ANGELES City, Pampanga, Sept. 12, 2015 – A lay-run Catholic university in Pampanga was cited recently by US-based Catholic advocacy group Cardinal Newman Society for its adherence to “Ex corde Ecclesiae,” the 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic schools and educators, and for “setting an example for other universities in the largely Catholic country and around the world.”
The advocacy group’s online publication The Catholic Education Daily reported a public ceremony where theology professors of Holy Angel University (HAU) in Angeles City recited the Oath of Fidelity and received the mandatum (mandate) from their local ordinary, San Fernando Archbishop Florentino G. Lavarias.
The prelate gave the mandatum in recognition of the professors’ pledge to teach in full communion with the Magisterium of the Church in accordance with Canon 812.
This law reads: “Those who teach theological disciplines in any institutes of higher studies whatsoever must have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority.”
Robby Tantingco, HAU’s vice president for external affairs, shared that the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomás (UST) in Manila is the only other Catholic education institution in the Philippines that had officially declared conformity to Ex corde Ecclesiae.
In a press release, HAU President Dr. Luis Maria R. Calingo explains that the mandatum does not infringe upon academic freedom and that there is no contradiction between faith and freedom.
“The Catholic faith brings life to the Truth; it does not suppress it. Our faith liberates us because it is true. We see the university’s mission as our active participation in the evangelizing mission of the Church, in addition to serving the common good. We are ‘from the heart of the Church‘ and are proud of it,” he says.
In 2012, the Cardinal Newman Society cited a recommendation by Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and other canon law experts that the mandatum must be acknowledged in public, which rarely happens in the United States or elsewhere.
According to Frank Joseph Dewane, bishop of Venice, Florida, families of college students have “a right to know” which professors have the mandatum.
On his visit to the US in 2008, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reportedly noted that a university or school’s Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students.
Matter of conviction
“It is a matter of conviction—do we really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear? Are we ready to commit our entire self—intellect and will, mind and heart—to God?” he asked.
HAU is the biggest Catholic school in Central Luzon. Founded in 1933, it is considered the country’s first Catholic school founded by laypersons, instead of the usual diocese or religious congregation.
The Cardinal Newman Society is a international non-profit organization that advocates Catholic education and research and promotes best practices in Catholic educational institutions. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)