The July 29 press release acknowledged that while a chair of fundamental moral theology at the school will no longer exist, changes made to the institute’s curriculum are intended to ensure that “moral doctrine of marriage and family,” and “theological ethics of life,” remain a part of the institute’s coursework.
Fundamental moral theology is already required in the “first cycle” of theological studies required for admission to the Institute’s graduate programs, the press release said.
But a professor at the Institute told CNA that scholarship in the field of fundamental moral theology has been a long-standing part of the school’s identity, and that other subjects also covered in the first cycle, such as Christian anthropology, remain a part of the Institute’s curriculum.
The professor, noting that Humanae vitae is not expressly mentioned in the Institute’s new statutes, said that the school’s chair of fundamental moral theology was established at the Institute’s inception, at the insistence of the school’s founder, Pope St. John Paul II.
“It is important to know that in the old statutes of 2011, based on a few words from Ratzinger about the Institute's contribution to fundamental moral theology, explicit mention of fundamental moral theology was included,” the professor added.
Regarding concerns raised about faculty dismissals, the press release said that because of its partnership with the Pontifical Lateran University, the Institute has reduced its number of course offerings, and therefore not retained some professors, “according to a policy of consistency and economy.”
Some professors may be eligible for rehire, according to the future faculty needs of the Institute, the press release said.
Among those no longer included among the Institute’s permanent faculty is Monsignor Livio Melina, who held a chair in fundamental moral theology and served as the Institute’s long-time president. The press release said that Melina would no longer hold a permanent faculty position because the chair in moral theology “no longer exists.”
Also dismissed is Fr. Jose Noriega, DCJM, a professor of moral theology at the institute.
Noriega is the superior general of the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a Spanish religious community of 24 professed members. The press release said that Noriega could not continue on the faculty because of a provision in canon law which forbids holding two ecclesiastical positions which are “incompatible.”
Noreiga’s term as superior general of the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary ends in January 2020.
Noriega has served as superior for 12 years. The priest told CNA that during his years as superior, including three years under the Institute’s current administration, the issue has not been raised to him by anyone at the Institute.
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Noriega also said that there is no proof that his faculty position is “incompatible” with a leadership position in his religious community. He noted that during the time he has held both positions, he also served as editorial director of the Institute.
The press release took issue with reports that a new hiring process will be centralized in the office of the Institute’s Grand Chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, noting that “the appointment of new permanent teachers must be done through an open competition.”
Such a competition, according to the statutes, is judged by a commission constituted by the institute’s president, a faculty member, and an external member nominated by the Grand Chancellor or a vice-chancellor. Tenured faculty members can veto the commission’s decision by a two-thirds majority.
The faculty member told CNA that because the chancellor appoints the Institute’s president, the composition of faculty hiring commissions remains subject to his influence and control, noting that only one member of hiring commissions, the one appointed by the faculty, would have independence from the administration’s preferences and intentions.
“Analysis of the statutes shows that the concentration of power in the hands of the Grand Chancellor is true,” the professor told CNA.
The June 29 statement also disputed reports that 150 students had signed expressing concern about the direction of the school. The statement said that only a few representatives of the students had signed the letter, which “asked for explanations about the innovations taking place.”