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President of refounded John Paul II Institute highlights shift in focus

March 15, 2023

Msgr. Philippe Bordeyne, president of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in Rome, discussed the shift in focus at the Institute since Pope Francis refounded it in 2017.

Msgr. Bordeyne, the Institute’s president since 2021, discussed the shift in an article for the tenth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election. The article, posted on the Institute’s website, was also published in the Vatican newspaper.

In 2017, “we were entrusted with the mission of practicing theology in dialogue with the other sciences, to enable the local Churches to better accompany families, especially those suffering from wounds, and to accompany them by ensuring that the resources of their cultures, renewed by the light of the Gospel, are enhanced,” Bordeyne wrote.

Pope Francis has invited students “to study not only the conjugal dynamics of marriage, but also the love that develops between siblings, between generations, in the extended family and in relationships of social proximity. In doing so, he has encouraged them to write theses and dissertations that start from the concrete and stimulate actions (hands),” he continued. “Taking seriously the competences of families to build more fraternal societies is a response to the urgent needs our time, as Francis expresses them in his two social encyclicals, Laudato si’ and Fratelli tutti.”

Msgr. Bordeyne also noted that Boston College theologian Richard Gaillardetz gave the inaugural address to students this academic year. Gaillardetz—one of the subjects of James Hitchcock’s 2011 article “The Failure of Liberal Catholicism“—“showed how synodality belongs to the process of a fresh reception of the Second Vatican Council,” said Bordeyne.

The Pope’s refounding of the Institute was preceded by the 2016 appointment of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia as the Institute’s Grand Chancellor and followed by the 2019 nonrenewal of contracts of the Institute’s faculty.

Ranking under the Institute’s Grand Chancellor, president, and vice president at the refounded Institute was Father Javier Belda Iniesta, the international coordinator. While remaining in his administrative positions at the Institute and at the Catholic University of Murcia (Spain), Father Belda became spokesman and canonical advocate for Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, the Argentine bishop who resigned as a diocesan bishop in August 2017, became assessor of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See in December 2017, and was convicted in 2022 of sexual abusing two seminarians.

In May 2021, the Catholic University of Murcia fired Father Belda when university officials found they were unable to confirm he had earned two of the degrees listed on his résumé. In October 2022, when asked whether Belda was still associated with the John Paul II Institute, Archbishop Paglia told a reporter that Belda had resigned from the Institute because “he had to do other things.”


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  • Posted by: clandr563181 - Mar. 18, 2023 9:41 AM ET USA

    The term "accompany", and I stand corrected if I'm wrong on this observation, seems to me to be a soft, "feelings" method of practicing our call to be charitable to those in need. I prefer the term "guide". We are to be the light of the world to guide our struggling family members, fellow parishioners, neighbors & those in most need of God's mercy out of darkness.