U.S. Theology Professors Given Rules

Bishops Approve Guidelines

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ATLANTA, Georgia, JUNE 18, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops´ conference has approved guidelines requiring professors of theology at Church-affiliated colleges and universities to teach «authentic Catholic doctrine.»

The guidelines are a central part of a broader effort initiated by John Paul II in his 1990 apostolic constitution «Ex Corde Ecclesia» to ensure that Catholic institutions teach authentic Church doctrine on social issues.

The bishops on Friday also:

–forbade the nation´s 1,140 Catholic health care facilities to participate in the use of sterilization as a means of birth control.

–approved a revised document that says reception of holy Communion under both species allows for Catholics «to experience a ´fuller sign of the Eucharistic banquet.´» The revised version of «This Holy and Living Sacrifice» says, «Communion from the chalice is to be preferred to any other form of ministering the Precious Blood.»

The guidelines for Catholic theologians spell out no specific penalties for those who refuse to follow the rules and seek a mandatum, a form of approval, from their local bishops. But individual Catholic schools could adopt rules requiring faculty to abide by the guidelines.

Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk of Cincinnati warned his colleagues that «there is no mechanism to make anyone do anything. We cannot make the college make that a requirement for hiring.» The guidelines were approved by a voice vote.

When the bishops took the first step two years ago toward adoption of the new guidelines, many Catholic professors voiced concern that academic freedom could be threatened. Those fears appear to have moderated.

The Washington Post reported that Father David M. O´Connell, president of the Catholic University of America, contended that hostility between academics and the bishops has largely dissipated.

«The feeling among the bishops is that the relationship between the scholars and the bishops is closer than ever,» he told the Post.

The conference OK´d a «sample» mandatum form for a Catholic teacher seeking the approval of the bishop: «As a teacher of a theological discipline, therefore, I am committed to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church´s magisterium.»

The guidelines define theological disciplines as the teaching of «sacred Scripture, dogmatic theology, moral theology, pastoral theology, canon law, liturgy and Church history.»

The requirement to obtain a mandatum from the local bishop applies only to Catholic teachers of the theological disciplines; a non-Catholic professor would not have to meet the requirements. Current teachers have until June 1, 2002, to apply for a mandatum. New instructors are required to obtain a mandatum within the academic year or within six months of being hired, whichever is longer.

If a teacher fails to obtain a mandatum within the required time, the guidelines provide only that «the competent ecclesiastical authority should notify the appropriate authority in the college or university.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation