Theologians’ Mandatum “Not Meant to Be a Meaningless Norm”

source: http://blog.cardinalnewmansociety.org/2012/08/20/theologians-mandatum-not-meant-to-be-a-meaningless-norm/

The National Catholic Register is reporting on The Cardinal Newman Society’s special report on implementation of the mandatum, following Pope Benedict XVI’s statements urging “compliance” with the canonical mandate for college professors who teach Catholic theology.

Senior writer Tim Drake reports in the Register’s new print edition:

Of the nation’s more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities, only a handful publicly disclose that their theologians have the mandatum.

…“We hear often from Catholic families who are distressed and confused by the secrecy at many Catholic universities regarding the mandatum,” said [Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick] Reilly. “They believe they have a right as Catholics and consumers to know which professors are committed to authentic Catholic theology, and they are dismayed that any college course would be taught in shadows and darkness, least of all Catholic theology.”

The primary concern of the theologians who do not publicly disclose whether they have the mandatum is that “it will diminish them in the esteem of the secular academic world,” noted Jesuit Father James Conn, professor of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, who is currently serving as professor of the practice of canon law at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. “They feel that it would somehow diminish their academic freedom to be beholden to the ecclesiastical authority when their colleagues do not have to,” explained Father Conn.

Cardinal [Raymond] Burke, [prefect of the Vatican’s canon law courts,] however, said that as a public declaration, in writing, the mandatum is a public act. “The fact that I teach in accord with the magisterium is a public factor,” said Cardinal Burke. “Ultimately, the mandatum gives that assurance to students that, if they enroll in a given college or university, they can count upon receiving a solid education in Catholic theology.”

“The reason for the law is a kind of truth in advertising,” said Father Conn. “Otherwise, it serves no purpose. Canon 812 was not meant to be a meaningless norm.”

The Cardinal Newman Society’s full report, “A Mandate for Fidelity,” can be found online here.