people’s dignity;
  • pursuit of the common good, intercultural and inter-religious training;
  • dialogue between science, culture and faith;
  • training in the ethics of science, technology, economics, labour and business;
  • action in aid of social causes, especially for the socially excluded and, on an international level, in developing countries;
  • physical, mental and spiritual health.

The work of the ecclesiastical departments, in association with the UCLy’s other institutes, is essential here.

Our research benefits from the indispensable institutional autonomy mentioned in the founding text of Catholic universities around the world (Ex corde Ecclesiae, 12). ‘Every Catholic University [...] possesses that institutional autonomy necessary to perform its functions effectively and guarantees its members academic freedom, so long as the rights of the individual person and of the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good.’

This freedom is also a responsibility that is a source of pride for us.

Our relationship with the Catholic Church is evidenced within our institutional bodies; the bishops of the dioceses of the university’s region are members of the Association of Founders and Protectors of the Catholic Institute of Lyon (AFPICL), alongside laypeople and under the authority of the Chancellor, the Archbishop of Lyon.

We play an active role in the national, European and international bodies for representation, reflection and research in Catholic higher education (Union des Établissements d’Enseignement Supérieur Catholique [the French Union of Catholic Higher Education Establishments], the European Federation of Catholic Universities in Europe and Lebanon, whose headquarters is housed at UCLy, and the International Federation of Catholic Universities), where the ‘fidelity to the Christian message’ (Ex corde Ecclesiae, 13) is deepened and renewed.


UCLy, along with all the staff in the university community, aligns itself with the greater tradition of social Catholicism, especially that of Lyon, paying attention to the uniqueness of each human being and the common good.

We work boldly and with humility, placing great importance on the quality and content of our courses, our internal governance and our responsibility to society .”

Text reviewed by the University Assembly and published on 12 March 2019

Download the UCLy charter