In 1999, the U.S. bishops approved a document specifying how they would implement [John Paul II's] "Ex Corde Ecclesiae" and, specifically, how they would define the "mandatum" -- or church authorization granted by the local bishop to teach theology. The document was confirmed by the Vatican in 2000.
"Much of the heat has dissipated" on "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," said Richard Yanikoski, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Washington.
He speculated that Pope Benedict might "reiterate the central thesis" of the document but with an emphasis on progress made by colleges and the growing secular changes they face. Yanikoski noted that campuses today are not the same as they were 20 years ago, because they focus on global issues and international students make up a larger percentage of the student body.
He said the fact that the pope is not planning to address parish religious educators in this gathering might indicate that he means to narrow his focus solely on the "positive contributions" Catholic schools makes to the church and society.
Yanikoski noted that the pope's address is scheduled for television broadcast, and said that suggests the pope "has a larger audience in mind" and will most likely give a "positive, inclusive statement."
He said Catholic college presidents have expressed regret they will not have an opportunity for dialogue with the pope, but they also understand the pontiff's tight schedule during his U.S. visit.