Twentieth Anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae
From the Cardinal Newman Society:
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.