Tag Archives: ex corde ecclesiae

When the state exposes Catholic identity concerns

Faithful Catholics are rightfully concerned about how some Catholic colleges and universities have rejected their Catholic identities because so few Catholic college leaders have implemented Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope St. John Paul II’s vision for authentic Catholic higher education.

Anne Hendershott

Anne Hendershott

Now, the federal government, through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), has stepped into the void. In a series of rulings that might have been more appropriate coming from bishops, the NLRB has pronounced that a number of Catholic colleges are eligible for unionization because they have “clearly demonstrated that they are not providing a religious educational environment.” Not surprisingly, it has ruled in nearly every case that “the Catholic mission plays no part in the hiring and evaluation of the faculty.”

The NLRB’s new test assessing faculty support for the Catholic mission emerged as a way to circumvent the 1979 Supreme Court case, NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago. The case denied jurisdiction over lay teachers at a Church-operated school because, the justices ruled, such interference would create a “significant risk” of violating the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses.

Today, faculty contributions to the Catholic mission cannot be assumed. Beyond a few dozen faithful Catholic colleges and universities, the NLRB knows that most Catholic colleges qualify for unionization because these institutions cannot demonstrate that the faculty are actually expected to uphold and advance Catholic teachings.

In 2015, the NLRB issued a “Certification of Representation” allowing adjunct professors and lecturers at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Earlier that same year, adjunct faculty at St. Michael’s College of Vermont voted in favor of joining the SEIU, and the NLRB ordered its regional officials to reconsider labor disputes involving employees at Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y., St. Xavier University Chicago, and Seattle University. School leaders had attempted to block unionization, claiming that such efforts posed a threat to their schools’ religious character.

Sadly, some had already sacrificed their religious character. It’s difficult for St. Mary’s to claim that its faculty supports Catholic teachings when the school has honored abortion proponents like Amy Richards, who visited the Catholic campus to positively proclaim her decision to “selectively reduce” two of her three unborn children.

Manhattan College is also an easy target for the NLRB. Religious studies professor Judith Plaskow published a book arguing that “heterosexism is the fundamentally religious endorsed form of oppression.” Two of Seattle University’s philosophy professors published A Brief, Liberal, Catholic Defense of Abortion, in which they argue that performing an abortion on a non-sentient fetus is like removing plant life.”

In each of these cases, the NLRB has judged that the institutions had distanced themselves so far from the authority and teaching of the Catholic Church that they no longer merited government recognition as religious institutions.

Still, there is reason for optimism as earlier this year, Carroll College in Helena, Mont., became the first Catholic college to convince the NLRB that the school “has always been and will continue to embrace and be guided by our mission.” Pointing to the faculty handbook which clearly states that a faculty member can be fired for “continued serious disrespect or disregard for the Catholic character or mission of the College,” the NLRB noted that it would “decline jurisdiction as long as the university’s public representations make it clear that faculty members are subject to employment-related decisions that are based on religious considerations.”

The SEIU is now helping to organize faculty at Loyola University of Chicago. Loyola’s interim president John Pelissero told the faculty that the SEIU was “not consistent with our deeply rooted Catholic intellectual tradition.” That may be difficult to argue as its law school hosts a chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice — an organization dedicated to helping to produce a new generation of abortion advocates.

Father Dennis Holtschneier, president of DePaul University (which also hosts a chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice), recently wrote: “Ultimately, the freedom to determine what is or is not religious activity inside our Church is at stake.” Perhaps it’s time for all faithful Catholics to reclaim the role that the state has attempted to assume in ensuring that Catholic colleges and universities protect what Pope Francis has called the “uncompromising witness” to the Church’s magisterial teachings.

ANNE HENDERSHOTT is an author, a professor of sociology and director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

Land O’Lakes Statement at 45

45 years after the Land O’ Lakes Statement, Catholic education is gaining strength . . .

Michael McLean

The 1960s was a time of great tumult in the United States — one that had devastating effects on the country’s institutions and mores.

Its ravages could be seen perhaps nowhere more clearly than on college campuses. Truth gave way to skepticism and relativism, and expressions such as “free love” and “question authority” became the catchphrases of student life.

Catholic colleges were not immune to these influences. Venerable institutions that for many scores of years had faithfully passed on the intellectual patrimony of the Church began to adopt the diluted curricula, methods, and aims of their secular counterparts. Not only was campus life at many of these institutions giving way to the permissiveness of the time, but a long-standing commitment to Catholic liberal education was quickly disappearing.

In 1967, against this backdrop, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre Dame, convened a group of prominent Catholic educators in Land O’Lakes, Wis. Their aim was to chart a new course for Catholic higher education in America, one that would resemble all too well that of their secular counterparts. The meeting resulted in a document entitled a Statement on the Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University.

Hoping to garner the kind of reputation for academic excellence enjoyed by secular institutions of higher learning, the statement declared, “The Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself” (my italics). Going even further, it stated that the Catholic university “should carry on a continual examination of all aspects and all activities of the Church and should objectively evaluate them.” In other words, where once the measure of the Catholic university was the Magisterium, now the Catholic university would not only be its own judge, but in an audacious upending of the tradition, it would also be the measure of the Church. Truly, this was a watershed moment for Catholic higher education in the United States.

Implicit in this declaration of autonomy was a deeply flawed understanding of freedom. Church teachings had for centuries been understood as a guide in the pursuit of truth, assisting those engaged in rigorous intellectual inquiry and bolstering their pursuit of knowledge about nature, man, and God. The Land O’Lakes Statement, however, asserted the opposite — that the truths of the faith were instead an impediment to legitimate academic inquiry.

This notion captured the attention of Thomas Aquinas College’s founders, themselves professors at this turbulent time, and it galvanized their desire to found a new institution. In 1969, they published what would become the college’s governing document. Entitled A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Education, it articulated an alternative view of the Catholic intellectual life, one that echoes Christ’s teachings that He “is the way, the truth, and the life” and that the “Truth shall set you free.” Thus reasserting fidelity to the teaching Church as its foundation, Thomas Aquinas College opened its doors in 1971.

In the years since, under the leadership of other courageous men and women, a number of additional faithful Catholic colleges have sprung up across the country. Moreover, some existing institutions have undertaken to re-establish their Catholic identity. On these campuses, Catholicism is not simply an addition to an otherwise secular project. It is at the heart of their endeavors. Together they are proving that fidelity to the teachings of the Church is no impediment to academic excellence.

Buttressing these efforts is Blessed John Paul II’s 1988 encyclical Fides et Ratio, which describes the complementary nature of faith and reason, “the two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” Ex Corde Ecclesiae, issued in 1990, elaborates on this theme. This apostolic constitution, in many ways a rebuttal to the Land O’Lakes Statement, articulates the nature and objectives of a Catholic university, stressing “fidelity to the Christian message” on the part of faculty members.

Despite the Church’s guidance, 45 years after the publication of the Land O’Lakes Statement, its false principle of “academic freedom” has become entrenched at many of our Catholic colleges and universities. Yet the new Catholic institutions that have the Church’s teachings at their heart are providing an antidote, not only for Catholic higher education, but for our culture. Having been well-formed intellectually, morally and spiritually, many of these institutions’ graduates are now teachers and professors themselves. They are committed to passing on the Church’s great intellectual tradition to young people at their alma maters, in seminaries and perhaps most importantly, at institutions that have yet to embrace the principles of Ex Corde. Our hopes for Catholic higher education — and for our country — lie with them.

Dr. Michael McLean is president of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., and a member of Legatus’ LA North/Ventura Chapter.

Catholic identity in Kansas

Faith fuels Benedictine College’s renaissance as it embraces its Catholic identity . . .

Special to Legatus Magazine

When Princeton law professor Robert George opened the new academic year at Benedictine College on Aug. 30, he addressed a college that has been transformed.

The largest student body in the Atchison, Kan., college’s 153-year history sat before him. The new classically designed Academic Center is nearly completed in the center of campus, on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. And George’s words will soon be shared with readers nationwide through the school’s The Gregorian speech digest promoting Catholic identity in public life.


College president Stephen D. Minnis attributes the school’s growth to its Catholic identity. “We consider Benedictine College a primary example of the power of Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” he said. “The college traces its renaissance to our efforts to strengthen our Catholic identity.”

Earlier this year, First Things magazine named Benedictine as one of the top 20 colleges in America. And this year’s enrollment of about 1,600 full-time undergraduates nearly triples its enrollment in 1990 when Blessed John Paul II wrote Ex Corde Ecclesiae, his apostolic constitution on higher education.

Minnis said that the school is eager to pass on to others the lesson it has learned: There is no need to be afraid of Catholic identity. It’s a theme that permeates the school.

For example, the college’s new nursing program was inaugurated on Blessed Mother Teresa’s birthday and is housed in the Mother Teresa Center for Nursing and Health Education. Before allowing the college to use that name, the Missionaries of Charity sought assurances that the school fully assented to Church teachings.

In the end, two Missionaries of Charity sisters assisted at the building’s dedication.

Academic Dean Kimberly Shankman told the National Catholic Register that, as a Catholic college, Benedictine nursing “can focus much more clearly on the morality of health care and can focus on the spiritual needs that should be addressed as part of a holistic approach to health care. All human beings, no matter how weak, sick or helpless, are made in the image and likeness of God. Our students learn that explicitly; at a state school that can’t be part of the curriculum.”

Benedictine’s newest effort is the Gregorian Institute to promote Catholic identity in public life. It’s named after St. Gregory the Great, who combined the riches of the Church with a great practical mind.

“We want to give scholarly backing to important principles of Catholic identity in public life through lectures, conferences and white papers featuring top Catholic thinkers,” said Tom Hoopes, The Gregorian editor. “This year we begin forming select students through a Gregorian Fellows program that focuses on the classics and leadership principles.”

Kansas is in the center of America. With Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback — Benedictine’s most recent commencement speaker — promoting ground-breaking pro-life initiatives in the statehouse, and with the college promoting Catholic identity in academia, one can expect the “heart” of the country to beat strong in the days ahead.


Bishops take stock of colleges

Patrick Reilly: 21 years later, some Catholic colleges have not embraced Church teaching . . .

Patrick J. Reilly

We usually think of anniversaries as a time for celebration, but they can also remind us of things otherwise forgotten. Last year’s 20th anniversary of the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae, was both.

As the American bishops this fall complete their review of the constitution’s implementation in the United States, they face both widespread disregard for the Vatican’s guidelines and a growing distinction between seriously Catholic colleges and the mainstream.

The bishops’ review — consisting primarily of closed-door meetings with Catholic college presidents and trustees — comes following a decade of increasing awareness and alarm about the secularization of Catholic colleges. Most especially, the University of Notre Dame’s insult to the Church by honoring President Barack Obama in 2009 awakened many to the crisis in Catholic higher education.

That growing awareness is a form of progress, accompanied by very real improvements that have strengthened institutions like Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, Mount St. Mary’s University and others. Once a seedbed of dissent, the Catholic University of America recently set an important standard with its return to single-sex dorms. But for too many professors and college leaders, Ex corde Ecclesiae seems to be largely ignored. Whereas the 1990s were marked by professors’ outspoken rebellion against the document, the outcry has since subsided. Theologians in particular were mollified when the U.S. bishops agreed to keep secret the names of those who have a bishop’s “mandate” to teach theology — sort of a Catholic version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Many Catholic colleges still fail to conform to the Ex corde “general norms” for trustees, faculty and campus policies, which were repeated in the U.S. bishops’ “particular norms” approved in 1999. There are the thorny issues of commencement speakers and authentic theology. But even on the simplest matters — ensuring that at least half a college’s professors and trustees are Catholic, or incorporating Ex corde into a college’s governing documents — many institutions flout the Church’s minimal expectations.

When the National Labor Relations Board this year found no “substantial religious character” at Manhattan College and St. Xavier University, it was the unconstitutional intrusion into religious matters — and not the NLRB’s conclusions — which sparked a public outcry. But the NLRB action increases the pressure on Catholic colleges to be what they claim. After most colleges diluted their Catholic identity since the 1960s, it’s ironic that the federal government is now weary of their perceived hypocrisy.

The result is a loss of respect for the Catholic label and an erosion of religious liberty. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying to force Belmont Abbey College to cover contraceptives in its employee health plan, probably aware that many Catholic colleges already voluntarily provide such coverage. A law professor from secular George Washington University — which allows students of any gender to share a dorm room — is suing the Catholic University to block its move to single-sex residences. If chastity and sobriety are so important to Catholic identity, he asks, why did CUA experiment for 30 years with co-ed dorms?

Attorneys for religious liberty firms like the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) advise colleges that maintaining a consistent Catholic identity is the best way to protect a college’s religious liberty. Where the identity is compromised, asserting First Amendment rights is difficult. So we come full circle. Catholic colleges have a moral imperative to abide by the Church’s standards for Catholic higher education, and their legal right to behave as uniquely Catholic institutions may depend on their ability to prove compliance with Ex corde.

Ultimately, no bishops’ review is going to ensure compliance with Ex corde. It’s the college leaders, not the bishops, who will renew Catholic higher education. And more than one reformer has thrown his hands up in defeat, doubtful that most college leaders have the faith and commitment to undertake serious renewal.

Our secular age urgently requires young, bright leaders who can reason and communicate, whose ethics are sound, and whose vision for the future rests on a foundation of Christianity. Meanwhile, the sort of education that Catholics need is less likely to be found in state universities and other private colleges that increasingly embrace secularist biases and illicit behaviors which can be toxic to the young adult Catholic.

The work of renewal begins with opposing the scandals. It means sometimes painfully withholding support for certain colleges and directing funds to renewal efforts and model institutions or programs, especially those that identify and replicate what the best Catholic colleges already do well.

Although last year’s anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae came and went, the serious work of renewing Catholic identity in U.S. colleges and universities continues more earnestly than ever. For 18 years with The Cardinal Newman Society, I have seen the Holy Spirit at work changing hearts and minds. Renewal of Catholic higher education will succeed because it has to — and because of your prayers and support for the Church.

Patrick J. Reilly is president and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization to help renew and strengthen Catholic higher education.

Ex Corde Ecclesiae’s rough ride

Although many colleges have rejected Ex Corde, faithful colleges are growing . . .

Anne Hendershott

The Feast of the Assumption marked Ex Corde Ecclesiae’s 20th anniversary. Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation for Catholic colleges and universities has had a rough ride over the past two decades. Some colleges have embraced it. Others have not.

Dr. David House, director of the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education (click here for a related story), maintains that much has been accomplished. Others like Notre Dame law professor Gerard Bradley, an advocate for restoring the Catholic identity of colleges using Ex Corde Ecclesiae (ECE), wrote that “the people in charge — the faculty, college administrators, trustees, other intellectual elites and the bishops — do not believe what they need to believe to restore Catholic education to the colleges.”

Once describing ECE as a “sick patient,” Bradley concluded that “the patient is now dead” in a 2002 Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly column. For Bradley, the real crisis on Catholic campuses is a crisis of faith. Bradley says many faculty members and administrators have rejected ECE’s assertion that the “distinguishing task of the Catholic university is to unite existentially by intellectual effort two orders of reality that too frequently tend to be placed in opposition as though they were antithetical: the search for truth and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth.”

Until recently, many of us have reluctantly agreed with Bradley’s conclusions. But there have been some recent signs of faithful life on campus. There are glimmers of hope that we may once again recapture the mission that drove the founders of the earliest Catholic colleges. Much of this hope emerges from what the Wall Street Journal’s Naomi Schaefer Riley calls “the missionary generation” of students. A growing number of faithful students have joined forces with supportive faculty, trustees and administrators who are gaining the courage to view their own Catholic colleges and universities as what John Paul called the “living institutional witness to Christ and His message.”

They’re beginning to see that the activities on their own campuses are connected with the Church’s evangelical mission. They’re recognizing that “research carried out in the light of the Christian message … puts new human discoveries at the service of individuals and society.” And they’re beginning to acknowledge that “education offered in a faith context forms men and women capable of rational and critical judgment and conscious of the transcendent dignity of the human person” (ECE, #49).

This is not to say that those on Catholic campuses are “imposing” their faith on others. “When Christians insist that human laws line up with moral truth, they are not imposing religion,” Princeton professor Robert George wrote in his 2001 book Clash of Orthodoxies. “Instead they are making the entirely reasonable demand that reason be given its due in human affairs.” This joining of faith and reason is especially true for life issues as a growing number of Catholic colleges are finally confronting the pro-choice culture that had been allowed to flourish on too many campuses.

Indeed, it’s in the pro-life arena that the greatest opportunity emerges to reclaim a commitment to authentic Catholic teaching. The Cardinal Newman Society has documented a drop in pro-choice commencement speakers and honorees on Catholic campuses. Student affairs initiatives including pro-life clubs, speakers and activities are beginning to strengthen the pro-life culture. Yet if pro-life advocacy remains on the fringes of campuses, restricted to student affairs, it will remain marginalized.

To create a culture of life on campus, faculty must once again be willing to confront the culture of death in the classroom by making a commitment to teach the truth through education on natural law and authentic Church teachings. If a college is to maintain its Catholic moral identity, teachers must be unambiguous about what clearly agrees with and what clearly conflicts with the faith.

While pro-choice faculty on Catholic campuses continue to publish pro-abortion books with titles like Sacred Choices by Marquette theologian Daniel Maguire or A Brief Catholic Defense of Abortion by two Seattle University philosophy professors, a growing number of bishops are responding. The bishops’ Committee on Doctrine recently declared that Maguire’s works “do not present authentic Catholic teachings.”

Earlier this year, Marquette president Fr. Robert Wild withdrew an offer of employment to a candidate for dean of the College of Arts and Sciences because her published writings denigrated Catholic teachings on marriage and the family. He said his decision “was made in the context of Marquette’s commitment to its mission and identity.”

It’s likely that the specific nature of the job at issue — as dean, the candidate would have been charged with helping implement ECE — may have driven Marquette to step back from that appointment. On all Catholic campuses, the Arts dean helps to hire theologians mandated to teach in communio with the Church.

The news from Marquette is just one small sign that ECE may still be a quiet presence on Catholic campuses. And the emerging success of new faithful colleges like Ave Maria, John Paul the Great and others give us hope that some of our long-standing Catholic colleges and universities can be revitalized.

Anne Hendershott is the John Paul II Fellow in Student Development at the Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education.

Ex Corde Ecclesiae: 20 years later

House reflects on the impact of John Paul II’s charge to Catholic colleges and universities . . .

Dr. David House

Dr. David House

When Pope John Paul II issued Ex Corde Ecclesiae in 1990, Dr. David House made a conscious career move to Catholic higher education. A member of Legatus’ Orange County Chapter, House served as president of St. Joseph’s College of Maine from 1995-2007.

With more than 30 years’ experience in higher education, he is the new executive director of the Cardinal Newman Society’s Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education. He spoke with Legatus Magazine staff writer Sabrina Arena Ferrisi.

Tell me about the Center.

We advise academic and religious leaders in efforts to strengthen the Catholic identity and academic quality of Catholic colleges and universities. We do this by facilitating communication between Church leaders and faculty — and sharing information about the most critical issues. We also do this through our blog Renovo, conferences and The Bulletin of Catholic Higher Education. We share “best practices” in student life, curriculum, extra-curricular activities, campus ministry and leadership.

Right now we’re analyzing environments that foster the “hook-up” culture on Catholic campuses. We’re also conducting an analysis of the data available on Catholic higher education — including core curricula. Finally, we’re reviewing the impact of Ex Corde Ecclesiae in this 20th anniversary year.

How is the landscape changing in Catholic colleges?

Things aren’t as good as they should be, but they’re a lot better than they were 20 years ago. Positive change is developing slowly like a glacier moving across the landscape. In the past 20 years we’ve seen the creation of new colleges and universities and the revitalization of some on the brink of closing. Faithful schools have thrived overall. There is more receptivity among educators to approaching Catholic identity than two decades ago, and we are seeing the fruits of a 26-year papacy regarded as a major strengthening of the Church — followed by Pope Benedict, one of the great intellects of our time.

What about leadership at these colleges?

We have a changing of the guard. There is a new generation of leaders as the baby-boom generation retires. The new generation’s faith is shaped by John Paul II and Benedict. Just think: Archbishop José Gómez, coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles, was in his mid-20s when John Paul became Pope. Father James Shea, president of the University of Mary, hadn’t even started kindergarten yet. The outgoing generation of academic leaders who fought Ex Corde Ecclesiae has not really produced an ideological second generation. This is going to make an enormous difference.

Are things better or worse regarding fidelity to Ex Corde?

Both. There is much to be optimistic about, but I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture.We are all aware of the lack of faithfulness at many Catholic colleges, and student activities at odds with Church teaching. However, these activities are often exaggerated in the media — getting more attention than they deserve.

I think that academic and Church leaders need to work closely to help create what sociologists call “moral communities” on our Catholic campuses or else the situation will get worse. There is actually a great deal of good will among many leaders of Catholic colleges and universities, but we need to find ways to help them confront those who would turn these schools away from the faith. This is no time to be intimidated by angry, unfaithful faculty or students, but rather to support faithful Catholics who care deeply about their college or university.

What are the most pressing issues?

First, for Church and academic leaders to develop strong relationships based on fidelity to Church teaching and a commitment to furthering Catholic higher education. Second, to use Ex Corde Ecclesiae’s 20th anniversary as a springboard. Third, to help people become well-formed in the faith. Fourth, for leaders to stand up in public and challenge those attacking the Church, individuals, and institutions faithful to Church teaching.

What about emerging issues?

We’re facing growing threats from government intrusion. Belmont Abbey College was told by the feds that it was guilty of discrimination by refusing to cover contraception in employee health plans. This is a brazen violation of religious liberty, and not likely to be the last such case. The government is slowly marginalizing faith-based institutions and requiring them to behave like secular, public institutions.

Any exciting developments?

One of the most exciting developments today is the role of students in the resurgence of faithful Catholicism. Through alternative student newspapers, student organizations, and faithful student activists, there is emerging a student-based vitality, the likes of which we haven’t seen in higher education for more than 40 years. I think we’ll see this develop even more over the next several years. It’s already making some academic leaders nervous, and faithful student organizations are increasingly difficult to ignore as they grow and begin to recognize their power. The alternative commencement ceremony at Notre Dame last year is evidence of this emerging student power. Young people in any society represent the future, so we should all be very encouraged by this.

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.


From the heart of the Church

Ex Corde Ecclesiae (ECE) is an apostolic constitution issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990. It literally means “From the heart of the Church,” recognizing that the first major European universities were established by the Catholic Church. ECE defines a Catholic university or college under Canon Law. It’s considered a rebuttal to the “Land O’ Lakes Statement” issued by a group of Catholic educators in 1967, which basically declared that Catholic universities were independent from the hierarchy.

“Because of the American situation — in which most Catholic colleges and universities have been legally independent of the bishops since the 1970s and many have been centers of dissent from Catholic teaching — it was necessary for the Vatican to clarify whether such institutions are truly Catholic,” said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society.

ECE clarified that an institution could be considered Catholic by its institutional commitment to the Catholic faith in fidelity to the Magisterium. This fidelity must be evident in all policies, programs and commitments.

Many Catholic colleges and universities, however, have simply ignored the document’s teaching.

“At its root, the hesitancy to embrace Ex Corde Ecclesiae is a hesitancy to accept the teaching authority of the bishops in matters of faith and morals — and a rejection of the Catholic faith as truth,” said Reilly.

“The on-going issue is over autonomy,” said Monsignor Stuart Swetland of Mount St. Mary’s University and advisor to the Cardinal Newman Society. “Some believe that universities must have a ‘total’ or ‘complete’ autonomy from all ecclesial relationships to be truly free and adhere to the rigors of academic freedom. The solution to this tension is best grasped by the proper understanding of ecclesial communion where each person and institution has a specific role or vocation inside the communion of the Church.”

—Sabrina Arena Ferrisi