Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, once a student of the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI, has been asked to resign as Provost of Ave Maria University, and to leave immediately.
Fessio sent an e-mail shortly after 2:00 yesterday afternoon to members of the Ave Maria community:
"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, SJ"
AMU officials said Fessio was asked to step down as a result of "irreconcilable differences over administrative policies and practices."
According to a report in the Naples Daily News, students have been outraged upon hearing the news, including seniors who were hoping to graduate with Fessio present. A few have wept openly.
Meanwhile, Angelqueen provides a possible glimpse into some of those irreconcilable differences:
Fessio was not at all pleased with the liturgical direction AMU had taken. He felt that healing Masses were an abomination and having such gross modernistic types of liturgy did not fit the bill that the founders of AMU sold to investors, potential students and other interested parties.
The more traditional/orthodox minded faculty, staff and students blame much of the modernistic mindset and initiatives on President Nick Healy, a dedicated "praise and worship" Charismatic. Although Healy, a lawyer, layman and right-hand man of Tom Monaghan, had no qualifications whatsoever in theology or liturgy (or higher education for that matter), he was charged with controlling the liturgy after Father Fessio was removed from his position of Chancellor and head of the chaplaincy - being relegated to more of a figurehead role as provost....
This explains much of the tension that led to Fessio's removal. But more important, it underscores an ongoing tension among "orthodox" Catholics -- between those committed to Catholicity in worship, and those involved with the charismatic movement. Some of the latter comprise the leadership of AMU, so the good Father was a mismatch waiting to happen.
The AMU statement also said that officials would like Fessio to serve the university in an advisory capacity in the future. "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." Given the heavy-handedness of this episode -- especially in the wake of other such actions by administrators and certain benefactors of the school -- it is difficult to imagine at this point how that would come about.
After all, when you're "filled with the Holy Spirit," how can you possibly do anything wrong? Some people didn't learn their lessons in Newark and Ann Arbor, did they???
[UPDATE: Rocco Palmo has filed one report, and then another. The latter suggests a connection between statements made by Fessio regarding homosexuality, and the action by AMU. Assuming the University would even want to endorse a contrary opinion, those who have watched events at Ave Maria over the years, would find sufficient turmoil already in the works.]
[THEN AGAIN... No telling of the entire Ave Maria soap opera would be complete without Fumare.]