Press Release: Letter to Rome

September 26, 2019

PRESS RELEASE

On September 17, 2019, the American Catholic Philosophical Association sent the following letter to His Excellency Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in Rome, Italy, and Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, President of the John Paul II Institute in Rome. 

For more information concerning the ACPA and the content of the letter, contact the ACPA at acpa@stthom.edu.

The letter reads as following:

September 17, 2019

His Excellency Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia
Grand Chancellor

Reverend Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri
President

Pontificio Istituto Teologico Giovanni Paolo II
per le Scienze del Matrimonio e della Famiglia
Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, 4
00120 Città del Vaticano

Dear Archbishop Paglia and Monsignor Sequeri,

We write to you as elected members of the Executive Council and Executive Committee of the American Catholic Philosophical Association to express our deep concern about the changes of course, curriculum, and faculty at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome, changes initiated by and taking place under the auspices of the new chief officers of the Institute. These changes in the curriculum and faculty have been made in apparent disregard of the due process essential to the integrity of academic institutions.


Observance in full of previously instituted procedures is part of what defines any academic institution as free in the pursuit of its mission. 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 mission of the Institute came out of Pope John Paul II’s own pastoral work with married couples as a priest in Poland and reflects the formation needs of married persons seeking to live with the mind of the Church in our time. While the reason given for changes at the John Paul II Institute is to update its course of studies, in fact its mission as envisioned by St. John Paul II continues to be relevant to the fostering of family life amid the pressures on marriage and family in the twenty-first century. We are especially mindful of the fact that there is no other Catholic institution of higher learning in the world that has the focus the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family has had.


In contrast, there are many Catholic institutions of higher learning that foster the social sciences and advance the insights of these disciplines in relation to the Church’s mission of loving pastoral care for all people in their personal lives as sexual and communal beings. In the United States, Catholic universities contribute richly to the full range of humanistic and social science studies undertaken also in secular universities. The John Paul II Institute contributes its own voice, resonant with the Church’s long tradition of wisdom about marriage, to the on-going discussion among experts of good faith working in all these disciplines.


Now this voice of wisdom speaking freely from within the Church’s tradition is threatened by recent changes in the Institute, especially the dismissal of long-term faculty. We realize that the justification for these changes is that the Institute has been re-established with new statutes. For the reasons given at the beginning of this letter, this re-establishment presents the appearance of a lack of academic due process.


The Institute and its branches around the world have worked assiduously to gain civil accreditation in their regions. The academic integrity, high level of research, and the freedom to teach required for accreditation have been damaged by the absence of transparency, collegiality, and actual involvement of the Institute itself in the proposed changes.


We ask that the mission of the John Paul II Institute as originally constituted be reinstated and that the faculty members whose contributions have been excluded by the new statutes be restored to their positions in the Institute. Only these measures are consistent with the canons of academic freedom and the very great need for the contribution of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute to the intellectual life of the Church.


Yours in Christ,

Signatories from the Executive Committee and Executive Council of the American Catholic Philosophical Association:

Jean De Groot, PhD
President, American Catholic Philosophical Association
Ordinary Professor
School of Philosophy
The Catholic University of America

Thomas A. Cavanaugh, PhD
Vice President, American Catholic Philosophical Association
Professor of Philosophy
University of San Francisco

Steven J. Jensen, PhD
Treasurer, American Catholic Philosophical Association
Director, Center for Thomistic Studies
Bishop Wendelin J. Nold Chair in Graduate Philosophy
University of St. Thomas, Houston

Stephen Striby, PhD
Secretary, American Catholic Philosophical Association
Editor, Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association
Department of Philosophy
University of St. Thomas, Houston

Joshua P. Hochschild, PhD
Vice President-Elect, American Catholic Philosophical Association
Monsignor Robert R. Kline Professor of Philosophy
Mount St. Mary’s University

Heidi M. Giebel, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
Managing Editor, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul

Christopher Tollefsen, PhD
Chair, Department of Philosophy
College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
University of South Carolina

Rev. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., PhD
Professor of Philosophy
Fordham University

Rev. Arthur Madigan, S.J., PhD
Professor of Philosophy
Boston College

Marie I. George, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
St. John’s University, NY

Jonathan J. Sanford, PhD
University Provost and Professor of Philosophy
University of Dallas

Thomas M. Osborne Jr., PhD
Professor, Center for Thomistic Studies
Chair, Department of Philosophy
University of St. Thomas, Houston

Daniel D. De Haan, PhD
Research Fellow
Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion
Faculty of Theology and Religion
University of Oxford

Timothy Pawl, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul

Michael Pakaluk, PhD
Ordinary Professor of Ethics and Social Philosophy
Busch School of Business
The Catholic University of America

*The above endorse the contents of this letter as individuals, without any implication or preclusion of broader support from their university communities.

CC: Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Prefect, Congregation for Catholic Education
Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, Secretary, Congregation for Catholic Education
Mr. Victor Soldevilla, General Secretary, Pontificio Istituto Teologico Giovanni Paolo II per le Scienze del Matrimonio e della Famiglia




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