On the Solemnity of the Assumption, August 15, 2010, The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) will commemorate the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex corde Ecclesiae. CNS has written an extensive Timeline and Background of Ex corde Ecclesiae to mark the anniversary and shed light on the importance of this historic Church constitution.
“The requirements of Ex corde Ecclesiae are of continuing importance for Catholic colleges and universities in 2010,” said CNS President Patrick J. Reilly. “We are still in the midst of the educational crisis to which Ex corde responded 20 years ago, and we await full implementation of the constitution’s ‘norms’ in the U.S. In order to rediscover the Catholic identity of their colleges and universities, presidents and board members must revisit the vital message of this landmark document.”
Reilly continued, “A new generation of Catholic administrators, professors and students are already reaping the fruit of strong Catholic identity brought about by adherence to Ex corde. Catholic colleges and universities included in our Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College have worked to integrate the principles of Ex corde into every aspect of their institutions.”
“On this anniversary, CNS and its more than 20,000 members continue to pray that more Catholic university leaders will embrace Ex corde Ecclesiae and courageously stand up for Catholic teaching in a world that is so desperately searching for the Truth.”
On August 15, 1990, Pope John Paul II responded to the decades-long crisis in Catholic higher education by issuing the apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae. The document, which has the binding effect of Church law, was the first official Catholic Church document defining the essential relationship between Catholic institutions of higher education and the Church.
Inspired by the message of Ex corde Ecclesiae, Patrick J. Reilly and other recent Catholic college graduates founded The Cardinal Newman Society in 1993 to seek the faithful implementation of the apostolic constitution in the United States.
Ex corde Ecclesiae’s guidelines include:
· the requirement for any official action of a Catholic university to be in harmony with its Catholic identity;
· the responsibility of all Catholic university professors and administrators to promote, or at least to respect, the institution’s Catholic identity;
· the need of all professors of Catholic theology to have a “mandate” from the local bishop to teach; and
· the requirement that Catholic professors should be in the majority at a Catholic university.
In 1999, the U.S. bishops approved clear guidelines to implement Ex corde. Since then, it is evident that most of Catholic higher education is still undergoing the crisis that Ex corde was issued to address.
CNS continues to report on the abuses of Catholic identity that take place across the United States every year. Recent examples such as Notre Dame’s bestowal of an honorary doctorate of law upon pro-abortion President Barack Obama, the increasing support for abortion and gay “marriage” among Catholic students, and the fact that nearly one in eight Catholics leave the Church by their graduation from Catholic colleges demonstrate that the “educational emergency,” in Pope Benedict XVI’s words, is still prevalent.
Two years ago, during his visit to the United States of America, Pope Benedict XVI convened a meeting of Catholic college and university presidents in Washington, D.C., where he echoed key themes of Ex corde on the importance of Catholic identity. The Holy Father told the Catholic presidents that the current “crisis of truth” is rooted in a “crisis of faith.”
In 2011, the U.S. bishops are scheduled to conduct a review of the implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae over the past 10 years since their particular guidelines for American institutions went into effect. Details for this review have not yet been made public.
CNS narrates the story of Ex corde Ecclesiae and its implementation in the Timeline and Background of Ex corde Ecclesiae. [Source]
Amazing turnaround at Catholic institutions since this document was released. The bishops had quite a difficult time responding to all the requests for the mandatum for every professor of Catholic theology as required in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. I am really happy that every official action of Catholic institutions is in accord with it’s Catholic Identity now. If it wasn’t for this obedience to Ex corde Ecclesiae who knows what would have happened – perhaps annual performances of The Vagina Diaglogues or invitations to radically pro-abortion speakers. Or think about all the students who could have gotten a very inferior view of Church teaching due to theology professors not faithful to the Church and the damage that would have caused.
I was also amazed at how this turnabout came about since initially these Catholic institutions tried to stick to the party line of Academic Freedom to resist Ex corde Ecclesiae. When this happened Catholic parents decided not to send their children to any school which was not in conformance with Ex corde Ecclesiae. Catholic School alumni also stopped promoting those schools who did not conform and would not donate a dime until they did conform to Church teaching. Plus all the bishops who threatened to pull Catholic institution from the list of Catholic institutions and to not allow them to claim Catholic identity unless they could also claim obedience to the Church.
[This is the part where the dream sequence ends and we return to the reality where only Catholic institutions who were already faithful to the Church implemented Ex corde Ecclesiae and the rest screamed Academic Freedom]
Good summary of Catholic academia’s reaction, and the response by faithful Catholics. This gives me hope for the Church, as long as we remain vigilant, and vote with our wallets.
As an alumnus of a certain university in dire need of Ex Corde Ecclesiae — you know, the one with the Golden Dome and the football team — I would encourage those who want to see our universities return to fidelity to not abandon the schools altogether, but rather to target their support at those students and faculty who are working for reform from the inside.
In the case of my own alma mater, I recommend this group in particular:
Who wants to make a wager regarding the bishops 10 year review? I’m betting it will either be kept internal or if it is released it will be a bunch of patting each other on the back because while there is still work to be done they have made so much progress. Which is obviously a lie but we all know the bishops won’t issue a review that says “we’re sorry, epic fail.”