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Clarifying Terms - Ecclesiastical Faculties Granting Canonical Degrees

 
Michael Galligan-Stierle, Ph.D.

USCCB Assistant Secretary for Catholic Higher Education and Campus Ministry
August 2005
Appeared in Seminary Journal Volume 11, Number 2, Fall 2005 pgs 18-20

The USCCB Sapientia Christiana Subcommittee commissioned CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, to complete two major studies in the last four years. It has also issued a CARA Special Report on the first study, and the subcommittee hopes to issue another one in the near future. In order to have data that is accurate and helpful to the institutions participating in the studies, the rectors and deans of canonical granting degree institutions were invited to meet at the last four NCEA Seminary Convocations. This year, Bishop Michael Burbidge, the Sapientia Christiana chair, and Sr. Mary Bendyna, RSM, the primary CARA researcher, presented preliminary findings from the most recent study. Both answered questions, clarified a number of terms used in the apostolic constitution Sapientia Christiana, and had participants suggest agenda items for future subcommittee meetings.

Since a CARA Special Report will be issued in the near future, documenting the findings of the latest study, this article focuses on the use of specific definitions, terms and language enumerated in Sapientia Christiana. The glossary was compiled in consultation with the Congregation of Education in Rome. What follows is the latest version of the glossary of terms assembled by the CARA team. Participants of the study and the workshop received an earlier draft of the glossary. A review of the definitions below, as utilized by Sapientia Christiana, highlights a shift from commonly understood usage. The CARA researchers and the subcommittee members hope to help rectify that situation by clarifying terms and using them more precisely in conversations with those engaged in the work outlined in Sapientia Christiana. Special attention to the correct usage of such words as pontifical, canonical, ecclesiastical, first / second / third cycle, affiliated / aggregated / incorporated institutions would significantly advance the subcommittee’s work.

Glossary of Terms: Apostolic Constitution Sapienta Christianon Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties

Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties – universities or faculties that have been “canonically erected or approved by the Apostolic See, which foster and teach sacred doctrine and the sciences connected therewith, and which have the right to confer academic degrees by the authority of the Holy See.” (Sapientia Christiana, Article 2) This canonical erection or approval is “reserved to the Sacred [sic] Congregation for Catholic Education, which governs them according to law.” (Sapientia Christiana, Article 5) “Only Universities and Faculties canonically erected or approved by the Holy See and ordered according to the norms of this present Constitution have the right to confer academic degrees which have canonical value, with the exception of the special right of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.” (Sapientia Christiana, Article 6)

The word “Pontifical” in the title of a university does not imply the existence of an Ecclesiastical University or Faculty. “Pontifical” is a title of honor bestowed upon an Institution by the Holy Father. It has no reference to the institution’s degree-granting capacity.

Ecclesiastical Faculties are not necessarily found only in Ecclesiastical Universities. “Ecclesiastical Faculties erected or approved by the Holy See in non-ecclesiastical universities, which confer both canonical and civil academic degrees, must observe the prescriptions of the present Constitution, account being taken of the conventions signed by the Holy See with various nations or with the universities themselves.” (Sapientia Christiana, Article 8)

The Norms of Application of Sapientia Christiana stipulate that “a Rector is one who presides over a[n Ecclesiastical] University; a President is one who presides over an [Ecclesiastical] Institute or [Ecclesiastical] Faculty which exists separately; a Dean is one who presides over a[n Ecclesiastical] Faculty which is part of a[n Ecclesiastical] University. (Norms of Application, Article 13, n.1)

Affiliated Institution – in certain circumstances an Ecclesiastical Faculty may request approval from the Congregation for Catholic Education to affiliate to another institution “for the purpose of being able to grant the bachelor’s degree.” (Sapientia Christiana, Article 62, n.1.) Such an affiliation “is usually granted only when the affiliating Faculty and the affiliated institution are in the same country or cultural region.” (Norms of Application, Article 47)

Aggregated Institution – in certain circumstances an Ecclesiastical Faculty may request approval from the Congregation for Catholic Education to aggregate to another institution “for the purposes of also granting higher academic degrees.” (Sapientia Christiana, Article 63) “Aggregation is the linking with a Faculty of some Institute which embraces only the first and second cycle, for the purpose of granting the degrees corresponding to those cycles through the Faculty.” (Norms of Application, Article 48, n.1)

Incorporated Institutions – in certain circumstances an Ecclesiastical Faculty may request approval from the Congregation for Catholic Education to incorporate. “Incorporation is the insertion into a Faculty of some Institute which embraces either the second or third cycle or both, for the purpose of granting the corresponding degrees through the Faculty.” (Sapientia Christiana, Article 47)

Canonical Degree – an academic degree having canonical effects. The academic degrees conferred by an Ecclesiastical Faculty are the Baccalaureate, Licentiate, and Doctorate. (Article 47) A canonical degree, also properly called an ecclesiastical degree, is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a “pontifical degree.” Only an Ecclesiastical Faculty may confer canonical degrees. “Faculties which have not been canonically erected or approved by the Holy See may not confer academic degrees having canonical value.” (Article 9.n.1.) The degree is “given in the name of the Supreme Pontiff.” (Article 34 of the Norms of Application of Sapientia Christiana)

The institutions and degrees that are of special interest to the Sapientia Christiana Subcommittee of the USCCB are of six types:

  1. Ecclesiastical Faculties, with the right to grant the Baccalaureate, Licentiate, and Doctorate in Sacred Theology, Canon Law or Philosophy;
  2. Theological Institute of the First Cycle, with the right to grant the Baccalaureate of Sacred Theology;
  3. Affiliated Institutions, through which an Ecclesiastical Faculty grants the Baccalaureate of Sacred Theology by way of Affiliation;
  4. Aggregated Institutions, through which an Ecclesiastical Faculty grants both the Baccalaureate and Licentiate by way of Aggregation;
  5. Incorporated Institutions, through which an Ecclesiastical Faculty grants the second or third cycle ecclesiastical degrees, namely the licentiate and doctorate;
  6. Seminaries (Houses of Studies) in the United States or that operate under the authority of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops whose students receive their degrees from Ecclesiastical Faculties at institutions located near them.


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