I write to express my shock and dismay at recent developments at the John Paul Institute, doing so as a lifelong Catholic educator who have taught in and administered our academic institutions at every level: primary, secondary, university, seminary.
Aside from serious theological concerns (which have been repeated in many forums), I want to say that the draconian method of re-fashioning the Institute is amazing, especially as it happens in the 21st century. If I had terminated a faculty member in this manner, I would have had a faculty revolt on my hands, along with terrible media coverage, and the rising up of academics all over the country — even from academics normally hostile to the Church, because of the lack of professionalism, the violation of the rights of the professors, and the clear assault on academic freedom. As a result of a such a storm, the faculty would have been restored and I would have been terminated!
The Church of Francis’ “transparency” cannot afford to operate in the shadows. Nor can the Church afford to be seen using methods we thought had been consigned to the bins of a less enlightened age. It is ironic that John Paul — champion of orthodoxy — never used such methods in dealing with professors he believed to be erroneous in various ways. He believed that the proper way to handle alternate positions in academia is through the honest process of give-and-take.
One final consideration: It is no secret that the reason John Paul founded the Institute — and the reason for its success — has been due to its unflagging orthodoxy. It is equally clear that the direction the Institute appears to be taking is not highly orthodox. If that is the case, I can assure you all that the Institute will be forced to close due to lack of support from potential students and from bishops (who have sent students in the past). I would hope that other issues would control the resolution of this unfortunate conflict, but the financial question should not be forgotten.
I would be happy to discuss my concerns further with anyone disposed to do so.
Father Peter Stravinskas