Category Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

College of Saint Mary Magdalen President George Harne Pledges Fidelity to Pope Benedict XVI

The College of St. Mary Magdalen President Dr. George Harne.

On February 2, 2013 Dr. George Harne, president at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen, pledged his fidelity to Pope Benedict XVI.   The signing of this pledge took place during the third annual Ex Corde Presidents’ Roundtable and Forum hosted by Christendom College.

The event was an opportunity for presidents at faithfully Catholic colleges to come together, pray, receive spiritual nourishment, meet fellow presidents, share ideas, and renew fidelity to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church.

His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze was the special guest of the Roundtable.   Cardinal Arinze offered Mass and led a reflection on the Presidents’ spiritual role in maintaining Catholic identity in education.

“This event provided the occasion for college presidents to examine the challenges and opportunities facing Catholic institutions of higher education, and contemplate how to best overcome the challenges and utilize the opportunities,” said Dr. Harne of the Roundtable discussions.

The Ex Corde Presidents’ Roundtable was concluded with the presidents signing of the Pledge of Loyalty to uphold the teachings of the Magisterium.   Cardinal Arinze will personally present the Pledge of Fidelity to Pope Benedict XVI.

Gay Activists Celebrate Nondiscrimination Policy at Our Lady of the Lake University

The New Civil Rights Movement, a homosexual activist blog, is celebrating reports that Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU), a Catholic university in San Antonio, Texas, has become the first Catholic school in Texas to revise its student handbook to protect students, faculty and staff of the university from discrimination based upon “sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”

“By embracing this full vision of equality, we can realize the best nature of who we are and what we stand for at OLLU,” said Leda Barnett, assistant professor of political science.

Work to change the handbook began in 2005 with Cynthia Squiabro-Kee, then a graduate student at the University, and her efforts to establish a Gay/Straight Alliance. That group was formed by 2007. In early 2012, The Alliance posted a petition on the website seeking community support for their efforts to revise the university handbook with fully inclusive policies.

A resolution was submitted to the Student Voice Assembly for approval, seeking to “include the statement of ‘sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression’ to all relevant policies within the student handbook.”

After meeting with representatives of The Alliance, Equality Texas, the Rainbow Coalition and GetEQUAL TX, Jack Hank, OLLU’s vice president for Student Life, worked on revisions to the policy with the university’s attorney. On January 16, 2013, Hank announced approval of the policy change by the OLLU Student Life Council.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Christmas address to the Roman Curia in December, warned against the dangers of celebrating “gender” outside of male and female.

“…the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper,” said the Holy Father.

While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question…. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.


Christendom College to Host Ex corde Ecclesiae Presidents Roundtable

On February 1-2, Christendom College will welcome Catholic college and university presidents to its Front Royal, Va., campus as it hosts the Ex corde Ecclesiae Presidents’ Roundtable. The Roundtable will examine the challenges and opportunities facing Catholic institutions of higher education, and will give the presidents an opportunity to discuss some very important issues.

“I believe that all the presidents involved will benefit by meeting to meditate on how we can cooperate with each other to be of service to Christ, His Church, and our nation through our educational apostolates,” Christendom College president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell said.

The Presidents Roundtable, which was initiated by O’Donnell, is a private association of presidents of Catholic universities, colleges, and institutes, who have embraced the vision of Catholic higher education as presented in the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae of Blessed John Paul II and developed by Pope Benedict XVI, particularly in his historic address at the Catholic University of America on April 17, 2008.

During their meetings, the presidents will informally discuss areas of mutual interest and concern related to the strengthening of Catholic identity and will take advantage of the opportunity for spiritual rejuvenation in the company of fellow presidents. As a special guest, His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments — who has fully supported the initiative — will personally lead the Roundtable’s spiritual reflections.  The discussions will cover topics ranging from student life to presidential leadership within the university. All discussions will be in service to the individual mission and unique charism of each institution.

Francis Cardinal Arinze will lead the spiritual reflections during the Ex corde Ecclesiae Presidents Roundtable at Christendom College.

Francis Cardinal Arinze will lead the spiritual reflections during the Ex corde Ecclesiae Presidents Roundtable at Christendom College.

“As a liberal arts college, Christendom has given dynamic leadership to its students on how to discover the true, the good and the beautiful, and how to pursue these goods which are so deserving in themselves,” said Cardinal Arinze. “The students are taught not to be afraid of the truth, of reality. Christendom College is above all a Catholic educational institution. It importantly expresses its Catholic identity through an explicit profession of the Catholic Faith, and through studies given unity and a sense of direction by sound philosophy and authentic Catholic theology. It is joy for me to be associated with whatever has to do with the good of Christendom College.”

The participating presidents will also sign a pledge to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church concerning Catholic higher education. Cardinal Arinze will then personally present this to Pope Benedict XVI. Nearly 20 presidents are expected to attend the Roundtable discussions and/or sign the pledge.

For more information about the Ex Corde Ecclesiae Presidents Roundtable contact Olivia Ruhl, at or 540.636.2900.

NCReporter Floats Two Profs as Possible Vatican Ambassadors

The Obama administration, entering into its second term, is reportedly searching for a new Vatican Ambassador since former ambassador Miguel Diaz resigned to take  a position as professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton.

The heterodox National Catholic Reporter is suggesting two names for speculation from Catholic colleges. Both were members of “Catholics for Obama:”

Stephen Schneck of The Catholic University of America and Nicholas Cafardi of Duquesne University. Both would be acceptable to the White House, but might trip some wires on the Catholic side — if not with the Vatican, which typically vetoes an appointment only if there are concerns about personal morality (especially marital status), then with the U.S. bishops.

Schneck is on the board of directors of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good that attempted to generate Catholic support for President Obama’s policies. Schneck also joined with other politically liberal Catholics in an open letter “celebrating” the “accommodation” proposed by President Obama with regard to the HHS contraceptive mandate. He insulted Archbishop William Lori and criticized the Knights of Columbus for their aggressive defense of religious freedom, defended Georgetown University’s selection of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for graduation speaker, accused Republican presidential candidates of promoting “racial division,” and publicly challenged House Speaker John Boehner when he spoke at CUA after defending the University of Notre Dame’s honors to President Barack Obama.

Cafardi, dean emeritus and professor of law at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Pa., accused some bishops of vexing and oppressing people, electioneering and lobbying, and attempting to take away people’s constitutional rights. Cafardi suggested that as a penalty the IRS could remove the Church’s tax exempt status or simply fine those bishops their per diem salaries every day they open their mouths against the HHS mandate or gay “marriage.”

Cardinal Newman Society Board Member at Vatican

The Cardinal Newman Society board member Kathryn Lopez was at the Vatican and had an opportunity to meet the Pope this week as part of the International Congress on Ecclesia in America. She wrote of her visit at The Corner:

I’m currently in Rome as one of 250 participants in an International Congress on Ecclesia in America, a product of John Paul II’s imploring the Americas to reevangelize in the love of Christ, with Mary as a motherly model, to build a civilization of love to counter and heal the prevailing culture of violence and death. (One way to characterize this gathering might be that we’re asking: What’s been going on these last 15 years, already?!)

Religious freedom comes up in nearly every talk so far, as it happens, too.

Getting back to the questions: “What is going on? Where are you going? Where are you headed?” That’s some version of just about the most frequently asked question I get: “What happened with the Catholics? I thought you were all going to defend religious liberty? What are the Catholics doing about it?” The answer, I believe, is in no small part what is happening here.

Yesterday we met with Pope Benedict for what might have been more an admonishment than a pep talk: He basically said (I paraphrase):

If you people, who are representing your part of the world as Catholic leaders, are not living truly Catholic lives — receiving the Sacraments in openness and love to God’s will, living the Word, knowing the Word — you are part of the problem.

This is consistent with a theme at the U.S. Catholic bishops conference in Baltimore in November. Quoting G. K. Chesterton asking “What’s Wrong with the World?,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan repeated his answer: “I am.” For Catholics, it is the theme of the hour. Or ought to be.

The pope got into it Sunday night at the altar of the chair of St. Peter:

The Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth. This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent.

He went on:

Dear friends, the love of Christ impels us to devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming his Name throughout America, bringing it freely and enthusiastically to the hearts of all its inhabitants. There is no more rewarding or beneficial work than this. There is no greater service that we can provide to our brothers and sisters. They are thirsting for God. For this reason, we ought to take up this commitment with conviction and joyful dedication, encouraging priests, deacons, consecrated men and women and pastoral agents to purify and strengthen their interior lives ever more fully through a sincere relationship with the Lord and a worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments. This will be encouraged by suitable catechesis and a correct and ongoing doctrinal formation marked by complete fidelity to the word of God and the Church’s magisterium and aimed at offering a response to the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart. The witness of your faith will thus be more eloquent and incisive, and you will grow in unity in the fulfillment of your apostolate. A renewed missionary spirit and zealous generosity in your commitment will be an irreplaceable contribution to what the universal Church expects and needs from the Church in America.

You don’t have to be Catholic to agree with the man that it is a good idea to be who you claim to be! And that the world might benefit.

Anyway, you ask me what the problem is and what we’re doing about it: bad catechesis, bad witness. And the Church’s response is: a year dedicated to rededicating resources to teaching what it is the Church teaches and why (Year of Faith), and reawakening an awareness of the call of baptism, as Anderson put it this morning. The Church isn’t just its bishops and clergy. And Christ isn’t who each decides he is — we are made in his image and likeness, not the other way around — but what the Gospel does.

Pope Benedict XVI Speaks on Importance of Values in Education

In an address to diplomats, the Pope this morning focused on the theme of education, saying that much of what ails society today can be traced back to a lack of values in our educational institutions, according to The Vatican News Service.

In this regard, he also mentioned that social networks “tend to substitute natural social and communicative spaces, often becoming the only point of reference for information and knowledge. The family and schools no longer appear to be the primary or most natural fertile ground where younger generations receive the lifeblood of their existence. … Schools and universities seem to have become incapable of creative projects leading to a transcendental teleology able to attract young people in the very depths of their being. … Today’s world and its responsible adults are not able to provide them with the necessary points of reference.”

The Holy Father asked whether the dysfunction of certain institutions and services, both public and private, can be explained “by an inadequately provided and received education”, and went on to invite the governments of the nations represented by the ambassadors “to contribute courageously to the advancement of humanity, favouring the education of the new generations through the promotion of a healthy anthropology, the essential basis for all true education, and consonant with our common natural heritage. This task must take as its starting point a sober review of the various problems that exist within your respective countries, where certain political and economic policies may risk a gradual erosion of your anthropological and spiritual heritages, which have been refined through the centuries and patiently constructed on foundations that respect the essence of the human person in all its variety and in perfect harmony with the cosmos”. The Pope continued, “I again urge your governments to have the courage to strengthen and consolidate the moral authority – the call to a coherent way of life – necessary for a genuine and healthy education for the younger generations.”

“The right to an education in correct values can be neither denied nor neglected. The duty to educate in these values must never be limited or weakened by any form of national or supranational political interest. Therefore it is essential to educate in and about the truth: … the truth about mankind, about creation, about institutions, and so on. Alongside education in the righteousness of the heart and mind, the young also need, now more than ever, to be educated in the meaning of effort and perseverance in the face of difficulty. They need to recognise that all human action must be responsible and coherent with the desire for the infinite, and that this action should form a part of their growth, with a view to developing a humanity that is increasingly fraternal and free from the temptations of individualism and materialism.”

You can read the Pope’s comments in their entirety by clicking here.

Pope Clarifies The Oft-Cited “Sensus Fidei”

One need not look very far in Catholic circles nowadays to find some mention of “sensus fidelium” which literally means “sense of faith.” But its literal meaning has almost become besides-the-point in modern usage. Recently, the term has been misused to argue for same-sex “marriage,” contraception and even women’s ordination. It’s a form of Magisterium by Gallup in which a person argues that most Catholics agree with them on an issue, so even though the Magisterium says otherwise, they hold the trump card because of “sensus fidei.”

A recent example is The National Catholic Reporter’s endorsing of women’s ordination. They wrote:

Our message is that we believe the sensus fidelium is that the exclusion of women from the priesthood has no strong basis in Scripture or any other compelling rationale; therefore, women should be ordained. We have heard the faithful assent to this in countless conversations in parish halls, lecture halls and family gatherings. It has been studied and prayed over individually and in groups. The brave witness of the Women’s Ordination Conference, as one example, gives us assurance that the faithful have come to this conclusion after prayerful consideration and study — yes, even study of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

But Pope Benedict XVI, in a recent speech to the International Theological Commission, clarified what “sensus fidelium” means and what it does not mean. The Pope said pointedly, “It is unthinkable to mention it (sensus fidei) in order to challenge the teachings of the Magisterium.

According to Vatican News, Pope Benedict XVI said:

Among the criteria of Catholic theology, the document mentions the attention that theologians must pay to sensus fidelium. It is very useful that your Commission has also focused on this issue which is of particular importance for the reflection on the faith and life of the Church. The Second Vatican Council, while confirming the specific and irreplaceable role of Magisterium, stressed, however, that the whole People of God participates in Christ’s prophetic office, thus fulfilling the inspired desire expressed by Moses, ” If only all the people of the LORD were prophets! If only the LORD would bestow his spirit on them! “(Num 11:29).

The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium thus teaches us on the subject: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. “(n. 12).

This gift, the sensus fidei, constitutes in the believer a kind of supernatural instinct that has a connatural life with the same object of faith. It is a criterion for discerning whether or not a truth belongs to the deposit of the living apostolic tradition. It also has a propositional value because the Holy Spirit does not cease to speak to the Churches and lead them to the whole truth. Today, however, it is particularly important to clarify the criteria used to distinguish the authentic sensus fidelium from its counterfeits. In fact, it is not some kind of public opinion of the Church, and it is unthinkable to mention it in order to challenge the teachings of the Magisterium, this because the sensus fidei can not grow authentically in the believer except to the extent in which he or she fully participates in the life of the Church, and this requires a responsible adherence to her Magisterium.

You can read Pope Benedict XVI’s words in their entirety by clicking here.

Georgetown Lecturer Scolded Pope Benedict in Open Letter

Former World Bank official Robert Calderisi is an openly gay Catholic who, in an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI, endorsed the ordination of women, promoted gay “marriage,” and objected to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. In that letter, he even called the Church’s refusal to ordain women “un-Christian.” Yet Georgetown University, a Jesuit university, is hosting him next week to speak on the topic of The Catholic Church and World Development Since 1945.

Calderisi will address the impact of the Catholic Church on economic and social progress in Africa, Asia and Latin America at Georgetown on Tuesday December 4th. His appearance is sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, the Georgetown Jesuit Community, and the SFS Program on Global Human Development.

Calderisi has written a book on African aid, but on his website he published a non-dated “Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI from a Gay Catholic” which details at length his opposition to the Church on many important issues:

On Pope John Paul II:

Like many Europeans and North Americans, I was disappointed by his strong views… on contraception, divorce, priestly celibacy, the role of women in the church, and homosexuality.

On being a cafeteria Catholic, he wrote:

Another friend — formerly a Catholic, now an agnostic — asked: “How can you continue to be part of an organization when you respect only some of its rules? Even country clubs expect all their members to meet the same standards.” I replied that, for me, the most important rules were the ones that Christ set, and He said absolutely nothing about the major social issues of our time, except divorce.

On homosexuality, he wrote:

I do not regard homosexuality as an appropriate subject for Church teaching, let alone approval or disapproval, any more than I would expect the Vatican to comment on the rising and falling of the tides.

On gay “marriage,” Calderisi wrote:

Gay marriage is nothing more than two people wanting to commit to living together publicly…There is nothing disrespectful or subversive of traditional marriage in this — except in the minds of those with a taste for conspiracy or hidden agendas.

On the issue of abortion, Calderisi comes down firmly in the personally pro-life category while remaining pro-abortion rights:

As for abortion, I believe that people should be free to make their own decisions in this intimate area.

Calderisi wrote his prescription for the Church:

My focus will be on four topics that seem to me crucial for the whole Church:  promoting Christian unity, admitting married men to the priesthood, removing all remaining discrimination against women (including admitting them to holy orders), and abolishing the stigma which currently hangs over divorced men and women.

Concerning the Church’s refusal to ordain women, Calderisi compares the Church to golf clubs that refused to serve Jews or blacks and called the Church “un-Christian.”

Perhaps an old-fashioned clubbishness — the same archaic instincts that kept golf courses and other private establishments closed to Jews, blacks and women for the longest time — has played a part…

The exclusion of women from holy orders is so irrational and arbitrary that it is difficult to know where to start in refuting traditional arguments…

Not only is the prohibition difficult to defend; it seems thoroughly un-Christian.

Calderisi’s new book entitled Healing the Nations: The Catholic Church and World Development will be published by Yale University Press in September 2013.

Pope Calls Young to “Go and make disciples of all nations!”

Pope Benedict XVI’s message to young people in preparation for World Youth Day 2013, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, included special recognition of those in the education field. He implored them to keep Christ at the center of all they do and “Go and make disciples of all nations!”

He wrote:

Dear young people, if you are to remain firm in professing the Christian faith wherever you are sent, you need the Church. No one can bear witness to the Gospel alone. Jesus sent forth his disciples on mission together. He spoke to them in the plural when he said: “Make disciples”. Our witness is always given as members of the Christian community, and our mission is made fruitful by the communion lived in the Church. It is by our unity and love for one another that others will recognize us as Christ’s disciples (cf. Jn 13:35). I thank God for the wonderful work of evangelization being carried out by our Christian communities, our parishes and our ecclesial movements. The fruits of this evangelization belong to the whole Church. As Jesus said: “One sows and another reaps” (Jn 4:37).

Here I cannot fail to express my gratitude for the great gift of missionaries, who devote themselves completely to proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I also thank the Lord for priests and consecrated persons, who give themselves totally so that Jesus Christ will be proclaimed and loved. Here I would like to encourage young people who are called by God to commit themselves with enthusiasm to these vocations: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). To those who leave everything to follow him, Jesus promised a hundredfold as much and eternal life besides (cf. Mt 19:29).

I also give thanks for all those lay men and women who do their best to live their daily lives as mission wherever they find themselves, at home or at work, so that Christ will be loved and served and that the Kingdom of God will grow. I think especially of all those who work in the fields of education, health care, business, politics and finance, and in the many other areas of the lay apostolate. Christ needs your commitment and your witness. Let nothing – whether difficulties or lack of understanding – discourage you from bringing the Gospel of Christ wherever you find yourselves. Each of you is a precious piece in the great mosaic of evangelization!

You can read the entire statement from Pope Benedict XVI at Zenit.

‘Year of Faith’ Celebrated at Faithful Catholic Colleges

Many Catholic colleges and universities are taking part in the “Year of Faith” proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, with spiritual and academic activities aimed at strengthening faith on campus, according to a new report published by The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS).

“It is wonderful to see Catholic colleges demonstrating their dedication to the Catholic faith in such tangible ways during this special year,” said Patrick J. Reilly, CNS president.  “It is my sincere hope that the Year of Faith will encourage all Catholic colleges to promote and defend the faith in every facet of campus life.”

Pope Benedict opened the Year of Faith on October 11, 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  In his Apostolic Letter Porta fidei, issued the same day, the Holy Father placed great emphasis on the importance of the Catechism.  The Year of Faith will conclude on November 24, 2013, the feast of Christ the King.

new report prepared by CNS researcher Matt Archbold—titled “Catholic Colleges Celebrate ‘Year of Faith’: A Review of Plans at Faithful Colleges in The Newman Guide”—highlights many campus programs planned by the Catholic colleges and universities to mark the Year of Faith.

Archbold interviewed many officials from Catholic colleges for the report.  Campus representatives indicated that plans for the Year of Faith are scheduled, and in many cases already underway.  The colleges are hosting activities including special Masses, other opportunities for prayer, guest talks, lectures on various faith-related topics, viewings of inspirational films, and symposia about the faith.

The Catholic colleges included in the report are all recommended by CNS in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, newly updated and available as a free online resource at

Theologians’ Mandatum “Not Meant to Be a Meaningless Norm”

The National Catholic Register is reporting on The Cardinal Newman Society’s special report on implementation of the mandatum, following Pope Benedict XVI’s statements urging “compliance” with the canonical mandate for college professors who teach Catholic theology.

Senior writer Tim Drake reports in the Register’s new print edition:

Of the nation’s more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities, only a handful publicly disclose that their theologians have the mandatum.

…“We hear often from Catholic families who are distressed and confused by the secrecy at many Catholic universities regarding the mandatum,” said [Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick] Reilly. “They believe they have a right as Catholics and consumers to know which professors are committed to authentic Catholic theology, and they are dismayed that any college course would be taught in shadows and darkness, least of all Catholic theology.”

The primary concern of the theologians who do not publicly disclose whether they have the mandatum is that “it will diminish them in the esteem of the secular academic world,” noted Jesuit Father James Conn, professor of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, who is currently serving as professor of the practice of canon law at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. “They feel that it would somehow diminish their academic freedom to be beholden to the ecclesiastical authority when their colleagues do not have to,” explained Father Conn.

Cardinal [Raymond] Burke, [prefect of the Vatican’s canon law courts,] however, said that as a public declaration, in writing, the mandatum is a public act. “The fact that I teach in accord with the magisterium is a public factor,” said Cardinal Burke. “Ultimately, the mandatum gives that assurance to students that, if they enroll in a given college or university, they can count upon receiving a solid education in Catholic theology.”

“The reason for the law is a kind of truth in advertising,” said Father Conn. “Otherwise, it serves no purpose. Canon 812 was not meant to be a meaningless norm.”

The Cardinal Newman Society’s full report, “A Mandate for Fidelity,” can be found online here.

Pope Benedict on “Unprecedented Gravity” of Threats to Religious Freedom

The Vatican has warned of threats of “unprecedented gravity” to religious freedom in the United States, according to The Vatican News Service.

In a message to the 130th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, Pope Benedict XVI, in a message  signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, spoke of “the responsibility of each new generation to preserve, defend and advance” the ideals of religious freedom. The Pope pointed to “concerted efforts”  being made to “redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom.”

The Knights of Columbus have long been at the forefront of the fight for religious liberty.

The message read in part:

The theme of this year’s Supreme Convention – Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land – evokes not only the great biblical ideals of freedom and justice which shaped the founding of the United States of America, but also the responsibility of each new generation to preserve, defend and advance those great ideals in its own day. At a time when concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom, the Knights of Columbus have worked tirelessly to help the Catholic community recognize and respond to the unprecedented gravity of these new threats to the Church’s liberty and public moral witness. By defending the right of all religious believers, as individual citizens and in their institutions, to work responsibly in shaping a democratic society inspired by their deepest beliefs, values and aspirations, your Order has proudly lived up to the high religious and patriotic principles which inspired its founding.

The challenges of the present moment are in fact yet another reminder of the decisive importance of the Catholic laity for the advancement of the Church’s mission in today’s rapidly changing social context.

College Lecturer Dismantles Five Top Myths Of the Crusades

Steve Weidenkopf, a lecturer of Church history at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College, wrote an excellent piece at Crisis Magazine detailing the who, what, when, why and how concerning the Crusades.

Why should you care about the Crusades?

“Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized the need for a ‘New Evangelization’ to re-spread the Faith to areas of the world where it has been lost or forgotten, “Weidenkopf points out. “Part of the New Evangelization is learning the authentic history of the Church and Western Civilization.  No greater example, of an area where authentic learning is paramount, is found than the Crusades.”

And few incidents in history are so clearly misunderstood as the Crusades.  Weidenkopf dismantles five of the most enduring myths about the Crusades including

Myth #1: The Crusades were wars of unprovoked aggression

Myth #2:  The Crusades were about European greed for booty, plunder and the establishment of colonies.

Myth #3:  When Jerusalem was captured in 1099 the crusaders killed all the inhabitants – so many were killed that the blood flowed ankle deep through the city.

Myth #4: The Crusades were also wars against the Jews and should be considered the first Holocaust.

Myth #5:  The Crusades are the source of the modern tension between Islam and the West.

Find out the details at Crisis Magazine.

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

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, 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.”

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.

Now Pope Benedict’s concern about a lack of “compliance” with Canon 812 renews questions about Catholic colleges and universities’ obligations relative to the mandatum.  The Cardinal Newman Society asked several experts including Cardinal Burke, archbishop emeritus of St. Louis and prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest canon law court, to explain what canon law requires.

Citing Pope Benedict’s description of the mandatum as “a tangible expression of ecclesial communion and solidarity,” Cardinal Burke said:

It’s tangible in the sense that it’s a public declaration, in writing, on the part of the ecclesiastical authority that a theologian is teaching in communion with the Church, and people have a right to know that so that if you, for instance, are at a Catholic university or parents are sending their children to the Catholic university, they know that the professors who are teaching theological disciplines at the university are teaching in communion with the Church. They are assured in that by the public declaration of the diocesan bishop.

“The fact that I teach in accord with the Magisterium is a public factor,” added Cardinal Burke. “That’s not some private, secret thing between myself and the Lord.”

Father Thomas Weinandy, OFM Cap., executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told The Cardinal Newman Society that theology professors ought to be proud of receiving the mandatum, which is an honor “recognizing that theologians have a true vocation in the Church.”

I wouldn’t know why you wouldn’t want it to be public. The whole point is public recognition that somebody is truly a Catholic theologian. I don’t know why you would want to keep that hidden when the Church is bestowing the mandatum to recognize that somebody is truly a Catholic theologian.

Asked whether only theology professors with the mandatum should be employed at a Catholic college or university, Cardinal Burke responded “yes” and added:

…[T]he Catholic university will want that all its teachers of theology or the theological disciplines have a mandate and will not, of course, retain the professor in teaching Catholic theology or the theological disciplines who does not have a mandate, because to do so would be to call into question the whole raison d’etre of the university. If a Catholic university doesn’t distinguish itself for its care, that those who are teaching theology and the other theological disciplines are doing so in communion with the Magisterium, what reason does it have to exist?

In preparing the report, The Cardinal Newman Society consulted many other experts in theology and canon law, including Archbishop Emeritus Elden Curtiss of Omaha, Bishop Emeritus Joseph Martino of Scranton, Gregorian University canonist Fr. James Conn, SJ, canonist Robert Flummerfelt, and theologians Msgr. Stuart Swetland of Mount St. Mary’s University, Fr. Edward O’Connor, CSC, of the University of Notre Dame, Fr. Matthew Lamb of Ave Maria University, Brian Benestad of the University of Scranton, Larry Chapp of DeSales University, Mark Lowery and Christopher Malloy of the University of Dallas, and Dennis Martin of Loyola University Chicago.

International Eucharistic Congress Hosts Talks by Christendom College President

Christendom College president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell traveled to Ireland last month to deliver three lectures at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.  At the Congress, which was presided over by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops at the Vatican, O’Donnell delivered talks on the relevance of the Eucharist to the priesthood, the life of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Eucharistic Congress was attended by more than 70,000 people who heard from theologians, religious, priests, bishops, and cardinals on topics relating to the theme, “Communion with Christ and with one another.”

From the Christendom College press release:

“There were people from France, India, the Philippines, South America—from all over,” O’Donnell said. “It truly was international.” …

Even Pope Benedict the XVI addressed the attendees via television broadcast. O’Donnell said that being a part of the congress was an incredible experience were he witnessed “a vibrant living Church.”

“I saw how the Eucharist draws us together,” he said. “I think everyone who participated experienced the Church’s universality and came closer to the Heart of Christ.”

In his first talk entitled “Priests After His Heart,” O’Donnell examined the role of the priest as leaders of the Christian community in the light of Church teaching. He emphasized the importance for priest to conform to Christ in imitation of the sentiments of our Lord’s priestly Heart as found in the Gospels.

“To have a priestly heart is to have the heart of a shepherd—the Heart of Christ,” O’Donnell said in his talk. “Today, especially in this climate of contempt and suspicion, we need to pray for our priests. But in addition to praying for our priests so that they will remain true to their calling, we must also offer prayers of thanksgiving to God for them.”

Read his entire talk here.

Read more about O’Donnell’s other talks at the Eucharistic Congress here.

Christendom College is promoted by The Cardinal Newman Society in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.