In his Apostolic Constitution, Ex Corde Ecclesiae or From the Heart of the Church, Pope John Paul II has explained, “A Catholic university is completely dedicated to the research of all aspects of truth in their essential connection with the supreme Truth, who is God. It does this without fear but rather with enthusiasm, dedicating itself to every path of knowledge, aware of being preceded by Him, the one who is ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life.’”
This document is said to be the magna charta for Catholic Universities today. UST looks to Ex corde for guidelines, direction, and inspiration as we continue on our journey of providing excellence in high education and as we aspire to become a great Catholic University. Ex corde will provide us with the standard to flourish in our Catholic identity and mission.
An electronic version of this document may be accessed at:
List of Key Passages From "Ex Corde Ecclesiae"
I. ROLE OF THE DOCUMENT
A. Relevance to UST
1. Wish of the Vatican to have all Catholic universities and colleges incorporate the ideas of this constitution. - "it is meant to include all Catholic institutions of higher education." §10
3. The document urges all Catholic universities and colleges to "make their own the general norms and "internalize them into their governing documents." Art. I §3
B. Manner of incorporation
1. The task for implementing this task and the responsibility for maintaining and strengthening Catholic identity is "entrusted principally to university authorities (chancellor and board)." Article 4. §1; but all administrators and faculty are called upon to do what they can to promote the identity. The identity is "essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect for Catholic doctrine."
2. Catholic nature is not just of individual inspiration but also of the community. §13
. A Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such;
. A continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research;
. Fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church;
. An institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life.
II. POSITIVE MISSION
A. Inspiration of educational enterprise
1. The Catholic university is distinguished by its search for the whole truth about nature, man and God; essential connection with the supreme Truth, who is God; defense of human person. §4
B. In a Catholic University research necessarily includes:
i. integration of knowledge
ii. dialogue between faith and reason
iii. ethical concern
iv. theological perspective See §§ 15-20.
C. Some key points for faculty
1. University teachers should seek to improve their competence and endeavor to set the content, objectives, methods and results of research in an individual discipline within the framework of a coherent world vision. Christians among the teachers are called to be witnesses and educators of authentic Christian life, which evidences an attained integration between faith and life, and between professional competence and Christian wisdom. All teachers are to be inspired by academic ideals and by the principles of an authentically human life. §22
2. If need be, a Catholic university must have the courage to speak uncomfortable truths which do not please public opinion, but which are necessary to safeguard the authentic good of society. §32
III. ACADEMIC AFFAIRS
A. Universal applications
1. “In a Catholic university, therefore, Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles penetrate and inform university activities in accordance with the proper nature and autonomy of these activities. In a word, being both a university and Catholic, it must be both a community of scholars representing various branches of human knowledge, and an academic institution in which Catholicism is vitally present and operative.” §14
2. Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities, while the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully respected. Any official action or commitment of the university is to be in accord with its Catholic identity. Art 2. §4
B. On theology
1. Given the close connection between research and teaching, the research qualities indicated above will have their influence on all teaching. While each discipline is taught systematically and according to its own methods, interdisciplinary studies, assisted by a careful and thorough study of philosophy and theology, enable students to acquire an organic vision of reality and to develop a continuing desire for intellectual progress. In the communication of knowledge, emphasis is then placed on how human reason in its reflection opens to increasingly broader questions and how the complete answer to them can only come from above through faith. Furthermore, the moral implications that are present in each discipline are examined as an integral part of the teaching of that discipline so that the entire educative process be directed toward the whole development of the person. Finally, Catholic theology, taught in a manner faithful to Scripture, Tradition and the Church's Magisterium, provides an awareness of the Gospel principles which will enrich the meaning of human life and give it a new dignity. Through research and teaching the students are educated in the various disciplines so as to become truly competent in the specific sectors in which they will devote themselves to the service of society and of the Church, but at the same time prepared to give the witness of their faith to the world. §20
C. On college action
1. Any official action or commitment must be in accord with catholic nature. art 2 §4
2. Majority of the faculty should be Catholic. Art 4, §4
D. Duty of faculty
All teachers and all administrators, at the time of their appointment, are to be informed about the Catholic identity of the institution and its implications, and about their responsibility to promote, or at least to respect, that identity. Art 4 §2
In ways appropriate to the different academic disciplines, all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching. Art 4 §3