By Christopher Wells
In view of ongoing controversy surrounding the renewal of the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Science, the Institute has published a statement explaining some of the decisions, but rejecting accusations, which it said were based on information that was “distorted, factious, sometimes in bad faith.” The statement also noted that some reports failed to seek verification of the story from the source.
In a letter to the President of the Institute, Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri, and copied to the Grand Chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, some students and former students had expressed their concerns about the direction of the John Paul II Institute. Specifically, they questioned the elimination of core courses in Fundamental and Special Moral Theology, and the decision to remove long-time professors at the Institute. This has given rise to doubts about whether the Institute will continue to remain faithful to John Paul II’s vision for the Institute, and about whether they will be able to continue in their original course of studies.
Support for project of renewal
Other students, however, have communicated their support for the renewal. Monsignor Sequeri, in an interview with Vatican News, said some students “have already written expressing confidence in the renewal and expansion of research and formation in the theological-pastoral and anthropological-cultural fields.” He said the Institute is already in communication with those who have legitimate requests for information.
Faithful to the vision of John Paul II
Monsignor Sequeri said that the renewal of the Institute “responds to the great impulse of Pope Francis, who from the beginning has encouraged the Institute to equip itself with all the instruments necessary to fulfill the mission that was entrusted to it in its creation by John Paul II, in the new context in which the Church lives out its bonds of love in the transmission of human life and of the Christian faith, which pertain to matrimony and to the family, according to the design of God.” He insisted that the project of renewal will remain scrupulously faithful to the “transparent and profound adhesion to the riches of the Catholic tradition and the authoritative Magisterium.”
He said that involves not only a greater emphasis in the field of human sciences, but also a deepening of the theological and pastoral aspects of marriage and family life. Critics, Msgr Sequeri said, are pursuing their own interests, which are not those of John Paul II, of Pope Francis, or of the Institute.
Love must banish fear
Monsignor Sequeri said he hopes that, when the full import of the project of renewal appears, it will show its “constructive character and the revitalization of the inspiration” that founded the Institute. “Love must banish fear,” he said, “communion must overcome distrust, and the beauty of the common cause must prevail over personal interests.”