“Among the chairs there are at least two other subjects (theological anthropology, fundamental theology) that are offered in the first cycle, and they do not seem to create problems. In addition, it is known that a chair of a general nature, when given at an upper level, is not limited to repeating what has been learned in the first cycle. It is about deepening different aspects, as you can see from the courses offered by Melina in recent years. Melina has deepened concrete aspects of fundamental moral theology to illuminate from the morality of marriage, sexuality, and the family.”
Granados noted that concern about offering fundamental moral theology had not previously been raised in the 38 years the subject has been taught at the John Paul II Institute.
“The reason given can only be explained, then, as a smokescreen. The true and sad reason? Is it not that Melina...has remained faithful to Humanae vitae and Veritatis splendor, and the chair is eliminated in order to eliminate Melina?”
Granados also discussed the dismissal of Father Jose Noriega, DCJM the Institute’s chair of specialized moral theology.
On July 29, the Institute said that Noriega was being dismissed because his position as superior of his small religious community is “incompatible” with his duties as a professor, and therefore prohibited by canon law.
Canon law “prohibits only the assumption of two incompatible charges...Are they incompatible in this case, when Fr. Noriega’s religious community has only 24 full members? The answer requires a prudential consideration. And the two people who were responsible for doing so, that is, the two previous presidents of the Institute, Melina and Sequeri, did not judge the two responsibilities incompatible, since they allowed Noriega to teach for 12 years, with his status as superior being public and well-known,” Granados told CNA.
“Finally, Fr. Noriega ends his position as superior general within five months, something [the Institute’s Grand Chancellor] Archbishop Paglia and Msgr. Sequeri already know.”
“If the problem is incompatibility, and his work is appreciated, why do they not now grant something provided in the regulations of the curia, a six month leave, and thus eliminate the problem? If this is not done, what other explanation remains, but that it is an excuse to be able to dismiss the chair of love and marriage, and get rid of the person in charge of the Institute's publications? Is it perhaps Noriega’s favorability to Humanae vitae and Veritatis splendor?”
“The two cases are very serious in an academic institution. Were there doctrinal problems in the teaching of these teachers? As students can testify, and an analysis of their writings would show, they have always been excellent in their respect for the Magisterium, including, of course, that of Pope Francis.”
“Explaining the teaching of the pope in continuity with the previous popes is not only something essential to every Catholic hermeneutic, but something promoted by the pope himself. And in any case, if one thought, in spite of everything, that there were doctrinal problems in their teachings, why are they not judged and given the possibility of defending themselves?” Granados asked.
“Well, if this abuse is allowed, the academic freedom of all teachers is threatened. We are all facing the same problem: we could be expelled, not because we deny the doctrine of faith, which would be fair, but for following theological lines that university authorities dislike. From this point of view all of us who have a university chair can say: ‘I am Melina and Noriega.’”
“We should all be alarmed by this arbitrary exercise of power over the nature of university work: the argumentative discussion in a common search for truth. And what will be thought of this way of proceeding in the European academic community?” the priest asked.
Granados expressed concern that several Polish members of the faculty will see their course offerings limited, a decision which, he said, will weaken the university’s connection to the Polish Pope St. John Paul II. He also lamented the dismissal of Professor Maria Luisa di Pietro, whose bioethical approach, he said, resembled closely the approach of John Paul II. Granados also noted that fewer courses will be offered in the anthropology of love, a subject important to the late pope, and mentioned that Stanislaw Grygiel, a personal friend of John Paul II who holds the university’s Wojtyla chair, has been told that he will not regularly offer classes at the Institute.
The priest added that there is concern among students and faculty about what professors will soon be appointed to the faculty.
“Rumors now circulate that Professor Maurizio Chiodi will come to teach, who opens himself up to the lawfulness of contraception and accepts homosexual acts as ‘possible’ in some situations. If new stable professors are promoted along the same lines, without following normal procedures, claiming an ‘urgency” for which no reason is given, a great tension would be created within the Institute,” Granados said.
“With the powers that the Grand Chancellor now has, and the intentions that he reveals when dispensing with Melina and Noriega, it will be a matter of time to replace the teaching staff with another alien to the vision of St. John Paul II. For the great Polish pope at the center was always the faithfulness of the Church to the flesh of Christ, which assumes in itself the project of the Creator, and thus can heal the wounds and frailties of man,” he added.
Granados told CNA that “the students have detected the serious problems of which I have spoken.” Discussing a letter sent by students July 25 to Paglia and Sequeri, he said that “with their common, respectful and courageous action, our students testify to their appreciation for the Institute, because they have found a communion of teachers and students where great questions were raised and the truth of love could be sought.”
“Thus, horizons of greatness and a fruitful path have been opened to them in their pastoral ministry with families. The letter explains itself and includes the reasons for its fear that the identity St. John Paul II wanted to give to the Institute founded by him and entrusted to the protection of the Virgin of Fatima would not be preserved.”
Despite his concerns, Granados told CNA that he believes it is still possible for the Institute’s administrators to achieve Pope Francis’ vision for a fruitful and collaborative approach to renewing the Institute.
“For three years we have worked toward that end with Msgr. Sequeri. He can testify that it has been a cordial and fruitful relationship. We found an approach to renewal that respected the mission of the Institute, for a new fruitfulness that included the heritage of our founder and the rich Catholic tradition. Many times Msgr. Sequeri assured me that we didn't have to fear rumors of layoffs. And that the collegial work of teachers would be respected.”
“Inexplicably, in the end, by surprise, the opposite has happened, with great harm to the Institute and to teachers and students. Is it possible to return to that constructive path? Archbishop Paglia and Msgr. Sequeri know that teachers and students are willing, as they have already shown. But it is necessary to retrace the wrong steps. The first obstacle that must be removed is to restore to the faculty the teachers who have been dismissed. Nothing solid is built upon the unfair dismissal of colleagues esteemed throughout the academic community, not just at the Institute, but in the entire Catholic university world,” he added.
Granados said he hopes that a more fruitful renewal will be achieved, because he believes that the mission of the John Paul II Institute is important to the Church’s mission.
“John Paul II had a great intuition that came from his life experience. ‘As a young priest,’ he wrote, ‘I learned to love human love.’ It was his work with young couples that allowed him to discover that the family is the way of the Church. For there the basic experiences that Christ assumed, redeemed, fulfilled are cultivated.”
“To recover these original experiences, whose loss is the great misery of today's man, John Paul II understood that it was necessary to illuminate the truth of love. He founded the Institute as an academic community that could investigate this truth of love, based on God's plan for marriage and family.”
“For the light for our night does not come primarily from an analysis of man's problems, but from considering something more original: the gift that God has given to man and the Church in each marriage and in each family. Here is included the intuition of mercy, which Pope Francis has promoted so much: God's first mercy for man has been to give him a family and to save the family, because from there it is possible to rebuild the whole subject human and restore the ability to act,” Granados added.
“Precisely at this point is also the importance of morality, which the Institute has cultivated from the light of love, as a way to fulfill our vocation to love, and as the ability to achieve a beautiful and full life. As in this way of love it is essential to recover the language of the body, John Paul II entrusted to the Institute his Catechesis about human love, where he outlined a theology of the body that has continued to develop in these years with great fruitfulness.”
In the “theology of the body,” Granados said, Pope St. John Paul II “calls us to truly reread the language of the body, a language inscribed in us by the Creator, and which is based on the sexual difference of man and woman open to life. From this anthropological unitary vision, a faculty has been cultivated and enriched, expanded across all continents in different sections, where the study of each discipline enriches the others, avoiding that fragmentation so typical of university work today. The sharp break we observe these days, blurring the memory of this living tradition, which is preserved especially in people, endangers this rich heritage,” the priest concluded.
“The work of the Institute and its fruit has been enormous, and can be seen in the number of trained students (priests, laity, families) who work in teaching and in family pastoral care; of conferences to which so many specialists have been invited from different disciplines; of luminous publications for pastoral ministers; of concrete pastoral initiatives to help families, bringing, like the Good Samaritan, oil for their wounds and the wine of the joy of their vocation to love.”