Magazine article Academe

Academics Vow to Resist Ex Corde Norms

Magazine article Academe

Academics Vow to Resist Ex Corde Norms

Article excerpt

IN STATEMENTS FILLED WITH ALLUsions to past struggles over academic freedom, religion professors at two Catholic campuses in Massachusetts announced plans to defy a key provision of the implementation norms for Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The policy, approved by the nation's Catholic bishops last November, aims at strengthening the church's ties with affiliated universities. Its approval also prompted a professor in California to resign her tenured position at a Catholic institution, citing a chilled political climate.

The professors' criticisms center on the policy's insistence that theology professors at Catholic campuses obtain a "mandate" for their teaching position from their local bishop. "I have no fear about getting a mandate if I were to present myself, but I see it as a form of ecclesiastical McCarthyism," Peter Beisheim, a professor of religious studies at Stonehill College, told the Boston Globe in February. "I don't need to take a loyalty oath," he added.

Donald Dietrich, chair of the theology department at Boston College, also bristled at seeking a bishop's blessing for his appointment. "My own personal plan would not be to seek a mandate," Dietrich says. "My thinking is that a university is a university, an autonomous entity that should be supportive of free thought in the American tradition. You can't have free thought if there's a mandate and some kind of control."

Boston College president William Leahy made clear his intention not to enforce the mandate provision on that campus. …

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