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Ousted JP2 Institute prof links institute’s gutting to Amazon synod

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KRAKÓW, Poland, August 27, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― A Polish professor dismissed from the John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences is convinced that the recent gutting of the institute is connected to the upcoming Synod on the Amazon.

“I’m convinced that what happened to the Institute is linked to the changes that might be introduced by the approaching Pan-Amazon Synod,” Professor Stanisław Grygiel told Hanna Nowak of Teologia Polityczna in an August 18 interview that was translated into English by Jan Franczakand and published on Polonia Christiana.  

“We might ask a question, ‘Can the Church, which has looked at man in the light of the truth revealed in Christ, also look at man on almost the same level in the light of local cultures (for example, the Amazon one) or should the Church remain in an evangelical light and preach what it can see?’” he continued.  

Grygiel was first a student of the then-Father Karol Wojtyła at the Catholic University of Lublin and in due course was the friend of Pope John Paul II. After 10 years of lecturing at a pontifical theological college in Kraków, he and his wife Ludmila moved to Rome. His academic career in Rome began in 1980, and despite being a senior figure at the Pontifical Institute for Marriage and the Family, and its replacement, the current institute founded by Pope Francis, he was dismissed from the faculty in July. 

This and other surprise changes to the Institute are, Grygiel believes, indicative of the tension between those who read Amoris laetitia in the light of the Catholic faith and those who read the Catholic faith only in the light of that tendentious papal encyclical. 

“The abolition of the John Paul II Institute became a sign that revealed the thoughts of many hearts,” he told Polonia Christiana.  

“Some professors have been removed from the Institute, some professors who read Amoris Laetitia in the light of the faith of the Church rooted in the Gospel and Tradition, and not, as Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna demanded in his discussion with Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, read the Tradition present in the teaching of the previous popes in the light of that document,” Grygiel continued. 

He suggested that both ways of understanding are important and that insisting on interpreting the faith only by contemporary realities one risks “flattering” truths for selfish reasons.  

“It is in the name of Tradition that both ways of journeying towards the truth are important in the Church,” Grygiel said. 

“As a result of reading the revealed truth about man only in the light of today’s here and now, it is very easy to descend to the level of flattering those truths that one’s career depends on.” 

There are some interpretations of Amoris laetitia that simply deny that Christ knew what he was talking about, the professor suggested. 

“When Christ says that whoever leaves his wife and lives with another woman commits adultery, no interpretation by even the cleverest theologian or minister can change the meaning of the word ‘whoever,’” Grygiel declared.  

“If we say that in this or that case someone does not commit adultery, because he is justified by this or that, it means that at the same time, we say that Christ didn’t know what he was saying, because he didn’t know what is inside a human being. He should have asked other people.”

This naturally flies in the face of Scripture, for the Gospel of John says Christ “knew all people” and didn’t have to ask for external opinions (John 2:25). To say that Christ didn’t know the human heart is to say that Christ isn’t God. 

“According to the imperious voice of today’s followers of situational ethics and pseudo-Ignatian discernment, Christ didn’t know what was hidden in every man, because, for example, He didn’t know what was hidden in the man with a clear conscience who was living in his second or third pseudo-marital union,” Grygiel said.

“(And) so Christ wasn’t God. Someone very important in the Church today has already dared to say that Christ became God only after the moment of His death.”

During the interview, Grygiel told an anecdote in which St. John Paul II approached him with a letter from a theologian who wanted him to change Catholic doctrine on marriage.  

“One evening St. John Paul II handed me a letter written to him by a well-known theologian,” he said. 

“(The saint) said, ‘Read it and tell me what you think of it,’” Grygiel continued. 

“That theologian advised John Paul II to change the ethics of marital sexual relations, because if he didn’t change it a lot of people would leave the Church. Just after reading the letter I said sharply, ‘This is stupid!’ After a moment of silence, the Pope said simply, ‘Yes, it’s true, but who will tell him that?’ Then, without a word, he went to the chapel and remained there alone.”

Grygiel said John Paul II founded the Pontifical Institute for Marriage and the Family because he knew that the fate of both the Church and the world rests on those institutions. 

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Many intellectuals were dismissed from the Institute for their reaction to the voices which were alternative to the tradition they followed. Can these events be treated as a symbolic moment, a tangible symptom of these transformations that the institutional Church is giving in to?

Yes, they can. They can and we need to treat them as such. I’m convinced that what happened to the Institute is linked to the changes that might be introduced by the approaching Pan-Amazon Synod. We might ask a question, “Can the Church, which has looked at man in the light of the truth revealed in Christ, also look at man on almost the same level in the light of local cultures (for example, the Amazon one) or should the Church remain in an evangelical light and preach what it can see?” The abolition of the John Paul II Institute became a sign that revealed the thoughts of many hearts. Some professors have been removed from the Institute, some professors who read Amoris Laetitia in the light of the faith of the Church rooted in the Gospel and Tradition, and not, as Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna demanded in his discussion with Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, read the Tradition present in the teaching of the previous popes in the light of that document. It is in the name of Tradition that both ways of journeying towards the truth are important in the Church. As a result of reading the revealed truth about man only in the light of today’s here and now, it is very easy to descend to the level of flattering those truths that one’s career depends on. When Christ says that whoever leaves his wife and lives with another woman commits adultery, no interpretation by even the cleverest theologian or minister can change the meaning of the word “whoever”. If we say that in this or that case someone does not commit adultery, because he is justified by this or that, it means that at the same time, we say that Christ didn’t know what he was saying, because he didn’t know what is inside a human being. He should have asked other people. But St. John says that Christ “knew all people” and didn’t have to ask anyone (Jn 2.25). According to the imperious voice of today’s followers of situational ethics and pseudo-Ignatian discernment, Christ didn’t know what was hidden in every man, because for example, He didn’t know what was hidden in the man with a clear conscience who was living in his second or third pseudo-marital union … So Christ wasn’t God. Someone very important in the Church today has already dared to say that Christ became God only after the moment of His death.

August 29, 2019 correction: An earlier version of this report stated that Grygiel made his comments to Polonia Christiana’s Hanna Nowak whereas they were made to Teologia Polityczna's Hanna Nowak.  This has now been corrected. 

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