By Fr. George Welzbacher
November 25, 2007
Christ our Lord, Whose Kingship we honor today, brings His authority to bear upon our lives here on earth principally through His Mystical Body, the Church, which is to say, more precisely, through the bishops of His Church, insofar as they stand in full communion with St. Peter's successor, the Bishop of Rome. That is why St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, an invaluable witness to the life and to the governing structure of Christ's Church in the generation that followed the death of the last of the apostles, emphasizes over and over again in his Letters to the Churches of Asia [i.e.Asia Minor]: "Do nothing without the bishop!" (This same Ignatius, by the way, was the first to use the word "Catholic" to distinguish the authentic Church of Christ from sundry heretical simulations). That injunction and that spirit-"Do nothing without the bishop!"--will be embodied in every enterprise to which the designation "Catholic" deservedly applies. Such would be the case, for example, with respect to an institution dedicated to Catholic higher education.
In exemplification of how this principle ought to apply in the world of Catholic higher education one might cite the by-laws of the largest diocesan institution of higher leaming in the United States, Seton Hall University, owned and operated by the Archdiocese of Newark. May I provide you with a sampling of the by-laws of that Catholic university with particular reference to who will enjoy ex officio membership on the university's governing board. Such membership is designed to guarantee the institution's continuing Catholicity. Through the automatic awarding of the presidency of the governing board to the Archbishop of the diocese in which the university is located "the right of Christ's Church to establish and to rule schools of every kind and at every level" (Gravissimum Educationis, a decree of Vatican II) is appropriately assured .
* * * * *Ex-officio Members. The following persons "by virtue of their office" shall be members of the Board of Trustees with full voting privileges: The Most Reverend Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark (or if there is a vacancy in the office of the Archbishop, the Administrator), as President; the Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark; the President of the University; The University's Minister to the Priest. Community as Rector-Dean of the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology; the Chair of the Board of Regents; the Vice Chair of the Board of Regents; the Secretary of the Board of Regents; and three (3) additional members of the Board of Regents who serve on the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents as provided in Article V, Section 2 (A).
C. Appointed Members. In addition to the aforesaid ex-officio members, there shall be five (5) persons appointed to the Board of Trustees by the Most Reverend Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark (or if there is a vacancy in the office of the Archbishop, the Administrator).
1 . The terms of membership of the ex-otticio members shall be coterminous with their incumbency in the office on which their membership is based.
2. The term of office of each appointed member of the Board of Trustees shall be three (3) years.... Notwithstanding the foregoing, any appointed member of the Board of Trustees may be removed from the Board by the Most Reverend Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark (or if there is a vacancy in the office of the Archbishop, the Administrator), with or without cause.
E. The Chair of the Board of Trustees shall always be the Most Reverend Archbishop of Newark, President of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark (or if there is a vacancy in the office of the Archbishop, the Administrator).
F. A Vice Chair and Secretary of the Board of Trustees shall be elected from the membership of the Board of Trustees by the Board of Trustees.