A report by the U.S. bishops finds a positive relationship between Catholic universities in America and the Church, while encouraging continued cooperation and growth.
“Bishops reported that they believe our institutions of Catholic higher
education have made definite progress in advancing Catholic identity,”
the document stated.
“The relationship between bishops and presidents on the local level can
be characterized as positive and engaged, demonstrating progress on
courtesy and cooperation in the last ten years,” it explained.
Released Jan. 10, the report marks the 10-year anniversary of the
application of “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” an apostolic constitution written
by Pope John Paul II in 1990 to offer reflections and norms for the
identity and mission of Catholic colleges.
“It is in the context of the impartial search for truth,” the Pope says
in the document, “that the relationship between faith and reason is
brought to light and meaning…The renewal requested of Catholic
Universities will make them better able to respond to the task of
bringing the message of Christ to man, to society, to the various
The Holy Father continues in the document to describe of aims of the
Catholic university in pastoral ministry, evangelization, and
catechesis. He also outlines the responsibilities of the bishops and
dioceses in supporting the mission of Catholic universities.
The U.S. bishops approved the application of “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” in
1999, and it went into effect in 2001, with directives to perform
reviews of its success every five years.
In November 2011, the bishops met in regional meetings to discuss the state of Catholic higher education in their area.
According to the report, written by Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of
Harrisburg, who chairs the bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education,
“the prevailing tone was positive and the news was good.”
“Clarity about Catholic identity among college and university
leadership has fostered substantive dialogues and cultivated greater
mission driven practices across the university,” he wrote.
The report also offered suggestions for improvement. It said that the
Committee on Catholic Education will form a working group of bishops and
college presidents to further study avenues for cooperation between the
Church and Catholic universities around the nation.
Areas to be addressed in the future include hiring for mission; forming
faculty, staff and trustees in Catholic identity; continuing
cooperative dialogue between bishops and presidents to promote the
Church’s mission; and curricular and pastoral means to offer accurate
theological and catechetical knowledge.
In exploring these subjects, the working group will “continue the
dialogue about strategic subjects on a national level,” the report said.
“As they consider topics, they will gather information regarding best
practices, offer suggestions for conversation at the local level, and as
needed, develop resources,” it explained.