WASHINGTON (July 1, 1997) -- "Worthwhile" and "mutually helpful" described the June 26, 1997 meeting in Rome between the Congregation for Catholic Education and the committee of U.S. Bishops implementing Ex corde Ecclesiae, according to Cardinal Pio Laghi, prefect of the Congregation, and Bishop John J. Leibrecht of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, chair of the Implementation Committee.
Ex corde Ecclesiae is the apostolic constitution of Pope John Paul II on Catholic colleges and universities.
Cardinal James A. Hickey of Washington, Cardinal Adam J. Maida of Detroit, Archbishop Francis B. Schulte of New Orleans, and Bishop Leibrecht comprised the bishops' delegation from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB).
While many praiseworthy features were cited in the first draft of the implementation plan for Ex corde Ecclesiae in the United States, discussions focused on juridic content addressing the Catholic character of colleges and universities. The bishops from the U.S. indicated that many of the observations received recently from the Congregation will help perfect a second draft. The bishops thought that some observations required further study and reflection. The greatest amount of time at the meeting was devoted to Canon 812, pertaining to the mandate for theology professors.
Attention was given to how Catholic colleges and universities carry out their programs for students, to the expectations of parents, and to how the institutions offer high levels of scholarship and ensure authentically Catholic teaching.
Bishop Anthony M. Pilla of Cleveland, president of NCCB/U.S. Catholic Conference (USCC), has appointed a special subcommittee of canonical experts, headed by Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, to review the observations of a juridic nature from the Congregation. The other members are Cardinal Maida, Bishop Thomas G. Doran of Rockford, Bishop Raymond L. Burke of La Crosse, and Monsignor John A. Alesandro of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.. The subcommittee hopes to report to the full NCCB Implementation Committee by early Fall of 1997.
The Congregation for Catholic Education and the U.S. bishops agreed that the next draft should be developed as soon as possible, perhaps for review at the November general meeting of the NCCB/USCC.
At the meeting in Rome, the U.S. bishops were assisted by the USCC Secretary for Education, Msgr. Thomas J. McDade, and the Reverend Terrence Toland, S.J., special assistant for the Ex corde Ecclesiae Implementation Committee.
"Discussions at the meeting, not always leading to particular conclusions, helped set directions for the next phase of work," Bishop Leibrecht stated.