Catholic colleges and universities in the US are attempting to persuade the Bishops Conference to soften a plan to assert tighter control over the nation's 240 church-related campuses.
    The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities said the church should recognise that the schools are governed by academic expectations and secular law and that their survival depends on continued public funding.
    In a draft issued last year, the bishops proposed to require that every university president take an oath of church fidelity, that Catholics constitute a majority of faculty members if possible, and that local bishops have the power to approve appointments of theology professors.
    The chairman of the bishops' committee, Bishop John Leibrecht said: ``We're looking for a way, agreed upon by bishops and universities and the Vatican, that will better ensure the Catholic nature of our institutions of higher education''
    Fr Joseph O'Hare of the Jesuits' Fordham University in New York City said he is optimistic that the bishops will issue a final text that educators can live with.
    In 1990, the Vatican issued a decree asserting its ultimate right to intervene in any campus dispute and declaring that colleges have academic freedom only ``within the confines of the truth and the common good.''

11:24am 20/5/99 / AP


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