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What does a bishop have to do with the Catholic colleges in his diocese?
Quite a bit, according to the Cardinal Newman Society — and a key example is Kansas City-Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.
“A bishop’s oversight of Catholic education within his diocese — including schools, home schools, and colleges — is indispensable,” the apostolate promoting authentic Catholic higher education reported, adding: “That’s the experience of President Stephen Minnis, who has led an exciting renewal of faithful education and formation over the last two decades at Benedictine College.”
The Newman Society report featured the image seen above of Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Minnis helping lead the March for Life in 2014 and quoted Minnis saying the Archbishop “has always been available to help me as the College faces significant issues, and his advice has been invaluable as we chart the course of the College.”
The Church has always seen universities as partners with the bishop on the frontlines of the Church’s mission, said the Newman Society, reporting:
These documents give bishops a direct role in higher education says the report:
Pope John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution“Ex corde Ecclesiae requires that Catholic college leaders report to their bishops: ‘Every Catholic University, without ceasing to be a University, has a relationship to the Church that is essential to its institutional identity’ (27). And in The Identity of the Catholic School we read, ‘Indeed, the ‘ecclesial nature of Catholic schools, which is inscribed in the very heart of their identity as schools, is the reason for the institutional link they keep with the Church hierarchy’ (50).
The Church assigns each bishop the responsibility to “promote and assist” in the Catholic identity of schools in his diocese. The Identity of the Catholic School explains how this should happen:
President Minnis gives Archbishop Naumann a lot of credit for the strong Catholic identity at Benedictine College.
“His request that we report on our compliance to Ex Corde Ecclesiae gave us a campuswide focus on how that document impacts each aspect of our work that shaped our day to day operations,” Minnis said. “His request in 2021 that we show how we are creating a culture of evangelization on campus did the same thing, clarifying how we live our mission.”
In the past year, Minnis cited how:
“Archbishop Naumann has been a great leader for Benedictine College, both in directing us and in supporting our efforts,” Minnis said.