Vatican City, Jul 30, 2019 / 12:37 pm
The president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute said Tuesday that despite recently published objections from students and alumni, he believes changes at the school are a move in the right direction.
Speaking July 30 to Vatican News, Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri aimed to respond to a recently published letter, signed online by more than 250 students and alumni of the Institute, expressing concern about the dismissal of some faculty members, about new norms for governance and administration, and about shifts to the school’s curriculum, which will soon eliminate a chair in fundamental moral theology amid a new focus on the social sciences.
“We want to express our greatest concern: the loss of the formational approach, and therefore, of the identity of the Pontifical Theological Institute John Paul II,” the student letter, dated July 24, said.
“Many students have expressed their immense concern after the unexpected publication of the new statutes and the new program of studies for our new Institute, together with the sad news of the expulsion of two professors whose chairs have a central role in the formation offered by the institute," the students added.
Sequeri said that a change to the Institute’s curriculum and direction, called for by Pope Francis in 2017, and delineated explicitly in recently approved statutes, “responds to the great impulse of Pope Francis, who encouraged the Institute from the outset to equip itself with all the tools necessary to fulfill the mission entrusted to it since its creation of John Paul II, in the new context in which the Church lives its bonds of love in the context of the transmission of human life and of the Christian faith that pertain to marriage and the family, according to God's plan.”
“New tools mean instruments of knowledge: not only in the sphere of the so-called sciences and human rights, but also theological and pastoral studies, which must more closely be united to one another. New tools also mean adequate resources for updated information and practical training (international considerations, pastoral counseling, comparative law, family mediation, etc.). The meticulousness in the transparent and deep adherence to the richness of Catholic tradition and the authoritative magisterium, however, obviously does not represent an innovation,” he said.
Regarding the concerns of students and alumni, Sequeri said he had only been recently notified of “the arrival of a letter, signed by several dozens of ‘students and former students’ (we have had thousands, of course) which expresses concern about the possibility of losing the solid training guaranteed by the Institute and about their uncertainty concerning the passage and coordination of the new teachings.”
Its organizers say the letter was sent by email on July 25 to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the institute’s grand chancellor, and to Sequeri, and by registered mail on July 26.