Vol. 28 No. 1  Spring 2001

Ex Corde Ecclesiae and American Catholic Higher Education: Dead on Arrival?

Charles J. Russo and David L. Gregory


On August 15, 1990, Pope John Paul II, exercising his Magisterial authority in the Roman Catholic Church, promulgated the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae to revitalize teaching in Catholic colleges and universities. Over several years, controversy relating to the possible implementation of Ex Corde in the United States accelerated. The major sticking point in the conflict is over the requirement that professors of theological disciplines obtain a mandatum, fundamentally an acknowledgment by a local bishop, that a Catholic professor is in full communion with the Catholic Church. In the meantime, critics, both inside and outside of the Catholic Church, have raised questions about the potential impact of Ex Corde on American Catholic universities.

Ex Corde’s potential impact is significant, especially for faculty members at Catholic universities, by far the largest segment of religiously affiliated instititions of higher learning in the United States. This article is divided into four sections. The first part highlights Ex Corde’s salient features. The next section examines the current status of the non-implementation of Ex Corde. The third part of the article reviews critiques of Ex Corde, noting the opposition by university leaders and the reluctance to act on the part of the Bishops.8 The final section reflects on the status of Ex Corde and why a fully implemented Ex Corde should play a key role in revivification of religious identity in American Catholic universities.

[Spring 2001 Issue Contents]