Vatican Education Official Warns Dissenting Catholic Colleges May Lose ‘Catholic’ Status

By staff

NOTRE DAME, Indiana, November 3, 2005 ( -Â The Vatican’s number two education official predicts that Pope Benedict XVI will follow a path of “evangelical pruning” of secularized Catholic colleges and universities, declaring them no longer Catholic.

Archbishop Michael Miller, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education and former president of the University of Saint Thomas in Houston, addressed officials and faculty at the University of Notre Dame on Monday.

Miller said that his prediction was based on an examination of the new Pope’s writings and approach. The Pope has argued “that it might be better for the Church not to expend its resources trying to preserve institutions if their Catholic identity has been seriously compromised,” Miller said.

In the Holy Father’s view, “the measure of an institution can be judged by its Catholic integrity,” Miller said. If the institution secularizes, “it might be a matter of truth and justice that such an institution is no longer upheld. . . . f a Catholic institution is no longer motivated by a Catholic identity, it is better to let it go.”

“The burden of proof falls on the university itself,” Miller added.“Such a decision to retain one’s Catholic identity is not about maintaining the status quo, but [rather] making positive changes.”

Contrary to the pattern of many Church leaders, who have waited patiently for improvements in Catholic higher education, the Pope “appears to be more inclined to avoid scandal and lead a path of evangelical pruning, but we don’t know. We await.”

Patrick J. Reilly, President of the Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization to strengthen and renew Catholic identity at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities, commented: “The Cardinal Newman Society has long sought ‘truth in advertising’ from Catholic colleges and universities, and we have always allied ourselves with the Vatican and the U.S. bishops in this pursuit. The evidence of secularization that we have exposed for more than 12 years is overwhelming and clearly warrants a strong response from Church leaders.Â

“The ‘wait and see’ approach generously relied on the goodwill of Catholic educators, but it has only allowed disunity and dissent in the Church to go unchallenged, with disastrous consequences for Catholic students and their families.”


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