So what effect has Blessed John Paul II’s Ex corde Ecclesiae had on Catholic colleges in America? Has it infringed on academic freedom and created a new Inquisition as some academicians publicly worried at the time of its release. Or has it had a beneficial effect on the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges?
The National Catholic Register reports that U.S. bishops have reportedly been in dialogue with the presidents of Catholic universities about U.S. implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae, and are now finalizing a report stating that while John Paul’s document has had a positive effect, there’s still much to be done.
“There seems to be a sense that Ex corde has had a very positive influence in bringing about a consciousness of focusing on the Catholic identity of colleges and universities,” said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry of Los Angeles, who until November was chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education. “It has led to a lot of progress over the last 10 years, and there’s a long way still to go.”
Blessed John Paul II issued Ex corde Ecclesiae in 1990 to clarify the mission of Catholic colleges and universities around the world.
As you might recall, in 2001, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops instituted norms for the U.S. implementation of Ex corde. This past year’s review, which included discussion between bishops and presidents of Catholic colleges, was a 10-year follow-up of this implementation, according to the Register.
A report will be presented to the bishops next month to the USCCB’s president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and to Bishop Joseph McFadden of Harrisburg, Pa., the chairman of the education committee.
Archbishop Dolan will decide along with the Committee on Catholic Education, what, if any, further actions are warranted.
Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly told the Register that he believes Ex Corde has had a beneficial effect on Catholic colleges and has improved relationships between the U.S. bishops and Catholic universities. “I’m very optimistic,” he said. “There’s widespread interest in strengthening Catholic identity.”
Reilly said the challenge moving forward will be developing concrete processes to implement Ex corde more effectively with respect to key matters such as whether the majority of trustees and faculty are Catholic and whether what is being taught in theology programs is consistent with Catholic teachings.
The Catholic University of America is held up as an example of a college with a revitalized Catholic identity in the past decade and is included in the latest edition of the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.