Pope Francis will open the academic year at the John Paul II Institute in Rome, in a schedule change that will see him replace Cardinal Sarah.
The news of the pontiff’s substitution for Sarah comes just weeks after Francis chose Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia and Mgr Pierangelo Sequeri to head the institute, whose full name is the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.
The selection of Archbishop Paglia and Mgr Sequeri as the new grand chancellor and president of the institute proved controversial. Critics suggest that the pair possess ideas on marriage and the family that go against the approach which the institute has traditionally upheld. The commentator Philip Lawler asked “whether Pope Francis is deliberately moving away from the teachings of St John Paul II on marriage, family, and life.”
Archbishop Paglia has given his support to the Kasper proposal – a scheme floated by Cardinal Walter Kasper that would allow remarried divorcees to receive Communion. The proposal was dropped after many bishops argued that it was contradictory to magisterial teaching, as expressed in documents such as John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio.
The replacement of Cardinal Sarah in the inauguration ceremony on October 27 is likely to be interpreted as a knock-back for Cardinal Sarah. In July, the cardinal asked priests to make a special effort to say Mass ad orientem – a request which the Vatican quickly discouraged.
The institute will celebrate its 35th anniversary in November. There are currently 13 locations around the world.
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