Card. Burke: Catholic colleges should require the required “mandate” for profs to teach

From the Cardinal Newman Society:

Cardinal Burke Says Theologians’ Mandatum Should Be Required by Colleges, Disclosed to Students

Theologians, Canonists Respond to Pope Benedict’s Call for Compliance

Manassas, Va. – Catholic families have a right to know which theology professors have the mandatum, and Catholic colleges and universities should require it as a condition for employment, [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] affirmed the Vatican’s chief judge Cardinal Raymond Burke in a new report prompted by recent concerns from Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Burke and several bishops, canon law experts, and theologians discussed the mandatum with The Cardinal Newman Society in an online report published today at

The report, titled “A Mandate for Fidelity,” follows upon a May 5th address by Pope Benedict to several American bishops during their ad limina visit to Rome. The Pope expressed concern that “much remains to be done” toward the renewal of Catholic identity in U.S. Catholic colleges and universities, “especially in such areas as compliance with the mandate laid down in Canon 812 for those who teach theological disciplines.[Can we have some compliance with can. 915?]

He cited “the confusion created by instances of apparent dissidence between some representatives of Catholic institutions and the Church’s pastoral leadership.”

Canon 812 of the Catholic Church’s canon law states, “Those who teach theological disciplines in any institutes of higher studies whatsoever must have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority.”

As implemented by the U.S. bishops, a theology professor requests a “mandate” (commonly identified by the Latin mandatum) from the bishop presiding over the diocese where the theologian is employed. The professor commits, in writing, “to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church’s Magisterium,” according to U.S. guidelines.

But in the United States, many Catholic colleges and universities have not required theology professors to have the mandatum, or even to disclose to students and their families which professors have the bishop’s recognition. The 1990s saw vigorous opposition to the mandatum by some theologians and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, but the controversy has since cooled down, largely because in practice the mandatum has not had much relevance to students and college leaders.


Be sure to read the rest there.

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  1. Bryan Boyle says:

    So, I’m thinking that most, if not all houses of education, higher or otherwise, who are under the thumb of the formerly Catholic society called ‘The Society of Jesus’ will be complying…or dropping the pretenses that they are actually aligned with the mind of our Church and admitting, by their actions, that they left the reservation years ago?


  2. I do know one Catholic school that already abides by this. At Christendom College, in Front Royal, VA, all professors (not just theology and philosophy) have the mandatum.
    Bishop Burke says: “The professor commits, in writing, “to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church’s Magisterium,” according to U.S. guidelines.”

    At the beginning of each school year at Christendom, the campus gathers at a Sunday Mass celebrated by the Bishop of Arlington. All the students are witness while all the teachers take aloud the Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium, and recite the Credo. It is a beautiful ceremony, and a reassuring one.

    It even says this on the website under About – Catholic Identity.
    “All professors are Catholic and ALL of them make an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium and a Profession of Faith each year in the presence of the Diocese of Arlington’s Bishop Paul Loverde.”

  3. Dr. K says:

    Is Card. Burke stepping down as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura?

    An NcR has the following line: “…Cardinal Raymond Burke, outgoing prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura”

  4. Bryan Boyle says:

    Or wishful thinking on NcR’s part. You were correct the first time. Small c.

  5. AnnAsher says:

    NCR publishes an annual insert on Catholic Colleges which includes their status on the mandatum, co-Ed dorms, etc

  6. Kathleen10 says:

    I have never heard of “mandatum” before. Here I am, one of the laity, faithful Catholic, in love with the Catholic church, and I have never heard that term before. If I have never heard it, I bet lots of folks never heard it, and can’t know to check for it. I….love….mandatums, or is it mandatum. Whatever it is, I love it. Now, the word needs to get out that mandatum is the thing to look for, before sending your child off to a university that looks more like Animal House than it does an authentic Catholic environment. Every bishop might want to include some information on mandatum in a letter occasionally, to educate parents as to the fact. Maybe articles discussing mandatum could be written. It could be added to homilies. People need to talk about it. It is very hard to find out if a university offers a truly Catholic experience if one isn’t an expert in Catholic education, and not everyone is. I know if I were sending a child off to university, knowing a mandatum exists, I would insist on it. Let’s spread the word!
    Hold on, NCR, is that the Fishwrap? My worlds are colliding. I don’t understand. NCR publishes an annual insert and lists mandatum, to educate parents on authentic Catholic colleges? What am I missing.

  7. Bryan Boyle says:


    National catholic Reporter (aka The Fishwrap) is to orthodoxy, faithfulness, and Catholicism what Elizabeth Taylor is to marital fidelity.

    National Catholic Register is the polar opposite, and publishes the list of faithful colleges.

    The story above was from the Fishwrap. On wonders, if the two papers were placed side by side on a table if the matter/anti-matter reaction would cause life as we know it to cease…or the stench of brimstone issuing from the NcR prevent any mortal being from being in that close proximity so the Register could never be brought close enough for the reaction to occur?

    Plural, by the by, of ‘mandatum’ is ‘mandata’

  8. Tantum Ergo says:

    Perhaps Cardinal Burke would volunteer to donate some spinal stem cells. There are many who could greatly benefit from such an injection.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    If the USCCB had imposed this when it first came out, we would have seen the boys separated from the men. I have taught at places which require this-and similar documents for high school and elementary may be found at this site. There is not excuse for ignorance. About time and God bless Cardinal Burke. Scroll down on this page-left side, for the documents for secondary and elementary teachers and do not send you child to a school which does not ask these of every teacher.

  10. Giuseppe says:

    I graduated from a Jesuit university. We were required to take 2 Theology courses, 2 Philosophy courses, and 2 more of either. The Theology courses were Introduction to the Bible and Introduction to Catholic Moral Teaching. For the class on moral theology, students quickly learned to hide any disagreements with Catholic moral teaching (sexual mores, birth control, homosexuality) to get an A. This was particularly true of the non-Catholics in the class — in class they’d say “this doesn’t make sense to me”, but on the exam, they were perfectly able to recount Catholic teaching, even though they didn’t believe it. Punches were not pulled, and I do think that students got a good exposure to Catholic moral teaching.

    The philosophy courses, however, could have been taught at any college anywhere. There was nothing specifically Roman Catholic about them. There were advanced elective courses in Augustine and Aquinas, but the main focus of most courses was Plato, Aristotle, fast forward to Descartes, Hobbes, Kant, and Nietzsche. I assume there is no mandatum for philosophy professors, only theology teachers.

  11. AnAmericanMother says:

    The little college attached to our parish advertises in the diocesan newspaper that every professor has the mandatum. I know the professor in charge of the Theology department, and he is absolutely straight-up orthodox and brilliant to boot.

  12. Imrahil says:


    It must not only be made known who has one. Those who haven’t one (excepting, for the extraordinary situation now, those who without culpable delay request one and can get it) must be thrown out.

    But perhaps it is like this that in the United States the mandatum if they do have it seems (according to the comments) make sure a professor’s orthodoxy. Do not expect this will remain so once all are required to have one.

  13. Giuseppe says:

    Does the mandatum only apply to the department of Theology? How about Philosophy? Other fields? Biology? Psychology? Sociology? etc.

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