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Nearly 200 professors from around the world have signed an open letter to the heads of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute expressing their “great concern” about the recent removals of two long-serving professors at the graduate school, and imploring that they be reinstated.

The signatories, comprising a number of well-known Catholic academics, wrote in the Aug. 20 letter they “do not see any convincing reason, whether of a scientific-academic nature or of a doctrinal or disciplinary nature, that would justify their removal from their positions.”

The letter concerned the removals of Msgr. Livio Melina, a former president of the John Paul II Institute, and Father José Noriega, a moral theologian, who were notified in a July 23 letter that they were to be deprived of their tenured positions at the new institute following the promulgation of new statutes published on July 18.

The missive was addressed to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, grand chancellor of the institute, and Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, the institute’s president,

Msgr. Melina was removed after being told the institute was eliminating the Chair of Fundamental Moral Theology which he held, and which had been set up personally by Pope St. John Paul II. Father Noriega was told his position as general superior of his religious congregation was incompatible with the position of a tenured professor at the new Institute.

Neither of the two professors received prior notification of their removals, nor were they given the opportunity to defend themselves or challenge the decision. Seven other professors were also later removed from their teaching positions.

In their open letter, the signatories implored Archbishop Paglia and Msgr. Sequeri “to revoke this decision and to reinstate” Msgr. Melina and Father Noriega so that the graduate school “may maintain its high academic profile and its international prestige.”

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