More than 150 students at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Rome have signed a letter saying that newly approved statutes will undermine the institute’s mission and identity.

“We want to express our greatest concern: the loss of the formational approach, and therefore, of the identity of the Pontifical Theological Institute John Paul II,” the students wrote in their July 24 letter, which was sent to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the institute’s grand chancellor, and Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, its president.

“Many students have expressed their immense concern after the unexpected publication of the new statutes and the new program of studies for our new Institute, together with the sad news of the expulsion of two professors whose chairs have a central role in the formation offered by the institute,” they added.

The letter was sent soon after the approval of new statutes for the Institute, two years after Pope Francis announced that he would reestablish the school, broadening its focus on theology to include the “science of the family.”

A faculty member at the Institute expressed concern to CNA that the new statutes concentrate the hiring of faculty and development of curriculum in the chancellor’s office, now occupied by Paglia.

The faculty member said that tenured professors will no longer be involved in the search for new faculty members, and will only be able to stop a new hire with a two-thirds majority vote. This, the professor said, will be “practically impossible” because of faculty appointment recently made at the institute.

The professor said that when the Pontifical John Paul II Institute was founded, it had been especially important to then-Pope John Paul II that tenured professors consent to new faculty appointments, “to secure the continuity of the Institute’s identity.”

The professor also confirmed that the Institute’s faculty chair of moral theology will be eliminated, an idea he called “inconceivable.”

Among new faculty members appointed to teach at the university is Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, who argued in 2018 that the use of artificial contraception could, in some cases, “be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child but because in those situations, responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.