Blitzkrieg on the Western Front
In the ongoing civil war in the universal Church, Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J., President of the University of San Francisco (USF), launched a lightening attack on the St. Ignatius Institute (SII) on black Friday, January 19. Founded some 25 years ago by Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., the SII, a quasi-independent program at USF, has been a bastion of staunch adherence to the Magisterium of the Church, and in those 25 years the tensions between the SII and liberal USF (especially its theology department and Jesuit community) have been intense.
On January 19, Privett summarily fired John Galten, Director of the SII, who served the SII since its inception, and John Hamlon, the Assistant Director. Privett did so without any provocation and without conferring with the SII Advisory Board, the core SII faculty, or SII students.
According to Privett, the USF Catholic Studies program (which is to the liking of the Jesuit powers-that-be) and the SII will be “synergized.” We marvel at Privett’s retro-Stalinist tactics: When Eastern Europe was being Sovietized after the Second World War, the Social Democratic parties (chief rivals of the Communists) and the Communist parties were synergized — actually, of course, the Communist parties gobbled up the Social Democratic parties. Because of the bitter rivalry between USF and the SII, folks loyal to the original SII vision understandably perceive Privett’s “synergy” to be a hostile takeover of the SII.
And there can be no doubting that USF and the SII have markedly different views of Catholic higher education.
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