Can Massimo Introvigne
call himself "Professor"?

Titles are not important for us. Especially when dealing with a topic as hard to pin down as research on so-called "cults." However, they are important for CESNUR director Massimo Introvigne, who in the past regularly employed the titles of "Professor" and "sociologist". This might have been a rather amusing personal knack; the real problem, however, lies in the fact that Introvigne denies even former members of groups the right to speak because they "lack proper academic credentials".

As soon as Massimo Introvigne got word of the fact that we wanted to discuss his titles, he sent a threatening letter (by the way to the wrong person, Martini, the author of a critical site on Scientology, probably confused by how similar "Martini" and "Martínez" sound) where, among other things, he wrote:

Dear Mr Martini,

According to you and some of your correspondents, I am supposed to be guilty of “false claims” since I call myself a “professor” and “sociologist”, without being one. Actually, I use such titles sparingly and modestly. However, I do not make false claims.

Concerning the title of “professor”, and not to mention previous experience, please refer to the current edition of the book of the Roman Pontifical Athenaea, “Catalogo dei professori e dei docenti”, Comitato dei Segretari Generali dei Pontifici Atenei Romani, Roma 1996, for example p. 91 and p. 207. The fact that my lessons are usually concentrated in one week - due to my other professional engagements - and not spread out at one hour every seven or fifteen days frankly does not seem to me to make a difference.

As I said, I do not believe debating over Usenet to be suitable. This is why I am sending this text only to a few friends (who are free, if they want, to circulate it) and I shall not reply to any counter-replies except - as usual - when the matter is of penal relevance, and with reference to this, I warn you and your near-namesake Mr Martinez and your other courteous correspondents not to spread libellous texts, since in this case the undersigned and CESNUR will be forced to reply in a more suitable place, without any further notice and reserving the right to claim damages and expenses.

Best regards

Massimo Introvigne

The whole issue of course was non existent: we had never used the expression "false claims".

Hower, Introvigne's threatening message is dated July 20th, 1998. Since then, Introvigne has never again touched on the matter of his titles. We believe in dialogue and not in suing; however, since he has chosen suing instead of dialogue, this clearly means we were right.

And we did achieve one positive result: since then, Introvigne really has begun to use titles more sparingly and modestly (today he nearly always quite rightly introduces himself as "Dr" Introvigne).

We have never accused Massimo Introvigne of being incompetent: partial yes, but only rarely lacking in information.Therefore, the issue of titles could seem to be irrelevant.However, it is important because Introvigne does not claim (as would be his right) to be the spokesman for a current of researchers whom we can call "apologists". Rather, he claims to be the spokesman for all the academic world as far as cults are concerned, on the basis of his teaching for three days a year at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, the Roman centre of the controversial group of "Legionaries of Christ".

So let us take a look at this title.

First of all, it seems he has not been working at the institute for several years. However, far more important, it was the spokesman for the "Pontifical Athenaeum" who told us that it is not a university. On September 20th, 1998, we received a message from Carlos E. Sotelo Ibarra, L.C. [Legionary of Christ], writing to us privately in his capacity as a student at the "Athenaeum":


In your web site you suggest that the "Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum" is not recognized by the Holy See. This is incorrect, to say the least. While it is true that an Athenaeum is not a "University" (to qualify for the title it is required that a center have three or more faculties). It is recognized and listed by the Holy See among the "Atenei Romani" (Cfr. "Annuario Pontificio", 1998, p.1740).

Part of the confusion is undoubtedly due to the fact that the Athenaeum is a young institution (founded 1993), and that its nomination as a "Pontifical Athenaeum" is even more recent. But according to your sources, it could be due to the wording of the phrase in Mons. Fitzgerald's letter, in which he notes that the Athenaeum is not a "Pontifical University", which in my view is a statement more regarding the "University" part of the issue, than the Pontifical recognition to the institution.

With best regards,

Fr. Carlos Sotelo, L.C.

Of course by submitting this documentation we do not intend in any way to accuse Dr Introvigne of making "false claims."
Miguel Martínez
Marzo 2001