Fr. James Tunstead Burtchatell

James Burtchatell is a former provost at Notre Dame and a former chairman of the university's theology department.

recent articles

Part One: Slouching Toward Secularism

The drama surrounding Ex Corde Ecclesiae (1990) didn’t rise from nowhere. Rather, it began unobtrusively in 1949, when the Vatican created the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU). The IFCU invited only those chartered and overseen by the Holy See itself. More than half of the institutional activity in Catholic higher education was concentrated in … Read more

Part Two: The Worrisome Gestation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae

In the spring of 1985 began what would be a strenuous struggle between the Holy See and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) over the fate of Catholic higher education in the United States. It continues to this day. The Congregation for Catholic Education, then presided over by an American, William Cardinal Baum, … Read more

Part Three: Climbing the Ivory Tower

What made the presidents especially uneasy with the apostolic constitution was its explicit insistence that the bishops were not “external agents but participants.” Indeed, each university was “to maintain communion” with its own bishop, the national conference, and the Holy See, and to give a periodic account of the indicators of its Catholic identity. The … Read more

Part Four: External Authorities?

What, then, are the particulars of this struggle between the college and university presidents and the pope? There are three. Rome insists that any university that puts itself forward publicly as Catholic should have a public acknowledgement from pope or bishops that it is worthy such a trust. Rome also insists that a Catholic education … Read more

Part Five: The Theologian’s Mandate

We are told that the third requirement of the pope and the draft Ordinances, Catholic theologians with credentials from their bishops, has agitated the presidents more than the other points at issue. This is strange, for the other two imperatives are much more important for their survival. It may be that the presidents, like the … Read more

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