The Orwellian World of Catholic Higher Education | Anne Hendershott | Catholic World Report
A report on the implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae reveals next to nothing about the real state of affairs on Catholic college campuses.
In 1990, Pope John Paul II released Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the papal document defining the centrality of Catholic higher education. Its title translated as “from the heart of the Church,” the document called for Catholic colleges to be faithful to their Catholic mission and accountable to their local bishops. Fiercely resisted by many Catholic college presidents and faculty members, who viewed Ex Corde Ecclesiae as a threat to their academic freedom, it took more than 10 years to implement. Last month, the Office of the Secretariat of Education at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released what they called The Final Report for the Ten Year Review of the Application of Ex Corde Ecclesiae for the United States.
Unfortunately, the Ten Year Review provides almost no information about the progress that has been made in implementing the papal document on the 230 Catholic campuses throughout the country. Rather than providing facts about the implementation, the Ten Year Review is a one-page, self-congratulatory, platitudinous document that lauds “ongoing dialogue” and a “spirit of collaboration,” but says almost nothing about what is really happening in Catholic higher education. In fact, any Catholic who has been paying attention to the culture and curricula on many of these campuses can be forgiven if he felt like he had stepped into a chapter of George Orwell’s 1984 when reading a recent headline in the National Catholic Reporter, which proclaimed: “Bishops, colleges find good collaboration in Ex Corde review.” That same Catholic must have been even more surprised to read a headline in Our Sunday Visitor that claimed: “Progress seen in boosting Catholic identity on campuses.”
Good collaboration with bishops? Boosting Catholic identity? For faithful Catholics, it must have seemed like just yesterday there was yet another serious scandal on a Catholic campus. That is because it was just yesterday. In fact, this month alone included a long list of scandals on Catholic campuses. Leading the list are the annual productions of The Vagina Monologues, most scheduled on or around Valentine’s Day. This year, performances of the play were held on 12 Catholic campuses, up from nine last year; among other things, the play favorably portrays homosexual relations, adult-child sex, and abortion.
Beyond these annual events, on many Catholic campuses students can get class credit through internships at Planned Parenthood, serving as clinic escorts.