Fr. Fessio Goes Ballistic

June 2005

The NOR has had five articles (and many letters) on the controversy surrounding Tom Monaghan’s Ave Maria institutions — specifically about Ave Maria College (AMC) in Ypsilanti, Mich., and Ave Maria University (AMU) in Naples, Fla.

Andrew Messaros, a former professor of biology at AMC, sent in an unsolicited article to the NOR on the controversy, telling his side of the story. It was accepted and appeared in the September 2004 issue. Although the NOR very rarely does this, we sent an advance copy of that issue to Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., the Provost of AMU, asking if he would like to reply. He insisted that the reply appear in the October 2004 issue. But that issue had pretty much been put to bed. Nonetheless, we accommodated Fr. Fessio by, at the last minute, pulling certain material out of that issue. The article reply came, but not from Fr. Fessio. Rather, it came from Nicholas J. Healy Jr., the President of AMU.

Now, in publishing, when the original author writes an article, he has the moral right — if he so chooses — to have the last word. So Messaros, exercising that right, wrote an article responding to Healy in the November 2004 issue.

Again, we wrote to Fr. Fessio asking if anyone wanted to reply to the second Messaros article. We explained why it could not appear in the next issue (Dec. 2004), because that issue had already been put to bed, primarily so as to get that issue out early because of the Christmas slow-down in the U.S. mail. This time the article in reply came from Fr. Fessio. It was printed in our January 2005 issue.

Of course, Messaros had the moral right to reply to Fessio if he so chose. And he did. To be fair, we skipped the February issue, and the article in reply by Messaros was printed in the March 2005 issue.

We had already heard from some of our readers that they were getting tired of the Ave Maria controversy, so in the March issue we said: “This is the NOR’s fifth and final installment on Thomas Monaghan and his Ave Maria institutions,” which of course does not mean that letters to the Editor could not be written.

Now, Fr. Fessio insisted that he and AMU should have the last word. We explained to him that that’s not how it works in publishing. The original author has the last word if he chooses (some do and some don’t).


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New Oxford Notes: June 2005

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