Prior to the start of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall general assembly in Baltimore this week, the bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education met and voted to accept recommendations of a working group on how to approach the 2011 10-year review of the implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Chronicle of Higher Education has reported.
Ex corde Ecclesiae is Pope John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education, which, in part, requires that any official action of a Catholic university be in harmony with its Catholic identity.
"In the wake of continued scandals in Catholic higher education,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS), “this is an historic opportunity for the U.S. bishops to demonstrate that they mean business, and the scandals must end. Twenty years after Ex corde Ecclesiae was issued by the Vatican, nearly every Norm has not been fully implemented in the United States. The 10-year review planned by the education committee -- advised by some of the most secularized universities -- seems insufficient to address the very serious scandal of Catholic higher education that is too often hostile to the faith. Based on the news reports, I am greatly disappointed."
The recommendations to the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, according to the Chronicle, include five suggested questions for bishops to use in private conversations with the presidents of Catholic colleges within their respective dioceses. These questions are reportedly based on the ones created for the 5-year review of Ex corde Ecclesiae, with an additional question and altered language which links “the questions more directly to the application document.”
The questions for the five-year review were:
- In what ways have the Catholic identity and character of the institution been clarified and enhanced during the first five years of Ex corde Ecclesiae implementation? How has the support of the bishop been helpful in this?
- How has communion with the local church been strengthened, both by initiatives coming from the institution and by initiatives coming from the bishop or from activities of the local church?
- In what ways has it been possible to incorporate the spirit and norms of Ex corde Ecclesiae in its full content, including the mandatum, in the actual situation of the institution? In what ways has the support of the bishop been helpful in this? What issues have arisen and what remains to be done?
- What is the best way to continue this dialogue between the bishop and an individual president and / or a group of presidents from the diocese, as called for in Ex corde Ecclesiae?
During the fall general assembly the bishops’ will choose a new president for the USCCB, whose responsibility it will be to decide how to convey the committee’s questions to the bishops and presidents and how to carry out the review, theChronicle further reported.
This year, The Cardinal Newman Society is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Ex corde. In honor of the anniversary, CNS conducted a media campaign to raise awareness about Ex corde, issued an in-depth Timeline and Background of the document and published an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education. In 2009, CNS published The Enduring Nature of the Catholic University, a ground-breaking collection of proposals for authentic Catholic higher education written by influential Catholic scholars and Church leaders.
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