Beliefnet
ATLANTA, June 15 (AP) -- A proposed system to make sure professors at Roman Catholic-affiliated colleges teach "authentic Catholic doctrine" could have limited impact because bishops have no power to force it upon the scholars, a key bishop says.

Besides the mandatum issue, the bishops are scheduled to vote Friday on a revised policy for Catholic hospitals and a statement on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Pilarczyk is also handling hospital matter, which responds to Vatican insistence that Catholic facilities merging with non-Catholic ones shun all involvement with direct sterilizations as a birth control measure.

The archbishop told the meeting "the Catholic health care community felt very threatened and uneasy about the whole thing" but the final proposal is "acceptable" to both the Vatican and representatives of the 1,140 U.S. Catholic health agencies.

The proposal says Catholic institutions can't cooperate in such "intrinsically immoral" procedures as abortion, euthanasia and sterilization and "as a rule" should avoid partnerships that involve cooperation with such "wrongdoing."

The Mideast statement follows one last November in which the bishops for the first time endorsed "establishment of an internationally recognized Palestinian state" as well as Israel's right to exist "within secure borders."

The statement coming before the bishops Friday casts blame on both sides for the current crisis. It says Palestinians "rightly insist" on an end to Israel's "occupation" by force of the West Bank. It says Palestinians see a regime "marked by daily indignities, abuse and violence."

On the other hand, the proposal states, Palestinian leaders "need to clearly renounce violence and terrorist acts" and "take effective steps to stop them."

The proposal, being voted on Friday at a meeting of the American Catholic hierarchy, has sparked fears among U.S. Roman Catholic scholars, some of whom consider it a loyalty oath.

But Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, head of a special committee on the so-called issue, told his fellow bishops Thursday that even if the proposal passes, it won't become a requirement for professors.

"If people don't do this they should be open to persuasion but there is no mechanism to make anyone do anything. We cannot make the college make that a requirement for hiring," he said.

The bishops are expected to approve the new setup Friday. It calls for Catholics teaching religion in America's 235 church-related colleges to apply for the mandatum, or special certification, from their local bishop.

The mandatum is formal recognition from the bishop that the instructor is committed "to teach authentic Catholic doctrine" and to avoid presenting as Catholic teaching "anything contrary to" what the church has defined.

The certification process follows Vatican directives, but some theologians have already said they won't apply for it. When Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver asked what a bishop can do if they refuse, Pilarczyk said sanctions don't exist since colleges are self-governing.

That perplexed Bishop Sean O'Malley of Fall River, Mass. "I don't understand why a university, if it's a Catholic institution, doesn't have a responsibility to require this," he said. "Otherwise it seems like an exercise in futility."

But Chicago's Cardinal Francis George said there will be impact, even though professors minus the mandatum won't lose their jobs. For instance, he said, bishops won't want such unwilling scholars to train parish educators, speak at Catholic events or represent the church in ecumenical projects.

More On the Academic Mandatum

  • Facing the Mandatum Alone Professors are on the front lines of scrutiny

  • Will the Mandatum Make A Difference? The Bishops' approval might not change a thing if they can't enforce it
  • More On the Academic Mandatum

  • Facing the Mandatum Alone Professors are on the front lines of scrutiny
  • Will the Mandatum Make A Difference? The Bishops' approval might not change a thing if they can't enforce it
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