Decree of Promulgation
On November 17, 1999,
the Catholic Bishops of the United States, meeting in Plenary Session of the
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, approved The Application of Ex
corde Ecclesiae for the United States implementing the Apostolic
Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, according to the norm of law.
The action was granted recognitio by the Congregation for Bishops in accord
with article 82 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus and issued by Decree
of the Congregation for Bishops signed by His Eminence Lucas Cardinal Moreira
Neves, Prefect, and His Excellency Most Reverend Francisco Monterisi,
Secretary, and dated May 3, 2000.
As President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby decree
that The Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae for the United States will be
in force as particular law for the United States on May 3, 2001.
Given at the offices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in
Washington, DC, on June 1, 2000.
Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza
Bishop of Galveston-Houston
President, National Conference of Catholic Bishops
Reverend Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr
education in the United States has a unique history. The opening of Georgetown
in 1789 and subsequent growth into 230 Catholic colleges and universities is a
remarkable achievement for the Church and the United States.
Catholic colleges and universities are related to the ecclesial community, to
the higher education enterprise of the United States and to the broader
society. Founded and developed principally by religious communities of women
and men, they now involve lay administrators, professors and trustees who are
Catholic and not Catholic—all committed to the vision of Catholic higher
Catholic colleges and universities, where culture and faith intersect, bring
diversity to American higher education. Diversity is present among the
institutions themselves: two-year colleges and graduate program universities;
liberal arts colleges and research universities; schools for the professions
and schools for technical education.
To all participating in Catholic higher education, the Bishops of the United
States express their admiration and sincere gratitude, knowing that both the
nation and ecclesial community are affected by their commitments and talents.
Bishops want to maintain, preserve and guarantee the Catholic identity of
Catholic higher education, a responsibility they share in various ways with
sponsoring religious communities, boards of trustees, university
administration, faculty, staff and students.
Part One: Theological
and Pastoral Principles
1. Ex corde Ecclesiae
On August 15, 1990, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic constitution on
Catholic higher education entitled Ex corde Ecclesiae.1 The
Apostolic Constitution described the identity and mission of Catholic colleges
and universities and provided General Norms to help fulfill its vision.
The General Norms are to be applied concretely by episcopal conferences, taking
into account the status of each college and university and, as far as possible
and appropriate, civil law. Accordingly, recognizing that the Apostolic
Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae is normative for the Church throughout
the world, this document seeks to apply its principles and norms to all
Catholic colleges, universities, and institutions of higher learning within the
territory encompassed by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.
2. The Ecclesiological
Concept of Communion
The Church is made up of individual faithful and communities linked with one
another through many active ecclesial relationships. A true understanding of
these dynamic relationships flows from the faith-conviction that God the
Father, through His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, has revealed His desire to
incorporate all people into the life of the Trinity. It is in the Church,
through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that this relationship of all
persons and communities with the Triune God takes place. This body of dynamic
relationships held together by the unity of faith is aptly described in the
theological concept of communion.2
The dynamic of communion unites on a deeper and more productive level the
various communities in the Church through which so much of her mission of
salvation, and consequently human progress, is carried out. More specifically,
ecclesial communion furnishes the basis for the collaborative relationships
between the hierarchy and Catholic universities contemplated in Ex corde
Ecclesiae: "Every Catholic University is to maintain communion with the universal
Church and the Holy See; it is to be in close communion with the local Church
and in particular with the diocesan bishops of the region or the nation in
which it is located."3 The Catholic university is a vital
institution in the communion of the Church and is "a primary and privileged
place for a fruitful dialogue between the Gospel and culture."4
The richness of communion illuminates the ecclesial relationship that unites
the distinct, and yet complementary, teaching roles of bishops and Catholic
universities. In the light of communion, the teaching responsibilities of the
hierarchy and of the Catholic universities retain their distinctive autonomous
nature and goal but are joined as complementary activities contributing to the
fulfillment of the Church's universal teaching mission. The communion of the
Church embraces both the pastoral work of bishops and the academic work of
Catholic universities, thus linking the bishops' right and obligation to
communicate and safeguard the integrity of Church doctrine with the right and
obligation of Catholic universities to investigate, analyze and communicate all
The communion of all the faithful with the Triune God and with one another is a
theological reality expressing the will of God. It is by understanding and
living this communion that bishops and Catholic universities can most
effectively collaborate to fulfill their proper mission within the Church. In
carrying out its mission to search for truth, the Catholic university is
uniquely situated to serve not only the people of God but the entire human
family "in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to
3. The Catholic
University's Twofold Relationship
Catholic universities are participants in the life of the universal Church, the
local Church, the higher education community of the United States and the civic
community. As such, they "are called to continuous renewal, both as
'universities' and as 'Catholic.'"6 This twofold relationship is
described in the May 22, 1994, joint document of the Congregation for Catholic
Education and the Pontifical Councils for the Laity and for Culture, which
states that the Catholic university achieves its purpose when
. . . it gives proof of being rigorously serious
as a member of the international community of knowledge and expresses its
Catholic identity through an explicit link with the Church, at both local and
universal levels—an identity which marks concretely the life, the services and
the programs of the university community. In this way, by its very existence,
the Catholic university achieves its aim of guaranteeing, in institutional
form, a Christian presence in the university world. . . .7
One of the ways this relationship is clarified
and maintained is through dialogue that includes faculty of all disciplines,
students, staff, academic and other administrative officers, trustees, and
sponsoring religious communities of the educational institutions, all of whom
share responsibility for the character of Catholic higher education. The bishop
and his collaborators in the local Church are integral parties in this
The Catholic university is related to the local and universal ecclesial
community8 as well as to the broader society9 and the
higher education academy.10 In this document we are directing
special attention to the relationship between universities and Church
authorities. Ex corde Ecclesiae provides one of the ecclesiological
principles to address this specific relationship.
Bishops have a
particular responsibility to promote Catholic Universities, and especially to
promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic
identity, including the protection of their Catholic identity in relation to
civil authorities. This will be achieved more effectively if close personal and
pastoral relationships exist between University and Church authorities,
characterized by mutual trust, close and consistent cooperation and
continuing dialogue. Even though they do not enter directly into the
internal government of the University, Bishops "should be seen not as external
agents but as participants in the life of the Catholic University." [italics
Each of these elements in the pastoral
relationship of bishops with Catholic universities warrants attention.
4. Mutual Trust Between
University and Church Authorities
Mutual trust goes beyond the personalities of those involved in the
relationship. The trust is grounded in a shared baptismal belief in the truths
that are rooted in Scripture and Tradition, as interpreted by the Church,
concerning the mystery of the Trinity: God the Father and Creator, who works
even until now; God the Son and incarnate Redeemer, who is the Way and the
Truth and the Life; and God the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, whom the Father and
Son send. In the spirit of communio, the relationship of trust between
university and Church authorities, based on these shared beliefs with their
secular and religious implications, is fostered by mutual listening, by
collaboration that respects differing responsibilities and gifts, and by a
solidarity that mutually recognizes respective statutory limitations and
5. Close and Consistent
Cooperation Between University and Church Authorities
Collaborating to integrate faith with life is a necessary part of the "close
personal and pastoral relationships"12 to which universities and
bishops are called. Within their academic mission of teaching and research, in
ways appropriate to their own constituencies and histories, including their
sponsorship by religious communities, institutions offer courses in Catholic
theology that reflect current scholarship and are in accord with the authentic
teaching of the Church.
Many cooperative programs, related to Gospel outreach, already flourish
throughout the country. It is highly desirable that representatives of both
educational institutions and Church authorities jointly identify, study, and
pursue solutions to issues concerning social justice, human life and the needs
of the poor.
Allocation of personnel and money to assure the special contributions of campus
ministry is indispensable. In view of the presence on campus of persons of
other religious traditions, it is a concern of the whole Church that ecumenical
and inter-religious relationships should be fostered with sensitivity.
A structure and strategy to insure ongoing dialogue and cooperation should be
established by university and Church authorities.
6. Continuing Dialogue
Among University Representatives and Church Authorities
Dialogues occasioned by Ex corde Ecclesiae may be graced moments
a. a manifest openness to a
further analysis and local appropriation of Catholic identity;
b. an appreciation of the
positive contributions that campus-wide conversations make; and
c. a conviction that
conversation can develop and sustain relationships.
A need exists for continued attention and
commitment to the far-reaching implications—curricular, staffing,
programming—of major themes within Ex corde Ecclesiae. These include
Catholic identity, communio, relating faith and culture, pastoral outreach, the
New Evangelization, and relationship to the Church.
7. Catholic Identity
Catholic identity lies at the heart of Ex corde Ecclesiae. In 1979, Pope
John Paul II, in an address to the Catholic academic community at The Catholic
University of America, stressed the importance of the Catholic character of
Catholic institutions of higher learning:
Every university or
college is qualified by a specified mode of being. Yours is the qualification
of being Catholic, of affirming God, his revelation and the Catholic Church as
the guardian and interpreter of that revelation. The term 'Catholic' will never
be a mere label either added or dropped according to the pressures of varying
Catholic universities, in addition to their
academic commitments to secular goals and programs, should excel in theological
education, prayer and liturgy, and works of charity. These religious
activities, however, do not alone make a university "Catholic." Ex corde
Ecclesiae highlights four distinctive characteristics that are essential
for Catholic identity:
1. Christian inspiration in
individuals and the university community;
2. Reflection and research
on human knowledge in the light of the Catholic faith;
3. Fidelity to the
Christian message in conformity with the magisterium of the Church;
4. Institutional commitment
to the service of others.14
Catholic universities cherish their Catholic tradition
and, in many cases, the special charisms of the religious communities that
founded them. In the United States, they enjoyed the freedom to incorporate
these religious values into their academic mission. The principles of Ex
corde Ecclesiae afford them an opportunity to re-examine their origin and
renew their way of living out this precious heritage.
Catholic universities enjoy institutional autonomy: as academic institutions
their governance "is and remains internal to the institution."15 In
order to maintain and safeguard their freely-chosen Catholic identity, it is
important for Catholic universities to set out clearly in their official
documentation their Catholic character and to implement in practical terms
their commitment to the essential elements of Catholic identity, including the
5. Commitment to be
faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church;
6. Commitment to Catholic
ideals, principles and attitudes in carrying out research, teaching and all
other university activities, including activities of officially-recognized
student and faculty organizations and associations, and with due regard for
academic freedom and the conscience of every individual;16
7. Commitment to serve
others, particularly the poor, underprivileged and vulnerable members of
8. Commitment of witness of
the Catholic faith by Catholic administrators and teachers, especially those
teaching the theological disciplines, and acknowledgment and respect on the
part of non-Catholic teachers and administrators of the university's Catholic
identity and mission;
9. Commitment to provide
courses for students on Catholic moral and religious principles and their
application to critical areas such as human life and other issues of social
10. Commitment to care pastorally
for the students, faculty, administration and staff;
11. Commitment to provide
personal services (health care, counseling and guidance) to students, as well
as administration and faculty, in conformity with the Church's ethical and
religious teaching and directives; and
12. Commitment to create a
campus culture and environment that is expressive and supportive of a Catholic
way of life.
should make every effort to enhance their communion with the hierarchy so that
through this special relationship they may assist each other to accomplish the
mission to which they are mutually committed.
In a secular world the strong Catholic identity of our institutes of higher
learning is invaluable in witnessing to the relationship of truth and reason,
the call of the revealed Word, and the authentic meaning of human life. "The
present age is in urgent need of this kind of disinterested service, namely of
proclaiming the meaning of truth, that fundamental value without which freedom,
justice and human dignity are extinguished."17
Part Two: Particular
The chief purpose of the
following norms is to assist Catholic colleges and universities in their
internal process of reviewing their Catholic identity and clarifying their
essential mission and goals. They are intended to provide practical guidance to
those committed to the enterprise of Catholic higher education as they seek to
implement the theological and pastoral principles of Ex corde Ecclesiae.
Accordingly, the norms follow the basic outline of the General Norms found in Ex
corde Ecclesiae and provide concrete steps that will facilitate the
implementation of the Holy Father's document in the context of the relevant
sections of the Code of Canon Law and complementary Church legislation.18
Art. 1. The Nature of
the Particular Norms
1. These particular norms
are applicable to all Catholic colleges, universities and institutions of
higher learning within the territory encompassed by the National Conference of
Catholic Bishops, contrary particular laws, customs or privileges
2. Catholic universities
are to observe the general norms of Ex corde Ecclesiae and the following
particular norms as they apply to their individual institutions, taking into
account their own statutes and, as far as possible and appropriate, relevant
provisions of applicable federal and state law, regulations and procedures.
a. Those universities
established or approved by the Holy See, by the NCCB, by other hierarchical assemblies,
or by individual diocesan bishops are to incorporate, by reference and in other
appropriate ways, the general and particular norms into their governing
documents and conform their existing statutes to such norms. Within five years
of the effective date of these particular norms, Catholic universities are to
submit the aforesaid incorporation for review and affirmation to the
university's competent ecclesiastical authority.
b. Other Catholic
universities are to make the general and particular norms their own, include
them in the university's official documentation by reference and in other
appropriate ways, and, as much as possible, conform their existing statutes to
such norms. These steps to ensure their Catholic identity are to be carried out
in agreement with the diocesan bishop of the place where the seat of the
university is situated.20
c. Changes in statutes of
universities established by the hierarchy, religious institutes or other public
juridic persons that substantially affect the nature, mission or Catholic
identity of the university require the approval of competent ecclesiastical
3. Those establishing or
sponsoring a Catholic university have an obligation to make certain that they
will be able to carry out their canonical duties in a way acceptable under
relevant provisions of applicable federal and state law, regulations and
Art. 2. The Nature of a Catholic University
1. The purpose of a
Catholic university is education and academic research proper to the
disciplines of the university. Since it enjoys the institutional autonomy
appropriate to an academic institution, its governance is and remains internal
to the institution itself. This fundamental purpose and institutional autonomy
must be respected and promoted by all, so that the university may effectively
carry out its mission of freely searching for all truth.23
2. Academic freedom is an
essential component of a Catholic university. The university should take steps
to ensure that all professors are accorded "a lawful freedom of inquiry and of
thought, and of freedom to express their minds humbly and courageously about
those matters in which they enjoy competence."24 In particular,
"[t]hose who are engaged in the sacred disciplines enjoy a lawful freedom of
inquiry and of prudently expressing their opinions on matters in which they
have expertise, while observing the submission [obsequio] due to the
magisterium of the Church."25
3. With due regard for the
common good and the need to safeguard and promote the integrity and unity of
the faith, the diocesan bishop has the duty to recognize and promote the
rightful academic freedom of professors in Catholic universities in their
search for truth.26
4. Recognizing the dignity
of the human person, a Catholic university, in promoting its own Catholic
identity and fostering Catholic teaching and discipline, must respect the
religious liberty of every individual, a right with which each is endowed by
5. A responsibility of
every Catholic university is to affirm its essential characteristics, in accord
with the principles of Ex corde Ecclesiae, through public acknowledgment
in its mission statement and/or its other official documentation of its
canonical status28 and its commitment to the practical implications
of its Catholic identity, including but not limited to those specified in Part
One, Section 7 of this document.
6. The university (in
particular, the trustees, administration, and faculty) should take practical
steps to implement its mission statement in order to foster and strengthen its
Catholic nature and character.29
Art. 3. The Establishment of a Catholic
1. A Catholic university
may be established, or an existing university approved, by the Holy See, the
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, other hierarchical assemblies, or
individual diocesan bishops. It may also be established by a religious
institute or some other public juridic person, or by individual Catholics,
acting singly or in association, with proper ecclesiastical approval.30
2. At the time of its
establishment the university should see to it that its canonical status is
identified, including the ecclesiastical authority by which it has been
established or approved or to which it otherwise relates.31
3. The statutes of Catholic
universities established by hierarchical authority or by religious institutes
or other public juridic persons must be approved by competent ecclesiastical
4 .No university may assume
the title Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical
Art. 4. The University Community
1. The responsibility for
safeguarding and strengthening the Catholic identity of the university rests
primarily with the university itself. All the members of the university
community are called to participate in this important task in accordance with
their specific roles: the sponsoring religious community, the board of
trustees, the administration and staff, the faculty, and the students.34
Men and women of religious faiths other than Catholic, on the board of
trustees, on the faculty, and in other positions, can make a valuable
contribution to the university. Their presence affords the opportunity for all
to learn and benefit from each other. The university should welcome them as
full partners in the campus community.
Board of Trustees
a. Each member of the board
must be committed to the practical implications of the university's Catholic
identity as set forth in its mission statement or equivalent document.
b. To the extent possible,
the majority of the board should be Catholics committed to the Church.
c. The board should develop
effective ways of relating to and collaborating with the local bishop and
diocesan agencies on matters of mutual concern.35
d. The board should analyze
ecclesiastical documents on higher education, such as Ex corde Ecclesiae
and this Application, and develop specific ways of implementing them
appropriate to the structure and life of the university.
e. The board should see to
it that the university periodically undertakes an internal review of the
congruence of its mission statement, its courses of instruction, its research
program, and its service activity with the ideals, principles and norms
expressed in Ex corde Ecclesiae.
a. The university president
should be a Catholic.36
b. The administration
should inform faculty and staff at the time of their appointment regarding the
Catholic identity, mission and religious practices of the university and
encourage them to participate, to the degree possible, in the spiritual life of
c. The administration
should be in dialogue with the local bishop about ways of promoting Catholic
identity and the contribution that the university can make to the life of the
Church in the area.
a. In accordance with its
procedures for the hiring and retention of professionally qualified faculty and
relevant provisions of applicable federal and state law, regulations and
procedures, the university should strive to recruit and appoint Catholics as
professors so that, to the extent possible, those committed to the witness of
the faith will constitute a majority of the faculty. All professors are
expected to be aware of and committed to the Catholic mission and identity of
b. All professors are
expected to exhibit not only academic competence and good character but also
respect for Catholic doctrine.37 When these qualities are found to
be lacking, the university statutes are to specify the competent authority and
the process to be followed to remedy the situation.38
c. Catholic theology should
be taught in every Catholic university, and, if possible, a department or chair
of Catholic theology should be established. Academic events should be organized
on a regular basis to address theological issues, especially those relative to
the various disciplines taught in the university.39
d. Both the university and
the bishops, aware of the contributions made by theologians to Church and
academy, have a right to expect them to present authentic Catholic teaching.
Catholic professors of the theological disciplines have a corresponding duty to
be faithful to the Church's magisterium as the authoritative interpreter of
Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.e. Catholics who teach the
theological disciplines in a Catholic university are required to have a mandatum
granted by competent ecclesiastical authority.40
i. The mandatum is
fundamentally an acknowledgment by Church authority that a Catholic professor
of a theological discipline is a teacher within the full communion of the
ii. The mandatum
should not be construed as an appointment, authorization, delegation or
approbation of one's teaching by Church authorities. Those who have received a mandatum
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
iii. The mandatum
recognizes 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.
iv. The following procedure
is given to facilitate, as of the effective date of this Application, the
process of requesting and granting the mandatum. Following the approval
of the Application, a detailed procedure will be developed outlining the
process of requesting and granting (or withdrawing) the mandatum.
1. The competent
ecclesiastical authority to grant the mandatum is the bishop of the
diocese in which the Catholic university is located; he may grant the mandatum
personally or through a delegate.42
2.Without prejudice to the
rights of the local bishop,43 a mandatum, once granted,
remains in effect wherever and as long as the professor teaches unless and
until withdrawn by competent ecclesiastical authority.
should be given in writing. The reasons for denying or removing a mandatum
should also be in writing.44
5.Students. With due regard for the principles of religious
liberty and freedom of conscience, students should have the opportunity to be
educated in the Church's moral and religious principles and social teachings
and to participate in the life of faith.45
a. Catholic students have a
right to receive from a university instruction in authentic Catholic doctrine
and practice, especially from those who teach the theological disciplines. They
also have a right to be provided with opportunities to practice the faith
through participation in Mass, the sacraments, religious devotions and other
authentic forms of Catholic spirituality.
b. Courses in Catholic
doctrine and practice should be made available to all students.
c. Catholic teaching should
have a place, if appropriate to the subject matter, in the various disciplines
taught in the university.46 Students should be provided with
adequate instruction on professional ethics and moral issues related to their
profession and the secular disciplines.
Art. 5. The Catholic University in the Church
a.The university shall
develop and maintain a plan for fulfilling its mission that communicates and
develops the Catholic intellectual tradition, is of service to the Church and
society, and encourages the members of the university community to grow in the
practice of the faith.47
b.The university plan
should address intellectual and pastoral contributions to the mission of
communicating Gospel values,48 service to the poor, social justice
initiatives, and ecumenical and inter-religious activities.
a. In accordance with
Church teaching and the universal law of the Church, the local Bishop has a
responsibility to promote the welfare of the Catholic universities in his
diocese and to watch over the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic
b. Bishops should, when
appropriate, acknowledge publicly the service of Catholic universities to the
Church and support the institution's Catholic identity if it is unjustifiably
c. Diocesan and university
authorities should commit themselves mutually to regular dialogues to achieve
the goals of Ex corde Ecclesiae according to local needs and
d. University authorities
and the local diocesan bishop should develop practical methods of collaboration
that are harmonious with the university's structure and statutes. Similar forms
of collaboration should also exist between the university and the religious
institute to which it is related by establishment or tradition.50
Responsibilities: Approaches to Promoting Cooperation and Resolving
Misunderstandings between Bishops and Theologians, approved and published by the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops, June 17, 1989, can serve as a useful guide for
diocesan bishops, professors of the theological disciplines and administrators
of universities to promote informal cooperation and collaboration in the
Church's teaching mission and the faithful observance within Catholic
universities of the principles of Catholic doctrine.
f. Disputes about Church
doctrine should be resolved, whenever possible, in an informal manner. At
times, the resolution of such matters may benefit from formal doctrinal
dialogue as proposed by Doctrinal Responsibilities and adapted by the
parties in question.51
g. The National Conference
of Catholic Bishops, through an appropriate committee structure, should
continue to dialogue and collaborate with the Catholic academic community and
its representative associations about ways of safeguarding and promoting the
ideals, principles and norms expressed in Ex corde Ecclesiae.
Art. 6. Pastoral
1. The diocesan bishop has
overall responsibility for the pastoral care of the university's students,
faculty, administration and staff.52
2.The university, in
cooperation with the diocesan bishop, shall make provision for effective campus
ministry programs, including the celebration of the sacraments, especially the
Eucharist and penance, other liturgical celebrations, and opportunities for
prayer and spiritual reflection.53
3. When selecting pastoral
ministers—priests, deacons, religious and lay persons—to carry on the work of
campus ministry, the university authorities should work closely with the
diocesan bishop and interested religious institutes. Without prejudice to the
provision of canon 969, §2, priests and deacons must enjoy pastoral faculties
from the local ordinary in order to exercise their ministry on campus.
4. With due regard for
religious liberty and freedom of conscience, the university, in cooperation
with the diocesan bishop, should collaborate in ecumenical and interfaith
efforts to care for the pastoral needs of students, faculty and other
university personnel who are not Catholic.
5. In these pastoral
efforts, the university and the diocesan bishop should take account of the
prescriptions and recommendations issued by the Holy See and the guidance and
pastoral statements of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.54
Art. 7. Cooperation
1. Catholic universities
should commit themselves to cooperate in a special way with other Catholic
universities, institutions and professional associations, in the United States
and abroad, in order to build up the entire Catholic academic community.55
2. In collaborating with
governmental agencies, regional associations, and other universities, whether
public or private, Catholic universities should give corporate witness to and
promote the Church's social teaching and its moral principles in areas such as
the fostering of peace and justice, respect for all human life, the eradication
of poverty and unjust discrimination, the development of all peoples and the
growth of human culture.56
This Application will
become effective one year after its recognitio by the Holy See. During
the five years following the effective date of this Application, the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops in collaboration with representatives of
Catholic universities should develop a mutually agreeable process to review and
evaluate the implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae and this Application,
particularly regarding the nature, mission and Catholic identity of the
Ten years after the effective date of this Application, the National Conference
of Catholic Bishops will review this Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae
for the United States.
The Bishops of the United States, in offering this application of Ex corde
Ecclesiae, join in sentiments expressed by Pope John Paul II:
I turn to the whole Church, convinced that
Catholic universities are essential to her growth and to the development of
Christian culture and human progress. For this reason, the entire ecclesial
community is invited to give its support to Catholic institutions of higher
education and to assist them in their process of development and renewal. . . .57
1. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic
Constitution on Catholic Universities Ex corde Ecclesiae, August 15, 1990,
AAS 82 (1990) pp. 1475-1509 [cited throughout the remainder of this document as
ECE]. English translation: Origins, CNS Documentary Service, October 4, 1990.
In accordance with canon 455, §1, the United States Conference of Bishops
promulgates this Application as a response to the special mandate of the
Apostolic See (cf. ECE, II, Art. 1, §2). The Application refers to Catholic
universities and other institutes of higher learning (cf. canons 807-814);
excluded from the Application's treatment are ecclesiastical universities and
faculties (cf. canons 815-821), which are governed by the Apostolic
Constitution, Sapientia Christiana (see below footnote 19).
See Vatican Council II,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium
) 4, 7, 9-29 (Chapter
II: the People of God) and passim
; Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the
Church Understood as Communion," Origins
22 (1992), 108-112; Catechism
of the Catholic Church
, nn. 787-801 and passim; 1985 Extraordinary Synod of
Bishops, "A Message to the People of God," Origins
15 (1985), 441-444,
and "The Final Report," Origins
15 (1985), 444-450.
3. ECE, II, Art. 5, §1.
, I, n. 43. See also ECE, I, n. 49. For purposes
of stylistic simplicity, this document, in both the "Theological and Pastoral
Principles" and "Particular Norms," uses the word "university" as a generic
term to include universities, colleges and other institutions of higher
5. ECE, I, 13, quoting from "The Catholic University
in the Modern World," the final document of the Second International Congress
of Delegates of Catholic Universities, Rome, November 20-29, 1972, Sec. 1.
6. ECE, Introduction, n. 7.
7. "The Church's Presence
in the University and in University Culture," II, §2, Origins, June 16,
8. ECE, I, nn. 27-29, 31.
9. Ibid., I, nn. 32-37.
10. Ibid., I, nn. 12, 37;
II, Art. 7, §§1-2.
11. Ibid., I, n. 28. The citation
at the end is from John Paul II, Address to Leaders of Catholic Higher
Education, Xavier University of Louisiana, U.S.A., September 12, 1987, n.
4: AAS 80 (1988) 764.
12. ECE, I, n. 28.
13. Pope John Paul II,
Address "Ad prope et exstantes sedes Studiorum Universitatis Catholicae
profectus hanc allocutionem fecit ad moderatores et doctores eiusdem Athenaei
atque ad legatos Collegiorum Universitatumque Catholicarum totius Nationis,"
October 6, 1979, AAS 71:13 (1979) 1260.
14. ECE, I, n. 13 [quoting "The Catholic University in
the Modern World," the final document of the Second International Congress of
Delegates of Catholic Universities, Rome, November 20-29, 1972, Sec. 1].
15. See ECE, I, n. 12
and footnote 15; Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the
Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) 59; Declaration on Catholic Education
(Gravissimum educationis) 10.
16. See ECE, II, Art.
17. ECE, I, n. 4.
18. See ECE, II, Art.
1, §§1 & 2.
19. ECE, II, Art. 11: "Any particular laws or customs
presently in effect that are contrary to this constitution are abolished. Also,
any privileges granted up to this day by the Holy See whether to physical or
moral persons that are contrary to this present constitution are abolished."
These Particular Norms are not applicable to ecclesiastical universities and
faculties insofar as they are governed by the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia
20. See ECE, II, Art.
21. See ECE, II, Art.
22. See canon 807 and ECE,
Art. 3; Congregation for Catholic Education, Directives to Assist in the
Formulation of the Ordinances for the Apostolic Constitution "Ex corde
Ecclesiae," not dated, n. B1.
23. See above footnote 15.
24. Vatican Council II,
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes)
62. A university's commitment to Catholic ideals, principles and attitudes is
not only consistent with academic freedom and the integrity of secular
subjects, it requires "[f]reedom in research and teaching" and respect for "the
principles and methods of each individual discipline." ECE, II, Art. 2,
25. C. 218.
26. See ECE, II, Art.
27. Though thoroughly imbued
with Christian inspiration, the university's Catholic identity should in no way
be construed as an excuse for religious indoctrination or proselytization. See
Vatican Council II, Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis humanae)
28. See footnote 31 for a
listing of canonical categories.
29. In this regard, the
university may wish to establish a "mission effectiveness committee" or some
other appropriate structure to develop methods by which Catholics may promote
the university's Catholic identity and those who are not Catholic may
acknowledge and respect this identity.
30. ECE, II, Art. 3, §§1-3, cf. Canon 808. Note that,
under Canon 322, private associations of the faithful can acquire juridic
personality by the issuance of a formal decree of competent ecclesiastical
authority (§1) and approval of their statutes, retaining, all the while, their
private character (§2).
31. A Catholic university
may be established by various ecclesiastical authorities or entities (e.g., the
Holy See) or by individual Catholics. Moreover, the university may be erected
as a self-standing public juridic person or it may be simply be a complex
"activity" or "apostolate" of a public juridic person. The following
alternatives outline different categories that describe a Catholic university
from the canonical perspective:
university as an apostolate of the Holy See. The Holy See may erect a university or approve an
already-established university as an apostolate of the Holy See itself. Such
universities, which are sometimes granted the title of "pontifical," are
erected or approved by a decree of the Holy See and their statutes must be
approved by the Holy See. The "competent ecclesiastical authority" to which
such universities are related is the Holy See through the Congregation for
university as an apostolate of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. An episcopal conference has the right to erect
a university or approve an already-established university as an apostolate of
the conference itself through the issuance of a decree and approval of its
statutes. The "competent ecclesiastical authority" to which such a university
is related is the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
university as an apostolate of a diocesan bishop or a group of diocesan
bishops. Diocesan bishops,
acting individually or jointly, have the right to erect a university or approve
an already-established university as a diocesan or inter-diocesan apostolate
through the issuance of a decree and approval of its statutes. The "competent
ecclesiastical authority" to which such a university is related is the
individual diocesan bishop or the group of diocesan bishops establishing or
university as an apostolate of a public juridic person. A university may be established or approved as
an apostolate of a public juridic person (such as a religious institute). In
such cases the consent of the bishop of the diocese in which the seat of the
university is situated (or of a group of bishops, the NCCB or the Holy See) and
approval of its statutes are required. Such a university relates to the public
juridic person that established or approved it and to the diocesan bishop (or
group of bishops, the NCCB or the Holy See) as its "competent ecclesiastical
university as public juridic person. A university may itself be erected as a public association of the
faithful or some other type of public juridic person (universitas rerum or
universitas personarum). Such juridic personality requires the issuance of
a decree of erection and approval of the statutes by the Holy See, the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops, or an individual or group of diocesan bishops.
university established by individuals. Individual Catholics may found a university or convert an
existing university into a Catholic institution without its being established
or approved by the Holy See, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops,
individual diocesan bishops or a public juridic person. Nonetheless, in
accordance with canon 808, such a university may refer to itself as Catholic
only with the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.
32. ECE, II, Art. 3, §4.
33. C. 808.
34. ECE, II, Art. 4, §1. In these norms the phrases
"board of trustees," "president" and "administration" are used to denote the
highest bodies of governance within the university's corporate and operational
structure. If, in an individual case, the university's governance uses a
different structure or other titles, the norms should be applied accordingly.
35. In individual
situations, it may be possible and appropriate to invite the diocesan bishop or
his delegate to be a member of the board itself. In other cases, arranging
periodic meetings to address the university's Catholic identity and mission may
prove more practical and effective.
36. Upon assuming the office
of president for the first time, a Catholic should express his or her
commitment to the university's Catholic identity and to the Catholic faith in
accordance with canon 833, §7 (see also Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, Formula Professio Fidei et Iusiurandum, July 1, 1988, AAS
81  104-106; and Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Rescriptum
ex audientia SS. mi Quod Attinet, September 19, 1989, AAS 81  1169).
When a candidate who is not a Catholic is being considered for appointment as
president of a Catholic university, the university should consult with the
competent ecclesiastical authority about the matter. In all cases, the
president should express his or her commitment to the university's Catholic
mission and identity.
37. The identity of a
Catholic university is essentially linked to the quality of its professors and
to respect for Catholic doctrine. The Church's expectation of "respect for
Catholic doctrine" should not, however, be misconstrued to imply that a
Catholic university's task is to indoctrinate or proselytize its students. Secular
subjects are taught for their intrinsic value, and the teaching of secular
subjects is to be measured by the norms and professional standards applicable
and appropriate to the individual disciplines. See ECE, II, Art. 4, §1
and above footnotes 24 and 27.
38. C. 810, §1.
40. C. 812 and ECE,
II, Art. 4, §3.
41. "Mandatum" is a technical term referring to the juridical
expression of the ecclesial relationship of communion that exists between the
Church and the Catholic teacher of a theological discipline in the Catholic
university. The prescription of canon 812 is grounded in the right and
responsibility of bishops to safeguard the faithful teaching of Catholic
doctrine to the people of God and to assure the authentic presentation of the
Church's magisterium. Those with such a mandatum are not agents of the
magisterium; they teach in their own name, not in the name of the bishop.
Nonetheless, they are not separate from the Church's teaching mission.
Responding to their baptismal call, their ecclesial task is to teach, write and
research for the benefit of the Church and within its communion. The mandatum
is essentially the recognition of an ecclesial relationship between the
professor and the Church (see canon 229, §3).
Moreover, it is not the responsibility of a Catholic university to seek the mandatum;
this is a personal obligation of each professor. If a particular professor
lacks a mandatum and continues to teach a theological discipline, the
university must determine what further action may be taken in accordance with
its own mission and statutes (see canon 810, §1).
42. The attestation or
declaration of the professor that he or she will teach in communion with the
Church can be expressed by the profession of faith and oath of fidelity or in
any other reasonable manner acceptable to the one issuing the mandatum.
43. Although the general
principle is that, once granted, there is no need for the mandatum to be
granted again by another diocesan bishop, every diocesan bishop has the right
to require otherwise in his own diocese.
44. Administrative acts in
the external forum must be in writing (c. 37). The writing not only
demonstrates the fulfillment of canon 812, but, in cases of denial or removal,
it permits the person who considers his or her rights to have been injured to
seek recourse. See canons 1732-1739.
45. In Gravissimum
educationis 10, the Vatican Council expressed the hope that students in
Catholic institutions of higher learning will become "truly outstanding in
learning, ready to shoulder society's heavier burdens and to witness the faith
to the world."
46. See above footnotes 27
47. See ECE, I, n. 38
ff. and footnote 44.
48. See ECE, I, nn.
49. See ECE, II, Art.
5, §2. See also the responsibilities of the diocesan bishop set forth in canons
392, §1; 394, §1; 756, §2; 810, §2; 813.
50. The following are some
suggestions for collaboration:
a. Arranging for the
diocesan bishop or his delegate and members of the religious institute to be
involved in the university's governance, perhaps through representation on the
board of trustees or in some other appropriate manner.
b. Sharing the university's
annual report with the diocesan bishop and the religious institute, especially
in regard to matters affecting Catholic identity and the religious institute's
c. Scheduling regular
pastoral visits to the university on the part of the diocesan bishop and the
religious institute's leadership and involving the members of the diocese and
the institute in campus ministry.
d. Collaborating on
evangelization and on the special works of the religious institute.
e. Conducting dialogues on
matters of doctrine and pastoral practice and on the development of
spirituality in accordance with the religious institute's charism.
f. Resolving issues
affecting the university's Catholic identity in accordance with established
procedures. (See ECE, II, Art. 5, §2 and ECE footnote 51.)
g. Participating together
in ecumenical and inter-faith endeavors.
h. Contributing to the
diocesan process of formulating the quinquennial report to the Holy See.
See National Conference
of Catholic Bishops, Doctrinal Responsibilities: Approaches to Promoting
Cooperation and Resolving Misunderstandings between Bishops and Theologians
June 17, 1989, Washington, D.C.: USCC, III, C, pp. 16-22. When such disputes
are not resolved within the limits of informal or formal dialogue, they should
be addressed in a timely manner by the competent ecclesiastical authority
through appropriate doctrinal and administrative actions, taking into account
the requirements of the common good and the rights of the individuals and
52. See canon 813
53. See ECE, II, Art.
54. See ECE, II, Art.
7, §1; National Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Sons and Daughters of the
Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults," Origins,
November 28, 1996, 384-402, especially 398-401; "Letter to College Students," Origins,
December 7, 1995, 429-430; Empowered by the Spirit, Washington, D.C.:
55. See ECE, I, n. 35
and ECE, II, Art. 7, §2.
56. See ECE, I, nn.
57. Ibid., Introduction, n.
In November 1999, Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza, president of the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops, petitioned the Apostolic See that these
executive norms of the apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae
approved according to the norm of law by a plenary session of the Conference,
be duly granted recognition. In May 2000, the Congregation for Bishops, after
consultation with the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical
Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, found these norms in
conformity with universal canon law and declared them valid. These norms are
printed here as The Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae for the United States
which is authorized for publication by the undersigned.
Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr
General Secretary, NCCB/USCC
Copyright © 2000, United States Catholic Conference, Inc., Washington, D.C. All
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