Suspensions and dismissals as part of the destruction of John Paul II Institute

ROME, July 24, 2019 LifeSiteNews:

In what critics see as an attack on the Catholic Church’s moral teaching, the successor of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra at the Institute on Marriage and family founded by John Paul II has been dismissed and the institute’s course  on fundamental and specialized moral theology has been eliminated.

Monsignor Livio Melina, who holds the Chair of Fundamental Moral Theology, along with Father José Noriega, who holds the Chair of Specialized Moral Theology, will no longer be teaching at the Institute in the autumn. The fate of other professors who also uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage and family is still unknown.

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Mgr. Livio Melina Steve Jalsevac/LifeSiteNews

The Italian Catholic agency, La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, has today reported that on Monday, following the approval of the new statutes of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family, all of the professors received a letter in which they were officially suspended, pending decisions regarding courses for the upcoming academic year and respective teachers.

Reportedly, the letter also informed professors that everyone would know their fate within a few days. While most of the professors are expected to be reconfirmed, the axe came down on the two men who most symbolize the John Paul II era: Monsignor Livio Melina and Father José Noriega.

This coup has been carried out under the direction of the Institute’s new Grand Chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, and is aimed at implementing Pope Francis’s 2016 decree, Summa familiae cura, establishing a new institute. The decree, published in September 2016, was issued just days after the death of Cardinal Caffarra.

Dismissing Msgr. Melina

In his article for La Nuova Bussola, editor-in-chief Riccardo Cascioli highlighted the significance of the dismissal of Monsignor Livio Melina, the successor of the John Paul II Institute’s founding president, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra. In the letter he received on Monday, Msgr. Melina was informed that the teaching of fundamental moral theology has been eliminated in the new statutes, and that there was therefore no teaching position for him.

Highlighting the increasingly important role Msgr. Melina played in the expansion and growth of the JPII Institute, Cascioli notes that Melina entered the institute as a student at the time of its foundation in 1982 and, in 1985, was the first student to obtain the doctorate.

Melina also served as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for six years, and successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on “Moral Conscience in St. Thomas Aquinas” with then-prefect Cardinal Josef Ratzinger in attendance.

In 1986, Msgr. Melina began teaching fundamental moral theology at the JPII Institute and in 1991 became a tenured professor, succeeding Cardinal Caffarra as chair of the department. In 2002, he was appointed vice-president of the Institute. Msgr. Melina has served as President of the John Paul II Institute since 2006, a post he held until 2016. Around the two family synods and publication of Amoris Laetitia, Melina was replaced by Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri, a musicologist and theologian.

Cascioli also notes that the decade of Msgr. Melina’s presidency was a time of “maximum expansion” for the Institute. In its last year, the institute had 516 students in Rome and 3,200 students across the world in the six centers. Research at the institute also experienced significant growth under Msgr. Melina, particularly in moral theology, through conferences, publications and international collaboration. Research in sacramental theology and the thought of John Paul II also expanded, with the Wojtyła Chair entrusted to Polish philosopher Stanislaw Grygiel, who was a great friend of the Polish Pope.

Msgr. Melina continued to teach moral theology at the Institute after his dismissal as president but “his days were clearly numbered,” Cascioli writes. “It was clear that he was the pillar that had to be knocked out to bring down the whole structure.”

“The work of destruction, begun with the [decree] of Pope Francis who created a new institute entrusted to Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia in the role of Grand Chancellor, is now in a decisive phase with the approval of the new statutes and the new curriculum,” Casioli adds.

The new statutes

Archbishop Paglia and Monsignor Sequeri consulted the Institute’s professors and led them to believe that their revision to the former statutes, which they submitted in March 2019, would be taken into consideration. After keeping the professors waiting for four months without news, Archbishop Paglia published his own version of the new statutes, which he already tried to impose in June 2018 but the professors rebelled. This procedure is therefore being viewed by some as a “totalitarian imposition” of the new statutes.

The new statutes (art 5, 25-39) also give an unheard-of-amount of power to the Archbishop as Grand Chancellor. In other pontifical universities, the Grand Chancellor has more of a formal role. According to the new statutes, Paglia has power to hire and fire professors, to name the president and vice-president. It also makes him omni-present in all of the internal structures of the Institute, even though his curriculum vitae reveals he does not even hold a doctorate.

Regarding the content of the courses at the new institute: the statutes have eliminated the five Master programs that had been offered at the institute: Master in Bioethics, in Sexuality and Fertility, in Family counselling, in family pastoral work and in studies on Marriage and the Family. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, catechists and teachers had graduated from these programs.

The licentiate and doctoral programs have been retained, but there is no explicit reference in the statutes to John Paul II, the Theology of the Body, or Humanae Vitae.

Article 89 of the statutes stipulates that the period of transition for the new study-program will be three years. The new and old program will therefore co-exist for the next three years, but without the benefit of Msgr. Melina, Fr. Noriega, and possibly other orthodox and qualified faculty.

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5 Responses to Suspensions and dismissals as part of the destruction of John Paul II Institute

  1. The Catholic Church is not pure. The Catholic Church is not simple.

  2. mmvc says:

    Sallyball, you’ve made a similar point before and I will try once more to address it.

    Firstly – as it appears that you are alluding to our blog title – “Catholicism Pure and Simple” refers to our aim of remaining faithful to Catholic teaching at all times.

    On the broader question of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, here are a few excerpts from a longer article:

    “The Church contains sinners. But she does not contain sin. It is only in virtue of what remains pure and holy in them that sinners belong to her—that is to say in virtue of the sacramental characters of Baptism and Confirmation, and of the theological habits of faith and hope if they still have them. That is the part of their being by which they still cleave to the Church and are still within her. But in virtue of the mortal sin which has found its way into them and fills their hearts, they belong chiefly to the world and to the devil. “He who commits sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

    Thus, the frontier of the Church passes through each one of those who call themselves her members, enclosing within her bounds all that is pure and holy, leaving outside all that is sin and stain…. So that even here below, in the days of her pilgrimage, in the midst of the evil and sin at war in each one of her children, the Church herself remains immaculate; and we can apply to her quite fully and without any restriction the passage of the Epistle to the Ephesians (5:25-28).”

    “We must be faithful to the Church even when Her hierarchy, through a mysterious divine permission, is failing so dramatically. Her infallibility is by no means in doubt, nor is the promise of Christ that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her.” However, this promise does not mean there will not be times of darkness. If the Son of God Himself endured death and the sepulcher, how would His Spouse not be called to undergo a similar or rather analogous trial?… What mysterious trials of annihilation still await Her? We cannot know what they will be in detail, but what we can know with certainty is that these trials will come. And we can even say they have already started.”

  3. I once asked a priest if he was born again, and he almost kicked me out of his office…..anyway, thanks for the lengthy explanation.

  4. mmvc says:

    You’re welcome, sallyball.
    I hope it helped.

  5. Mary Anne says:

    Hello Sally, just wondering what your spiritual garden looks like. Do you have images of holy saints, Our Lady, A crucifix? I have a shrine in my living room with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He said “ I will bless every place where my image is exposed and honored.” He sure does.

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