Implementing "Ex corde Ecclesiae"
As an educational institution that believes deeply in its commitment to preserving and promulgating the Catholic Faith, Wyoming Catholic College joyfully accepts Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, striving whole-heartedly to implement the binding norms it lays down for institutions such as ours.
WCC’s mission – to educate the whole person in mind, spirit, and body through a classical liberal arts curriculum, aided by a rich Catholic environment and an exciting outdoor leadership program – is best achieved in an environment of true Catholicity. This environment, fostered through the College’s community of students, faculty, and staff, is promoted through carefully-chosen student life norms, fostered by a faculty dedicated to Catholic principles, and achieved with the assistance of an administrative staff committed to governing the College in accordance with Catholic morals and norms. We believe this comports with the ideal expressed in Ex corde Ecclesiae: “the community is animated by a spirit of freedom and charity; it is characterized by mutual respect, sincere dialogue, and protection of the rights of individuals. It assists each of its members to achieve wholeness as human persons” (n. 21)
The mission of Wyoming Catholic College, set forth in its Philosophical Vision Statement, takes much of its general orientation from Ex corde Ecclesiae.
A Catholic University, like every university, is a community of scholars representing various branches of human knowledge. It is dedicated to research, to teaching, and to various kinds of service in accordance with its cultural mission. A Catholic University, as Catholic, informs and carries out its research, teaching, and all other activities with Catholic ideals, principles, and attitudes....Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities, while the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully respected. Any official action or commitment of the University is to be in accord with its Catholic identity. (Part II, Art. 2)
The governing structure of Wyoming Catholic College was, in significant ways, designed to ensure that the above norms would always be faithfully kept. The bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne, in which WCC is located, is an ex officio member of the Board of Directors. This structural feature is to the great benefit of the College, allowing the bishop to fulfill his responsibilities towards a Catholic college located in his diocese:
Bishops have a particular responsibility to promote Catholic Universities, and especially to promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic identity....This will be achieved more effectively if close personal and pastoral relationships exist between University and Church authorities, characterized by mutual trust, close and consistent cooperation and continuing dialogue. (n. 28)
The corporate structure of WCC requires that two-thirds of all board members, faculty, and staff be practicing Catholics in good standing. As the Apostolic Constitution explains, “In order not to endanger the Catholic identity of the University or Institute of Higher Studies, the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic” (Part II, Art. 4, §3; §4).
Professors at WCC are firmly resolved never to teach anything contrary to Catholic faith and morals as taught by the Church’s Magisterium. Again, this is to meet the reasonable and exacting standards of Ex corde Ecclesiae:
Every Catholic University, without ceasing to be a University, has a relationship to the Church that is essential to its institutional identity. As such, it participates most directly in the life of the local Church in which it is situated; at the same time, because it is an academic institution and therefore a part of the international community of scholarship and inquiry, each institution participates in and contributes to the life and the mission of the universal Church, assuming consequently a special bond with the Holy See by reason of the service to unity which it is called to render to the whole Church. One consequence of its essential relationship to the Church is that the institutional fidelity of the University to the Christian message includes a recognition of and adherence to the teaching authority of the Church in matters of faith and morals. (n. 27)
On the other hand, WCC encourages its faculty to recognize that they enjoy genuine academic freedom, in accordance with the rich Catholic tradition of human rights set in the context of the search for truth and the need to preserve and further the common good (n. 12).
At Wyoming Catholic College there is an institution-wide commitment to our Catholic identity and to our obligations to teach and respect the Catholic faith in every regard. To signify their assent to these, Catholic faculty at WCC make a public Profession of Faith and take the Oath of Fidelity at the beginning of each academic year, while non-Catholic faculty make a pledge of respect for the Catholic Church and her teaching authority, embodying the norms of Ex corde Ecclesiae:
In ways appropriate to the different academic disciplines, all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching. Those university teachers and administrators, who belong to other churches, ecclesial communities, or religions, as well as those who profess no religious belief, and also all students, are to recognize and respect the distinctive Catholic identity of the University. (Part II, Art. 4, sec 3 & 4)
Additionally, any member of WCC’s faculty who teaches theology is obliged to receive a canonical mandatum from the Bishop of Cheyenne. Indeed, “Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition” (Part II, Art. 4. sec. 3).
Wyoming Catholic College has the noble mission of educating students to be the very best they can be, persons fully alive in Christ. The College believes that such a lofty goal for our students fully conforms with the challenge Ex corde Ecclesiae sets for them:
Most especially, [students at a Catholic university] are challenged to continue the search for truth and for meaning throughout their lives, since “the human spirit must be cultivated in such a way that there results a growth in its ability to wonder, to understand, to contemplate, to make personal judgments, and to develop a religious, moral, and social sense” (Gaudium et Spes). … They should realize the responsibility of their professional life, the enthusiasm of being the trained leaders of tomorrow, of being witnesses to Christ in whatever place they may exercise their profession. (n. 23)
In all these ways, Wyoming Catholic College assiduously embraces the ideals set forth by Venerable John Paul II in his landmark Apostolic Constitution. We are eager to serve the Church in her obligation to provide a profoundly meaningful education to those who attend Catholic higher education institutions. We are confident that the total teaching and learning environment at WCC harmonizes with the aims of Ex corde Ecclesiae and are grateful for the guidance provided by Pope John Paul II.