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.
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."
"All students were promptly informed of the news and reassured, in accordance with art. 89 of the statutes, about the three-year validity of the old curriculum. Everyone will be given the opportunity to choose between old and new systems and to draft any new plans of study."
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The faculty member said that while the Institute has told students they may continue in their preferred curriculum, changes to course offerings will make that impossible for those students who wish to continue with the Institute's traditional theological offerings.
One of the letter's organizers told CNA that, to date, 246 students and alumni have added their signatures to the letter through a website set up for that purpose. Organizers say they intend to publish the letter in the coming days.
A student at the Institute, herself among the authors of the letter, told CNA that while students received communication from the Institute's administrators before they sent their letter, they have received no response to their concerns.
"We students have expressed our reactions of pain and our request for clarification, addressing the academic authorities, to understand, to know what is going on; to express our support to the professors that have been fired overnight –and it is the time to say it, by an academic institution only because they were spiritual and cultural heirs of John Paul II, only because they believe in the teachings regarding marriage and family from Humanae vitae.
With the new order and the new statutes, we don't have changes that have been shared and agreed upon, but replacements and expulsions. We are witnesses to a true coup d'etat; it is not an integration and alignment of new courses and professors to what already exists and works, but instead the end of an era, with the expulsion of serious and thoughtful persons," she added.
J.D.Flynn served as Catholic News Agency's editor-in-chief from August 2017 to December 2020.