Why what we do matters
In an ideal world the work of the Wijngaards Institute would be carried out within that wonderful galaxy of educational and research institutions that Catholics throughout history have set up. Sadly, this is only rarely the case. Many Catholic authorities – bishops, educational institutions, individual theologians – are reluctant to allow free public discussion concerning some of those issues, for fear of antagonizing the Vatican or undermining their careers and even jobs.
As long as this situation persists there will be a need for institutes such as ours. Wijngaards Institute is a private educational charity, and can therefore maintain full independence from external pressures. This has made it possible for us to build vast online libraries of high quality academic research on precisely those issues which are the least openly discussed in the Catholic Church.
We believe that if a teaching is sound, it can only be strengthened by exposure to the relevant scriptural and historical evidence as well as theological arguments, even and indeed especially when it appears to go against present-day Catholic beliefs. Our websites provide both the academic research which should inform those discussions, and a first-class online forum to facilitate that discussion.
We cannot stress enough how timely what we are doing is. Since the election of Pope Francis in 2013, the Catholic Church has been gently encouraged to pick up the critical self-examination started with the Second Vatican Council. But unless Catholics deepen their knowledge of theology, the task of purifying their tradition will be severely hindered. This is what we have been working towards for more than 30 years now, and with your help we will continue to do so for many more years.
I have just come across your website. What a wonderful and fine collection of documents, articles, and testimonies! And I like your sense of humour. Your illustrations make me smile. I also feel deeply moved because I have gone through a long spiritual search myself. I even wandered off into Buddhism. Now I am back in the Church but determined to help bring about the so necessary reforms!
Stefanella, Florence, Italy (translated from Italian).
I recently obtained my doctorate in physics — and I also became a Catholic. The information you provided on God in the modern world on www.mysteryandbeyond.org was very helpful to me. Thank you!
Hildegard, München (translated from German).
I was 11 years old in 1945. Around me I saw hatred, violence, destruction… I asked myself: Why all this suffering? Why do we live? Does God exist? My mother told me that such questions were pointless… But when I found religion, I became a daily mass-goer. I truly met God. The desire to become a priest grew in me. I wanted to give my life for God, to celebrate Mass, to preach about him, to carry him to sick people. I was shocked to be told that, as a woman, I could not be a priest… I became a pastoral worker and have been looking after parishes for over three decades. Your texts give me hope. How can I help?
Véronique, Toulon, France (translated from French).
I was studying for the priesthood and, for some years, have publicly expressed my support for reform in the Church. Unfortunately the bishop of my diocese now refuses to ordain me saying my ideas are ‘dangerous’. I feel lost and sad. Freedom of expression certainly has its cost in the Church. For I would really want to be a priest. Please, don’t give up!
Carlos, Bolivia (translated from Spanish).
My wife and I are grateful to you for what you say about the Christian enjoyment of sex. We are both from traditional Catholic families and, I don’t know why, sex always makes us feel guilty. People often say that our world has become sex mad. For many in the Church it is just the opposite: sex is tainted with dirt, sin, guilt.