The provost at Ave Maria University, once a student of the current pope, has been asked to resign his position immediately.
Provost Joseph Fessio sent an e-mail shortly after 2 p.m. today to members of the Ave Maria community, saying he’s been asked to resign and leave the campus immediately.
His brief e-mail reads:
"To the Ave Maria University community: I have been asked to resign my position as provost and leave the campus immediately.
I will miss Ave Maria and the many of you whom I hold dear.
Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J."
In a statement, university officials said Fessio was asked to step down as a result of "irreconcilable difference over administrative policies and practices."
"There has never been any difference in our commitment to our mission or to the Magisterium of the Church. Nor is there any diminishment in our commitment to maintaining the highest quality of scholarship," according to the statement.
University officials would like Fessio to serve the university in an advisory capacity in the future, according to the statement.
"We are grateful for the enormous contributions Father Fessio has made to the development of Ave Maria University, especially to the liturgical and intellectual development of the institution," it reads.
Fessio was unavailable for comment this afternoon.
A 4:30 p.m. private convocation was planned today, where students and faculty were expecting to learn more about Fessio's dismissal.
I have comments open here, but remember, they're moderated. So if you have unfounded speculation or gossip to share...don't waste your time.
Don't these people understand the 'not in front of the children' principle? Traumatic personnel decisions (as opposed to firing embezzlers) are best left for June, July, and August. Instead, they do it during the month between sending out admissions offers and the due date for deposits for the fall. And if they don't believe that parents notice this kind of thing?
As for reasons:
Nothing beyond the differences on administrative policy has been publicly voiced by the parties involved as yet. That said, there are theories and speculation:
“Same-sex activity is considered disordered,” Fessio said. “If there are ways of detecting diseases or disorders of children in the womb, and a way of treating them that respected the dignity of the child and mother, it would be a wonderful advancement of science.”
It seems unlikely, to me at least, that this comment would be the occasion for anything on the part of AMU administrators.
The traditionalist forum Angelqueen has long had its critical eye on both AMU and Fessio for ages, regularly running threads noting what they would see as liturgical hijinks and anomalies at the university - the healing Masses that occur their regularly and what is claimed to be a hostility to traditionalist concerns. This was brought together soon after the news broke in this thread and this one.
(You might wonder why traditionalists are hostile to Fessio. He, along with Ignatius and, for example, the Adoremus Bulletin and even EWTN are often characterized as being devoted to the "reform of the reform" which, at its root, assumes the worth of the Missal of Paul VI, an assumption traditionalists do not share at all.)
That said, and ideological filters aside, it does appear that there was a conflict between a more charismatic Steubenville-type sensibility and a more traditional, rubrically-rooted, liturgical sense. One can guess that this carries through to other areas of student life as well.
But beyond this, and really fundamental, are problems that have plagued AMU - and, we might add, countless Tom Monaghan-supported projects for years. Whether we're talking radio stations. grammar schools or colleges, there is a sense of jumpiness and uncertainty about these projects, many of which have come - with great fanfare - and gone - with considerably less fanfare.
If you want to get a sense of this from a raucous, muckracking anonymous angle or two, the anonymous, and cheerfully mean-spirited blog Fumare has been railing against Monaghan in regard to the Law School, mostly, for a while, and Ave Watch is another anonymous site which is openly hostile to the AMU project, and not too fond of Fr. Fessio, either. In the midst of the agendas, which are clear, nuggets of fact do emerge in a way that they don't from carefully worded official statements. In these cases, it's also interesting to watch a rather new phenomenon - the comments that many newspapers allow at the end of their articles. 90% are useless or worse, but occasionally you will find first-hand accounts and views of people who are actually involved.
Point: It hasn't been a smooth ride, and the bumpiness has really been beyond what's to be expected in a venture like this.
How difficult would it be to start a college from scratch? Very. How difficult would it be to start a university and a town practically from scratch? Incredibly difficult, especially when you have various strong personalities at work, and - and to me this is important for the media to get - different variants of the "orthodox" Catholic sensibility at work, often butting heads.
But who knows - perhaps it wasn't about theology or liturgy at all. Perhaps it was about business, about dynamics within an administration and a board, and the difficulties inherent in all of this being dependent on the good will and opinions of one guy with a very fat wallet.