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Report supports mandatum requirement for Catholic theology professors

Catholic World News - July 24, 2012

In a new report on teaching at American Catholic universities, the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) argues that theology professors should be required to obtain the mandatum, the local bishop’s assurance that the professors will accurately present the teachings of the Catholic faith.

The CNS report, entitled A Mandate for Fidelity, notes that many American Catholic universities have not required theologians to obtain the mandatum, despite the requirement of the Code of Canon Law. Patrick Reilly, the president of the CNS, said that adopting the mandatum requirement now would strengthen “the work of colleges and universities to renew their Catholic identity.”

Pope Benedict XVI has taken a keen interest in the mandatum question, the CNS report notes. In a May 5 address to visiting bishops from the US, the Pope spoke about the changes need in Catholic universities, “especially in such areas as compliance with the mandate laid down in Canon 812 for those who teach theological disciplines.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the apostolic signatura, told the CNS that the Pope’s mention of the mandatum signaled a special interest in that issue. “That he would devote one of the lengthier communications with the bishops to the subject indicates to me that it is a serious concern on his part,” he said.

While some theology professors have resisted the call for the mandatum, saying that it would place constraints on their academic freedom, the executive director of the US bishops’ doctrinal committee argued that the requirement should not be seen as onerous. “The whole point public recognition that somebody is truly a Catholic theologian,” said Father Thomas Weinandy. “I don’t know why you would want to keep that hidden.”

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  • Posted by: Thomas429 - Jul. 24, 2012 9:34 PM ET USA

    This makes sense to me. It would seem absolutely logical to require that professors of theology at a "Catholic Institution" would be required to meet with Catholic authority and seek its approval. I'd even see that persons with hostility to Catholic teaching would be excluded from any position at a "Catholic Institution".

  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Jul. 24, 2012 7:58 PM ET USA

    Really, I mean really? Are the Bishops / were the past Bishops really that naive? How long has this been going on... Please don't say from the late '60s. No wonder Catechesis is in the state it's in.

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Jul. 24, 2012 6:31 PM ET USA

    This is a great idea. "Academic freedom" doesn't trump fidelity to the teachings of Christ's only Church. No one ought to teach theology who does not have a deeep interior life and fidelity to authentic Catholic teachings and dogmas. In the old days no one was considered a theologian unless they were deep men of prayer and faithful to the Church.

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