The dispute over the fate of the John Paul II Institute has escalated, after 49 scholars objected to the changes.
The institute, founded by the Polish pope to study marriage and family, has been officially re-founded with new statutes. Its curriculum has been overhauled, and several professors are being removed from the staff. The chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, has gained new powers.
In 2017, Pope Francis set aside the institute’s rules to appoint Archbishop Paglia.
What the letter said
The signatories included well-known scholars such as the political philosopher Harvey Mansfield of Harvard, and the Australian theologian Tracey Rowland, a member of the International Theological Commission. They are all contributors to a recent academic textbook, the Dictionary of Sex, Love and Fertility, edited by one of the professors being removed from the institute, Fr José Noriega.” The scholars praised Fr Noriega and half a dozen others as “scholars of outstanding international reputation”.
“We cannot see any convincing reason – academic, doctrinal or disciplinary – which justifies their dismissal,” the letter writers said, adding that the institute’s “international reputation” was at stake. The institute promised a response, but had given none at the time of going to press.
What Catholic newspapers said
The editors of the National Catholic Register said the dispute went back to the 2014-15 family synods, and Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia – “which made no mention of Pope John Paul’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor. Amid calls for a new paradigm of pastoral accompaniment, some have concluded that adherence to the moral law on marriage and sexual relations should be framed as an ‘ideal’, rather than a necessary precondition for reception of the Eucharist.” But John Paul’s teachings were in accord with Catholic tradition, the editorial said.
It was “beyond ludicrous” to suppose those teachings were now outdated. In Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops, Luciano Moia defended the changes, saying the professors who were being removed had put doctrine before pastoral care.
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