More than 250 students and alumni of Rome's John Paul II Institute have signed a letter expressing their concern about the school's new statutes, and the dismissal of Noriega and Melina. In several letters, scholars from academic institutions around the globe have also raised concerns about the dismissal of the faculty members and the revision process at the institute.
Granados' Aug. 27 letter emphasized support for Pope Francis' desire to broaden the institute's approach to studying marriage and family. The pope's 2017 motu proprio announcing changes at the institute was "received loyally by the whole community of our institute," the letter said.
The letter said that faculty members of the institute had eagerly worked with Paglia and Sequierra on a plan to implement the pope's vision.
"Our surprise was great, when we saw that, in approving the new statutes, the actual interpretation of the motu proprio was contrary to the one that was continually offered to us."
"Instead, we must note that the motu proprio was used as a legal excuse to make changes within the Institute without respecting discussion among the teaching faculty, normal in an academic institution. In this way it was even possible to deprive two of our ordinary professors of their professorships, which is unheard of in academic circles," the letter said.
The result of the recent controversy, the letter said, is "a shadow of suspicion" on the John Paul II Institute and "the other university centers of the Catholic Church."
Granados and the other professors said they believe that a compromise would help the institute to resume "carrying out its mission with the excellence it has already shown."
The letter did, however, add an additional caveat to the proposed compromise:
"Certainly, the acceptance of this proposal must necessarily be combined with the reestablishment of Professor José Noriega's chair," the letter said, regarding a second faculty member whose dismissal was announced in July.
"His service to the institute for over 18 years has been greatly enriching, as recognized by internal and external colleagues...His failure to take up his position in the new institute is a wound to the freedom of the chair, which must be corrected so that the institute recovers its academic dignity."
The letter's authors acknowledge that their proposal "will require the revision of the statutes by the Congregation for Catholic Education. This revision is, among other things, a must, and we ask that it be carried out in an exhaustive manner."
"The statutes, in fact, contain objective difficulties, which concern the joint work of an interdisciplinary institute. The cause of these deficiencies lies partly in the fact that there was no real consultation process, neither with the professors of the central office, nor with the authorities of the international council, as the documents presented for an opinion were other than those with whom we actually worked with the Congregation for Catholic Education," the letter said.
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