Pope Benedict XVI called on America’s Catholic colleges and universities to reaffirm their Catholic identity by ensuring orthodoxy in theological studies and accepting the oversight of bishops.
The pope made his remarks May 5 to U.S. bishops from Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming, who were making their periodic “ad limina” visits to the Vatican.
While he acknowledged recent efforts by America’s Catholic institutions of higher education to “reaffirm their distinctive identity in fidelity to their founding ideals and the church’s mission,” Pope Benedict said that “much remains to be done.”
The pope emphasized the need for compliance with canon law in the appointment of theology instructors, who are required to possess a “mandate” from the “competent ecclesiastical authority,” ordinarily the local bishop.
The requirement for a mandate was underscored in 1990 by Blessed John Paul II in his apostolic constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” but many Catholic theology departments in the U.S. have yet to comply.
Pope Benedict said that the need for a mandate was especially clear in light of the “confusion created by instances of apparent dissidence between some representatives of Catholic institutions and the church’s pastoral leadership.”
“Such discord harms the church’s witness and, as experience has shown, can easily be exploited to compromise her authority and her freedom,” the pope said.
U.S. bishops have clashed with the administrations of Catholic colleges and universities on a number of occasions in recent years, with some of the most prominent cases involving invited speakers who dissent from Catholic moral teaching.
Rocco, meantime, has the complete text of Benedict’s remarks.