Yesterday, May 3, 2011, marked the ten-year anniversary of the U.S. Catholic bishops' implementation of Church law for Catholic colleges and universities.
The bishops' requirements, described in the Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae for the United States
, became effective on May 3, 2001, following approval by the Holy See. The requirements implement the 1990 Vatican constitution for Catholic higher education, Ex corde Ecclesiae
Today the President of The Cardinal Newman Society, Patrick J. Reilly, issued the following statement:
"Since 1993, hundreds of thousands of American Catholics have joined with The Cardinal Newman Society in support of the renewal of Catholic higher education, according to the mandate of the Vatican and the U.S. bishops more than a decade ago.
"It is fitting to celebrate signs that renewal is underway, led by several new and established institutions modeling a strong Catholic identity.
"But it is also a certain fact that Church law has been ignored at many, perhaps most, Catholic colleges and universities in the United States which have greatly secularized over the last 50 years. It would be tragic if this situation were to continue for another decade at those institutions that Blessed John Paul II called 'one of the best instruments that the Church offers to our age' to assist man's search 'for certainty and wisdom
"As a second decade begins, The Cardinal Newman Society recommits itself to advocating and assisting renewal, so that the next decade is one of great progress in Catholic higher education."
Among the U.S. bishops' requirements:
- Catholic colleges and universities should develop and conform to a plan "that communicates and develops the Catholic intellectual tradition, is of service to the Church and society, and encourages the members of the university community to grow in the practice of the faith."
- Students "have a right to receive from a university instruction in authentic Catholic doctrine and practice." Theologians are expected to have a "mandatum" granted by the local bishop, to "present authentic Catholic teaching," and to "be faithful to the Church's magisterium as the authoritative interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition."
- The majority of trustees should be "Catholics committed to the Church." The president "should be a Catholic." Most professors should be Catholics "committed to the witness of the faith." All professors should demonstrate "good character" and "respect for Catholic doctrine."
- The college or university should "periodically undertake[ ] an internal review of the congruence of its mission statement, its courses of instruction, its research program, and its service activity with the ideals, principles and norms expressed in Ex corde Ecclesiae
- Catholic colleges and universities "are to make [the requirements of Ex corde Ecclesiae
and the U.S. Application] their own, include them in the university's official documentation by reference and in other appropriate ways... and, as much as possible, conform their existing statutes to such norms."
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