Revista Studii Teologice


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Valori ale studenţilor teologi, într-un context social marcat de numeroase constrângeri

Values and Attitudes Evinced by Students in Theology in Times of Economic crisis. A Survey

Autor(i): Pr. Dorin OPRIŞ

Education is one of the major concerns of any society, especially the education of
a country’s future elite, such as the students in Theology. The Church has always
inquired into the student’s spiritual outlook so that their academic achievements and
their preparation for future pastoral, didactic and social activity may be as good as
possible. Current education, in our country as well as others, increasingly makes use of
the results of psychology research, in order to identify the challenges faced by teaching
activity and provide the best solutions to them.
The present survey, conducted among 400 students of the Faculties of Theology
in Alba Iulia, Sibiu and Timişoara, attending the Pastoral and Social Work departments,
addresses a highly relevant issue: the values and attitudes evinced by the future
clergymen, during times of economic crisis. We have investigated the causal relationship
between the crisis manifest in individual religious and moral life, and various aspects of
social, economic and political life, as well as the personal response of young theologians,
based on the knowledge and experience they had gained during their academic
The multitude and variety of the aspects revealed by questionnaire items have
allowed quality and quantity investigations concerning the self, God, membership groups
(family, friends, colleagues), the Romanian society and people. Data analysis allows the
identification of aspects that may be improved, both in regard to the theological academic
curriculum (in its cognitive and formative aspects), and the student-professor relations.
The first item aimed to identify matters of inward spiritual life, and it is directly
relevant since present-day students will become opinion formers and advisers of
Christians of all ages. More than half of the respondents evinced states of mind that are
potentially conducive to distress. This calls for an analysis of the psychological formation
of the future priests, their awareness of the stages in faith experience, so that they may
overcome their own limitations or the obstacles that challenge their academic
development and their ability to support others.
One of the most important questionnaire items aimed to ascertain how the
respondents relate to religious and moral values. Out of ten statements concerning
religious and ethical values, respectively non-values, students in Theology were requested
to select the statements they deemed to be true. The data evinced options appropriate to
theologians, but also misunderstandings over fundamental theological matters. For
instance, none of the academic years unanimously agreed with the statements: “The
world is created by God”, “I believe that there are saints, angels, devils”, as there were
options for the statement “Man has evolved from monkey as a species.” The same trend is
evinced regarding the ethical values: distrust of the regenerative character of ethical
values, both individually and in relation to their impact on society; the existence of a
number of students who do not regard abortion as murder, who justify theft, etc.
The third item aimed to reveal respondents’ attitude towards family life. The
collected data reveal that almost three quarters of students belong to families that foster
Christian values – love, unity and mutual respect as the foundation of religious-moral life
and the model for the future families of the families. Here also to a proportion of
students fidelity in the family (and family itself) is irrelevant.
Attitude towards schooling was the object of the following item, as the necessity
to understand school as a fundamental institution in the formation of human personality
is universally acknowledged. Our investigation aimed to ascertain student’s perception of
school, their relationship with their professors, as well as their appreciation of the formal
curriculum. Over ten percent of the students find no value in schooling, and the
percentage of students valuing education decreases gradually as students approach
graduation from university.
All items display an increase in the percentage describing negative aspects in the
case of third-year students, which evinces an identity and relational crisis affecting up to
40% of them.
In order to ascertain how they relate to their fellow students, item no.5 required
them to select one out of three statements describing their own generation. The results
indicate that two thirds of the students feel they belong to their generation, however
without entirely accepting its values and behaviour. The remaining third includes the
extremes, as well as students who cannot tell whether they share values with their own
Three quarters of the respondents show by their answers to item no. 6 their
awareness of the negative aspects of Romanian public arena and mass-media. The same
proportion frequently use the Internet for information and communication (item no.7),
which demonstrates that the classical sources of information are increasingly paralleled
by the electronic ones.
Item no.8 was designed to reveal the attitude of students in Theology towards
Romanian society and people. Most options evince commitment to national values, to a
great extent associated with Orthodoxy. Positive answers peaked for the first- and second-
year respondents, who study these notions under the history-centered disciplines.
The way in which the economic crisis had affected respondents’ life over the period
preceding the survey was investigated by item no.9. One third of the students stated
that they were not affected by the crisis. One fifth of the students consider the crisis as
artificial and the result of a manipulation campaign. Thus the current crisis has caused
no negative effects on approximately half of the students. The other half shows both how
they have been affected by the crisis, and the solutions by which they attempted to
overcome it.
One last aspect investigated by item no.10 concerned responsibility students took
for themselves, their families and society. Two thirds of the respondents felt most
responsible for themselves and their families. Accountability for society ranked second,
for over one tenth of the respondents. Both percentages display a linear growth from the
first to the fourth year of study, demonstrating increased responsibility as well as the
results of the education received within a theological academic environment.
The conclusion reached by processing the data supplied in this questionairre
filled out by 400 students in Theology confirms the assumption underlying our survey:
the set of values accepted and promoted during times of economic crisis depends on the
depth of religious experience as well as a number of factors related to academic
development or the influence of family, mass-media and societal views.

Misiune şi pastoraţie
Pagini: 251-272