The Faculty of Catholic Theology was founded by Duke Albrecht III. and pope Urban VI. gave the clerical approval on 21st February 1384. Therefore it is the oldest faculty of theology in the German-speaking world.
The founder Professors Heinrich von Langenstein and Heinrich Totting von Oyta gave significance to the Faculty as well as Theologians from Vienna who played an important role at the Councils of Konstanz and Basel. Furthermore a large number of Students at the Faculty helped the Faculty attain distinction.
After a stagnation period during Reformation the Faculty gained importance again through Petrus Canisius, who was the first german member of the Society of Jesus. He worked as a professor and dean of the Faculty and advocated a reform of the studies under the government of Ferdinand I. From 1551 until its dissolution in 1773 mainly members of the Society of Jesus were working as professors of theology. The numbers of students increased significantly again. In 1774 Franz Stephan Rautenstrauch reformed the academic studies, and for the first time the subjects "Historical Theology" and "Pastoral Theology" were included in the curriculum.
From the mid-19th century there was a stagnation of theological research, because theology as a scientific principle was put into question. Nevertheless Anton Günther, one of the most influential theologians of the 19th century, worked in Vienna. Dealing with the German idealism, he sought a new philosophical foundation of the Catholic Theology. In the era of National Socialism, the Faculty of Vienna in Austria was the only Faculty of Catholic Theology, which, though limited, could carry on their operation. After 1945 the Faculty of Catholic Theology became a center of theological-scientific research again differentiating its teaching and increasing its study programmes.
Today the Faculty of Catholic Theology is one of 15 faculties at the university of Vienna and one of the largest in the German-speaking world. It sees itself as a place of academic research and study in dialogue with other sciences, with members of the public society and the Church. Currently there are about 1,200 students from 30 different countries studying at the Faculty of Catholic Theology. Students can choose between nine different degree programmes (Bachelor-, Master-, Diploma-, Doctoral- and PhD-programmes). About 70 scientists work at the Faculty currently. The Faculty is structured in eight departments, 11 areas of studies and four main focuses of research. The Faculty of Catholic Theology is a member of five research platforms of the University of Vienna. The Library of the Faculty of Catholic and Protestant Theology comprises of 350 000 volumes and is therefore one of the largest theological libraries in Central Europe.
Johann Reikerstorfer/Martin Jäggle (Hg.): Vorwärtserinnerungen. 625 Jahre Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät der Universität Wien, Göttingen 2009
Ernst Chr. Suttner (Hg.): Die Kath.-Theologische Fakultät der Universität Wien 1884-1984. Festschrift zum 600-Jahr-Jubiläum. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot 1984
Anton Wappler: Geschichte der theologischen Facultät der K.K. Universität zu Wien. Festschrift zur Jubelfeier ihres fünfhundertjährigen Bestehens. Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller 1884