Guidelines for Carrying Out Papal Statement Are 'Dangerous,' Say 2 Catholic Educators

by Robin Wilson

The presidents of Boston College and the University of Notre Dame on Friday published an article saying that the latest guidelines proposed to carry out a Papal document are “positively dangerous” to Roman Catholic institutions in America.p. The Rev. Edward A. Malloy, president of Notre Dame, and the Rev. J. Donald Monan, chancellor of Boston College, say the guidelines threaten academic freedom and independent governance at Catholic institutions. They wrote about their objections to the guidelines inn article in the Jesuit magazine America.p. The guidelines that Father Malloy and Father Monan criticize were issued in November and are aimed at carrying out Ex corde Ecclesiae, a document released by Pope John Paul II in 1990 that is intended to define the relationship between the church and Catholic institutions of higher education throughout the world.p. Although the two men say the document issued in November is “forceful” in its defense of academic freedom, they claim that itcontradicts itself in several ways. In particular, the documentwould require theology professors at Catholic institutions to “havea mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority,” something Father Malloy and Father Monan object to. They also criticize thedocument’s suggestion that theology professors “make a profession of faith and take an oath of fidelity,” and that colleges “condition a professor’s appointment on integrity of doctrine and good character.” At a meeting in November where American bishops debated the proposed guidelines, the head of the Cardinal Newman Society for the Preservation of Catholic Higher Education embraced them. Because Catholic colleges and universities “belong to a much larger community and mission, it is reasonable and necessary for these schools to have an official connection to the church and to live up to general standards,” said Mo Fung, executive director of the society.p. But in their article, Father Malloy and Father Monan say that the document, if approved by American bishops, “would be profoundly detrimental to Catholic higher education.” They add: “Universities’ acceptance of the obligations spelled out here would mean the sacrifice of many of those prerogatives that make Catholic universities and their professional staffs the respected and influential members of the higher education community that they are.”

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