Issued by NCCB/USCC, June 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001,
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights
Approved by the United States Conference of Catholic
In December 2000 the NCCB Ad Hoc Committee on the Mandatum sent a
draft copy of these guidelines to all bishops for their use in conversations on
the local level with theologians. The final draft entitled Guidelines
Concerning the Academic Mandatum in Catholic Universities was
discussed and accepted for publication by the general membership at its June
2001 General Meeting. The accepted guidelines have been authorized for
publication by the undersigned.
Msgr. William P. Fay
Copyright © 2001, United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this
work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and
retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright
To order Guidelines Concerning the Academic Mandatum in
Catholic Universities in its official published format, contact USCCB
Publishing Services, 800-235-8722 (in the Washington metropolitan area or from
outside the United States, 202-722-8716).
On November 17, 1999, the Catholic Bishops of the United States approved
The Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae for the United States, implementing
the apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae. This action received the
recognitio from the Congregation for Bishops on May 3, 2000. Bishop
Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops (USCCB), decreed that the Application would have the force of
particular law for the United States on May 3, 2001.
Pope John Paul II's constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae of 1990 fostered a
productive dialogue between the Bishops of the United States and the leaders of
Catholic colleges and universities. It is anticipated that this recently
approved Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae for the United States will
further that conversation and build a community of trust and dialogue between
Bishops and theologians. Without ongoing and respectful communication, the
implementation of the mandatum might appear to be only a juridical constriction
of the work of theologians. Both Bishops and theologians are engaged in a
necessary though complementary service to the Church that requires ongoing and
mutually respectful dialogue.
Article 4, 4, e, iv, of the
Application states that "a detailed procedure will be developed outlining
the process of requesting and granting (or withdrawing) the mandatum."
These guidelines are intended to explain and serve as a resource for the
conferral of the mandatum. Only those guidelines herein that repeat a
norm of the Application have the force of particular law. They were
accepted for distribution to the members of the USCCB on June 15, 2001, by the
Conference's general membership.
- Nature of the mandatum.
- The mandatum is fundamentally an acknowledgment by church
authority that a Catholic professor of a theological discipline is teaching
within the full communion of the Catholic Church (Application: Article 4,
4, e, i).
- The object of the mandatum is the content of the professor's
teaching, and thus the mandatum recognizes both the professor's "lawful
freedom of inquiry" (Application: Article 2, 2) and the professor's
commitment and responsibility to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to
refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the
Church's magisterium (cf. Application: Article 4, 4, e, iii).
- The mandatum should not be construed as an appointment,
authorization, delegation, or approbation of one's teaching by church
authorities. Theologians who have received a mandatum are not catechists;
they teach in their own name in virtue of their baptism and their academic and
professional competence, not in the name of the Bishop or of the Church's
magisterium (Application: Article 4, 4, e, ii).
- Who is required to have the mandatum?
- All Catholics who teach Catholic theological disciplines in a
Catholic university are required to have a mandatum (canon 812 and
Application: Article 4, 4, e).
- In accord with canon 812, the mandatum is an obligation of the
professor, not of the university.
- "Teaching" in this context signifies regular presentation (by full-time or
part-time professors) of academic material in an academic institution.
Occasional lectures as well as preaching and counseling are not within the
meaning of the Application and these guidelines.
- "Catholic theological disciplines" in this context signifies Sacred
Scripture, dogmatic theology, moral theology, pastoral theology, canon law,
liturgy, and church history (cf. canon 252).
- "University" in this context signifies not only institutions that bear the
title "university" but also Catholic colleges and other institutions of higher
- Who is to grant the mandatum?
- The mandatum is to be granted by the diocesan Bishop of the
diocese in which the Catholic university is located, generally understood to be
where the president and central administration offices are located (cf.
Application: Article 4, 4, e , iv, ).
- The competent ecclesiastical authority may grant the mandatum
personally or through a delegate (Application: Article 4, 4, e, iv,
- How is the mandatum to be granted?
- A request for a mandatum by a professor of a Catholic
theological discipline should be in writing and should include a declaration
that the teacher will teach in full communion with the Church.
- The ecclesiastical authority should respond in writing (Application:
Article 4, 4, e, iv, ) (see Appendix for samples).
- An ecclesiastical authority has the right to offer the mandatum on
his own initiative (which requires an acceptance), provided that the commitment
to teach in full communion with the Church is clear.
- A professor already hired by the effective date (May 3, 2001) of the
Application is required to obtain the mandatum by June 1,
A professor hired after the effective date of the
Application is required to obtain the mandatum within the academic
year or within six months of the date of being hired, whichever is longer.
If the professor does not obtain the mandatum within the time
period given above, the competent ecclesiastical authority should notify the
appropriate authority in the college or university.
- Without prejudice to the rights of the diocesan Bishop, a mandatum,
once granted, remains in effect wherever and as long as the professor teaches
unless and until it is withdrawn by the competent ecclesiastical authority
(Application: Article 4, 4, e, iv, ). Although there is no need for
the mandatum, once granted, to be granted again by another diocesan
Bishop, every diocesan Bishop has the right to require otherwise in his own
diocese (Application: footnote 43).
- If the Bishop is contemplating the denial or withdrawal of the
mandatum, he should discuss this informally with the theologian, listing
the reasons and identifying the sources, and allowing the theologian to make all
- Grounds and process for withholding or withdrawing the mandatum.
- If all the conditions for granting the mandatum are fulfilled,
the professor has a right to receive it and ecclesiastical authority has an
obligation in justice to grant it.
- Right intentions and right conduct are to be presumed until the contrary is
proven. Hence the ecclesiastical authority should presume, until the contrary is
proven, that those who attest that they teach in full communion with the Church
actually do so.
- Ecclesiastical authorities who, after discussion with the professor in
question, withhold or withdraw the mandatum must state their reasons in
writing and otherwise enable the person who believes that his or her rights have
been violated to seek recourse (Application: Article 4, 4, e, ;
footnote 44). Such withholding or withdrawal should be based on specific and
detailed evidence that the teacher does not fulfill the conditions of the
mandatum (these Guidelines: 1, b, and c, supra;
Application: Article 4, 4, e, iii; NCCB, Doctrinal Responsibilities:
Approaches to Promoting Cooperation and Resolving Misunderstandings Between
Bishops and Theologians [Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic
Conference, 1989], III, C, 4).
- Any negative judgment concerning an objectionable portion of a professor's
work should be assessed at three levels: (1) the significance of that portion of
the professor's work within the context of his or her overall theological
contribution; (2) its relationship to the larger Catholic tradition; (3) its
implications for the life of the Church (cf. Doctrinal Responsibilities,
III, C, 4).
- Appeals and resolution of disputes.
- Because the decision to withhold or withdraw the mandatum
touches on the rights of theologians, the general principles of canon law should
be adhered to in seeking recourse and in the process of appeal.
- In the resolution of disputes about the withholding or withdrawal of the
mandatum, it is important for both parties to have competent canonical
and theological counsel.
- For the resolution of disputes about the withholding or withdrawal of the
mandatum, there should be that contact between the Bishop and the
professor as urged in canon 1733§1. The process set forth in Doctrinal
Responsibilities should be followed. The right of all parties to good
reputation must always be honored (cf. canon 220).
- Other means for conflict resolution on the diocesan, regional, or provincial
levels (not excluding local mediation procedures) can also be invoked (cf. canon
- While the use of informal procedures is preferable, the aggrieved party
always has the right to formal recourse against the denial or withdrawal of a
mandatum in accordance with the canonical norms for "Recourse Against
Administrative Decrees" (canons 1732-1739).
- Diocesan Bishops who have Catholic colleges or universities in their
dioceses are encouraged to be available to meet with professors of Catholic
theological disciplines to review concrete procedures for the granting,
withholding, or withdrawal of the mandatum and to discuss other matters
of common interest.
- The members of the USCCB Committee for Bishops and Catholic Colleges and
University Presidents and its staff will serve as resource personnel for
information and guidance on matters connected with the mandatum.
- These guidelines are to be reviewed after five years by a committee
appointed by the Conference President.
Sample Mandatum Draft
Attestation of the Professor of
Catholic Theological Disciplines
I hereby declare my role and
responsibility as a professor of a Catholic theological discipline within the
full communion of the Church.
As a professor of a Catholic theological
discipline, therefore, I am committed to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and
to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the
of Diocesan Bishop
I hereby acknowledge your declaration to remain
within the full communion of the Catholic Church in fulfillment of your role and
responsibility as a teacher of Catholic theological disciplines.
recognize your commitment as a teacher of Catholic theological disciplines to
teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic
teaching anything contrary to the Church's magisterium.
mandatum does not constitute you as an agent of the magisterium, it does
affirm that your work as a teacher of Catholic theological disciplines is an
important part of the Church's mission.
This mandatum remains in
effect as long as you are engaged in the teaching of theology or until it is
withdrawn by competent ecclesiastical authority for a just
Sample Mandatum Draft
(Offered by the
Bishop on His Own Initiative)Memorandum
||Professor Thomas Bellarmine
||Most Reverend Angelo Buonpastore
This memorandum constitutes the mandatum that you are required to have
in order to be in compliance with canon 812. The purpose of the mandatum
is to recognize the mutual ecclesial relationship that exists between the Church
and teachers of Catholic theology. It also constitutes my grateful response to
your participation in the Church's mission.____________________________________________________
I hereby acknowledge your
role and responsibility as a teacher of Catholic theology within the full
communion of the Catholic Church.
As a teacher of Catholic theology you
are committed to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting
forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church's
While this mandatum does not constitute you as an
agent of the magisterium, it does affirm that your work as a teacher of theology
is an important part of the Church's mission.
remains in effect as long as you are engaged in the teaching of Catholic
theology or until it is withdrawn by appropriate authority for a just
This mandatum takes effect upon my receipt of the enclosed
statement of your understanding and acceptance of its terms.
I, Thomas Bellarmine, have reviewed the mandatum offered to me
by Bishop Angelo Buonpastore and, by means of my signature, express my
understanding and acceptance of its