The Catholic University of America

Conferral of Canonical Mission and Venia Docendi

The following is an explanation provided by Father David O'Connell, C.M., university president, of the canonical mission and venia docendi and the reason why they were conferred at this year's university-wide Mass to mark the beginning of the new academic year.

"As a pontifical university with ecclesiastical faculties, the university has a special relationship to the Church, one that is different from her peer institutions. The schools of philosophy, theology and religious studies, and canon law, because they play a significant role within the Church by providing instruction in what used to be called the 'sacred sciences,' have an obligation not only to be in full communion with the Church - an obligation expressed by the mandatum of canon 812 and Ex Corde Ecclesiae for Catholic colleges and universities - but also, at CUA, to 'teach in the name of the Church,' an obligation expressed by the 'canonical mission' of canon 818 and Sapientia Christiana for pontifical universities and ecclesiastical faculties. Unlike the mandatum, which is the obligation of the professor to obtain, the 'canonical mission' is the obligation of the institution to obtain for the professor before his/her appointment. Professors on ecclesiastical faculties who are non Catholic receive a venia docendi, or permission to teach in the name of the Church.

"In the past, I simply requested the authorization from the archbishop/chancellor and mailed a copy to the professor. With the renewal of attention paid to Catholic identity and, in light of Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to CUA, I felt that the conferral of this responsibility warranted more solemnization. I chose to introduce this custom into our opening Mass for this reason. The canonical mission has always been conferred but the difference now is that it will be done in a more fitting way than in the past."

The following is a list of the faculty who received the canonical mission or venia docendi at the Aug. 28 university Mass:

School of Philosophy, the Conferral of the Venia Docendi:

Michael Rohlf

School of Theology and Religious Studies, the Conferral of the Canonical Mission:

Joshua C. Benson

David Alan Bosworth

Sister Mary Ann Clarahan, R.S.M.

Helen Mardaga

Robert Miller

Chad C. Pecknold

School of Theology and Religious Studies, the Conferral of the Venia Docendi:

Tarmo Toom