Making Colleges Catholic: Bishops & Academics Reach Common Ground

Gallin, Alice. "Making Colleges Catholic: Bishops & Academics Reach Common Ground," Commonweal CXXIV, no. 6 (March 28, 1997): 14-17.

Alice Gallin describes how United States Catholic bishops and the presidents of Catholic colleges and universities reached an agreement during a 1996 meeting about the implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The presidents felt that Ex Corde Ecclesiae threatened academic freedom and autonomy, the legal standings of their schools with regard to government funding, and the relationship between the universities and the Catholic hierarchy. The bishops were concerned about the Catholic identity of these colleges and universities, orthodoxy in theological teaching, and the moral formation of students. Argument and debate particularly centered around the controversial Canon 812, which mandated Catholic theologians at Catholic institutions of higher education. Participants in the meeting were able to avoid an impasse by sharing a commitment not to divide Catholic higher education. There was agreement that the criteria for “Catholic identity” in higher education needed better definition. A decision to hold regional meetings for informational purposes and a article from a European bishop, suggesting a non-juridical means of satisfying Canon 812, eased tensions even further. In the end, all involved agreed to follow the wording of Ex Corde Ecclesiae that asked for mutual trust, close cooperation, and continued dialogue. Gallin concludes by pointing out that this meeting provides a model for how an initially confrontational meeting can be made productive. (LT)