VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II set down rules for Catholic universities today, pleasing many U.S. Catholic educators by dropping earlier plans to give bishops jurisdiction over the hiring and firing of theologians.
But the pontiff also included a stipulation that surprised American officials--that a majority of an institution's teachers be Catholic.
The long-awaited papal document upheld the right of academic freedom and independence. But it also stressed that students and teachers--particularly theologians--must not stray from official church teaching, and it gave local bishops a watchdog role.
"All Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching," the Pope wrote.
The 49-page document, drawn up over 10 years, appeared to meet the requests of U.S. Catholic educators, who had complained that earlier drafts threatened to undermine academic freedom and give the church hierarchy too much control.