Much has been written about the decision to reconstitute the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in Rome. I do not believe the point has been sufficiently made that the graduates of the institute in Rome, and of those elsewhere as well, have made enormous contributions to the Church. It is possibly the most effective effort for the New Evangelization.
The fruits of the John Paul II institutes are countless. Their approach, rightly and deeply rooted in the tradition of the Church, provides at the same time a truly fresh and attractive way to address issues of sexuality, of marriage and family and of other related issues. This approach flows from an understanding that it is the dignity of the human person that undergirds the Church’s teaching on sexual morality and on social issues.
A partial but representative list of the achievements, positions and activities of graduates from the institutes in Rome and D.C.: teaching in seminaries, universities, colleges and high schools; publishing well-received scholarly books and articles in major academic journals; starting theological journals; serving as heads of religious orders and departments of the USCCB and major organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, the March for Life.
Graduates’ accomplishments also include becoming chastity speakers and authors; serving as directors of diocesan family life offices, offices of evangelization, ecumenical and interreligious outreach, and of natural family planning associations; serving as theological advisers to bishops; working as producers of documentary films, campus ministers and at Vatican News and Vatican Radio and many other social media outlets; and founding lay-led ministries for married couples, for children of divorce and for couples suffering from infertility.
In addition, many graduates are living out their vocations as parish priests, religious and as mothers and fathers. Graduates of the John Paul II Institute have also recently created a K-12 curriculum to teach the principles of the theology of the body — a curriculum that has already been accepted by several dioceses. At least one graduate is now a bishop.
Moreover, graduates fill positions such as those listed above in countries all over the world (e.g., the U.S., Canada, Cameroon, Italy, Peru, Uganda, Mexico, India, Greece, Spain and Portugal.) Indeed, there are John Paul II Institutes in eight countries: Italy, the United States, Benin, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Lebanon and the Philippines. (Institutes in Ireland and in Australia have closed.)
There is a synergy among these institutes that may unfortunately change should any one of them take on a “different direction.”
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