Vatican City, Sep 25, 2019 / 19:55 pm
Leading American Catholic philosophers have written to the leadership of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Rome to express their concern that recent changes at the university have not properly respected the academic integrity of the institution.
“Observance in full of previously instituted procedures is part of what defines any academic institution as free in the pursuit of its mission,” leaders of the American Catholic Philosophical Association wrote in a Sept. 17 letter to both the grand chancellor and president of the John Paul II Institute.
“Without collegiality in this consultation and the involvement of governing boards and long-term faculty, the university or institute can no longer claim the imprimatur of seeking the truth. Just this loss of credibility now threatens the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family.”
The letter was signed by the 15 American academics who comprise the executive council and the executive committee of the American Catholic Philosophical Association. Among the signatories are lay and clerical professors from the Catholic University of America, Fordham University, Boston College, the University of Dallas, the University of San Francisco, and several other institutions.
The letter was written in response to changes announced this summer to the pontifical theological institute, which was founded by Pope St. John Paul II in 1980.
In July, new statutes were approved for the institute, in response to a 2017 announcement that Pope Francis would legally refound the Institute, and broaden its academic curriculum, from a focus on the theology of marriage and the family to an approach that will also include the study of the family from the perspective of the social sciences.
After the new statutes designed to implement that vision were approved, students, alumni, and faculty raised concerns about the role of faculty members in the institute’s new governing structure, about the reduction of theology courses and the elimination of some theology disciplines, and about the dismissal of some faculty members, including Msgr. Livio Melina and Fr. Jose Noriega.
Faculty members have told CNA they do not object to the pope’s desire to expand the school’s mission or approach, but say that the administrators responsible for implementing that mission have acted unfairly.