"No Priest Has Ever Harmed a Boy"
I disagree with your advertisement in the National Weekly Edition of The Washington Times regarding the clerical sex scandals. Before you rush to print these things, it would be a good idea to check the facts.
I have never bought into the secular-liberal media’s myth about the so-called “priest” scandal. The fact is these stories are all false and unproven — no priest has ever harmed a boy. Boys have been bribed by slick lawyers to say these things. The purpose is to bankrupt the Catholic Church.
I know of a slick lawyer who plants priest stories in the media. He uses boys as “runners” to “test” priests. Then he does what he can to paint all priests as “child molesters” and capitalize on his chicanery. These slick, militant liberal lawyers have tricked the media and they are making millions on the good intentions of devout Catholics. While the Catholic Church cannot hand out money fast enough to these unscrupulous lawyers, the “thanks” you get is to get smeared further in the media by these creepy lawyers.
I have many recorded tapes. I’ve figured this all out. I’m going to do a book on it.
Saint Anthony Friary
You Are Theological McCarthyites
This is the last straw. Your editorial policy of dragging only the “good guys” into the glare of your scrutiny for dogmatic purity (in this case, Edward O’Neill’s article assailing Scott Hahn [June 2004]) was the aegis for the insulting ad hominem attack on Dr. Hahn by letter-writer David Cavall (Oct.). This has provided me, finally, with the incentive I’ve needed to write this long-overdue letter. Cavall writes: “If Dr. Hahn desires to be a true Roman Catholic, he needs to leave his personal interpretations of the Bible back where he came from, back in Protestant-land, where each new spin on the unchanging Word of God is applauded and given a huge audience.”
Your citing the free-speech Amendment to the Constitution will do you no good. I hold you responsible for this letter impugning Dr. Hahn’s standing as a “true Roman Catholic.” The letter was not only an egregious affront to Dr. Hahn, but likewise to our “separated brethren.”
Scott Hahn’s conversion to Roman Catholicism imperiled his family life, lost him a lucrative position about to be handed to him as rector of a Protestant seminary — a position he sorely needed to support a growing family, which is the result of his adherence to the Catholic doctrine defining contraception as a mortal sin, a doctrine flouted by 90 percent of our “true Roman Catholics”!
Dr. Hahn’s lectures, retreats, tapes, and videos have been the shot in the arm I’ve needed to immunize me from the infection of dissent against the Magisterium of the Church during these past few decades, which has witnessed incredible distortions of the great Second Vatican Council.
Years ago I was attracted to your magazine by your ad showing a fuzzy-haired Father Flake in the National Weekly Edition of The Washington Times. I immediately recognized that errant priest. I’ve encountered him personally and suffered humiliation at his hands. Sometimes he is reputed to be erudite, and that causes me temptations to doubt my faith.
I am edified by the story of the NOR’s conversion from Anglicanism and its upholding true Catholic doctrine, but I have been growing dis-edified of late. Why do you target for criticism only personalities and periodicals which in principle uphold the Faith you love? In one issue (Sept. 2004) you attacked such stalwart defenders of the Faith as George Weigel and Cardinal Dulles. In that same issue, an article slammed Tom Monaghan, who is giving up his personal fortune to put right what the NOR deplores, the sorry spectacle of Catholics ignorant of their faith. With inquisitorial inspection, you scan Our Sunday Visitor and the Register, two periodicals which informed me of my faith in rural Michigan. This amounts to theological McCarthyism. I recall the words of one of Senator McCarthy’s victims back in the 1950s, “Have you no sense of decency?”
Cavall decries “personal interpretations.” Alas! There has been no lack of them! The Holy Father has labeled them a “parallel magisterium” in competition with the one which he heads as Successor of Peter. Have you never found anything to your distaste in the National Catholic Reporter, America, or Commonweal? I’m glad those magazines were not in the vestibule of our little Church in Pigeon, Mich., when I was a boy! But of course they had not fallen into heresy in the 1930s, I’m sure. Did you support the Holy Father against the tirade he suffered upon the publication of Dominus Iesus, the document explaining the necessity of holding the Catholic Church to be the one true faith?
This is my suggestion for you. If you find such a need to be critical of friends of the Holy Father, then utilize a principle enunciated by Dale Carnegie, who in 1940 wrote the bestselling How to Win Friends and Influence People: “Start with honest praise and appreciation.” You will not find it difficult to put Carnegie’s principle into practice in regard to those people and publications you routinely attack.
Sacred Heart of Mary Church
Ellicott City, Maryland
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
If you hold us “responsible” for David Cavall’s letter, then you must hold us “responsible” for publishing your letter, and the other letters defending Dr. Hahn, and the article by Abraham Heck defending Dr. Hahn.
You have been subscribing to the NOR for a long time. If you had done your homework, you would know that we have defended Dominus Iesus, and you would know we’ve severely criticized material in the National Catholic Reporter, America, and Commonweal innumerable times.
It’s easy to lampoon liberal Catholics — and we do it.
The harder thing to do is police the people on our side. Some people didn’t like it when we went after Deal Hudson, but we knew something was fishy, and now we’ve been entirely vindicated. You refer to the “good guys.” Sorry, but we’re not Manichaeans; the “good guys” aren’t always good, and the bad guys aren’t always bad. Indeed, the “good guys” can sometimes be sincerely ignorant and deceptively dumb. Jesus warns us about “false prophets” who can “deceive the very elect” (Mt. 24:24), and St. Paul urges us to beware of those coming with “smooth words and flattering speech” (Rom. 16:18). There’s a lot of sloppy thinking and screwy theologizing on our side.
You are in little danger of being deceived by the liberal Catholics. But you seem most willing to be deceived by those on our side. When a liberal Catholic says the Holy Spirit is feminine (thus giving Jesus two mommies and implicitly validating “gay marriage”), surely you wouldn’t believe it, but when Scott Hahn says so, you appear willing to swallow it.
It would be nice if you could tell us what we have written about your heroes that is false. If you can’t do that, we are forced to conclude that you wish to believe illusions. Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you that truth is self-recommending. If you wish to believe illusions, then what is the basis for your Catholic faith?
Catholics have long assumed that we can trust our bishops; after all, they are the Successors of the Apostles. But with the eruption of the clerical sex scandals in 2002, most Catholics — not all! — have discovered that the bishops cannot necessarily be trusted. If we can’t trust the Successors of the Apostles, why would you assume we can trust everything Dr. Hahn and your other icons say? Indeed, Scott Hahn (in his reply to Edward O’Neill’s critique of him) said in our letters section (Sept.): “He [O’Neill] echoes my own thoughts when he tells readers not to accept my ideas uncritically.” Hahn knows he’s not infallible or impeccable, so why would you assume he and other stars in your firmament are?
As for McCarthyism, our ads have been blacklisted by Our Sunday Visitor and the Register. McCarthyites practice blacklisting. Maybe you should pose your question to the Visitor and the Register: “Have you no sense of decency?” And why should we take this injustice and indecency lying down? So of course we scrutinize what they write. We believe in intellectual argument, but they’d prefer to blacklist. Yet and still, we’ve never blacklisted their ads or refused to rent our mailing list to them, and we continue to review books from Our Sunday Visitor Inc., usually favorably (we’d venture that the best aspect of Our Sunday Visitor Inc. is its Book Division).
You refer to Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. The very title is slimy. It’s about how to con the unsuspecting, and make money and become successful. We are not interested in winning friends and influencing people. We’ve seen many orthodox Catholics try to do that, and they wind up as lapdogs — co-opted, compromised, and ineffectual. Carnegie was a salesman for Armour & Co., and he parlayed his cunning techniques into a full-time career. Carnegie was the consummate salesman, and we don’t trust many salesmen. Most salesmen tell “white” lies, and we’re not in the business of doing that. Carnegie advised, “Start with honest praise and appreciation.” Yeah, right. This is the Human Relations-speak of the business world. You know, “We honestly think you’re doing a fine job, but we must very reluctantly demote you. So, so sorry. Be assured that we highly value your presence.” It’s just nonsense.
Nevertheless, in O’Neill’s critique of Hahn, he spent his first two paragraphs and his last paragraph giving “honest praise and appreciation” to Hahn. It wasn’t nonsense. It was truly “honest praise and appreciation.” But it didn’t impress you in the least. So why are you lecturing us about giving honest praise?
As a proponent of Positive Thinking, Carnegie’s great mantra was “Believe that you will succeed, and you will.” More nonsense. Actually, we’re not interested in succeeding. We prefer Mother Teresa’s advice: “it’s not important to be successful; it’s important to be faithful.” Strangely, however, our circulation is now at an all-time high. Amazing. Why? Probably because our readers don’t want “white” lies and prevarication and flattery; they want the full truth and nothing but the truth. As we say, the truth is self-recommending.
Handling Complaints About the "Longer Form"
In regard to your New Oxford Note on “The Parable of the Wheat & the Weeds…” (Nov.): This Franciscan priest always reads the “Longer Form” of the Gospel. As for other readings, I always tell the lectors to read the “Longer Form.”
I do receive occasional complaints, and I answer them in this fashion: If you and I can sit in front of the TV to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers for three to four hours, why not a couple extra minutes for the full Word of God?
Fr. Matthew R. Brozovic, O.F.M.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
How Women Can Lose Respect
A New Oxford Note (Oct., pp. 13-14) quotes and expands upon the contention of Bryce Christensen that most children now in effect have two fathers: the male one, and the female one who “now flexes her muscles” as co-breadwinner and mimics the male role to the detriment of traditional motherhood. I would like to add to that.
A woman’s femininity is also lessened (and with this, her motherly and wifely aura) by her dressing like a man. This has become such a part of our culture that she gives no second thought to choosing slacks, jeans, and pantsuits over skirts and dresses. If a man is seen in a dress, we immediately recognize it as a perversion. I witnessed this on a public bus in this liberal city of Ann Arbor when a man stepped onboard wearing a summery, printed dress. The driver, a woman, gasped, as did many of the riders.
To some extent, immeasurable though it may be to our eyes (but not to God’s), women who commonly wear pants have brought a change to the feelings of men toward women. Imitating men brings neither respect nor the softer feelings of gentlemanliness. This mimicking of men’s wear can set her up as a competitor, and projects her as being hostile even to her own nature. It changes the dynamics of sexual attraction. A woman in a skirt presents herself as a mystery. In pants she is a crotch and buttocks. The first can suggest romance; the second, a cruder familiarity.
I would also claim that it affects the romance of a marriage. Am I unusual when I say I feel a tenderness toward my wife when I see her dressed expressly as a woman, much more than when she wears blue jeans or slacks? Every cell of our bodies proclaims us either male or female. We are different physically and psychologically. God made us that way for a purpose. We should enhance what we are, not hide it (I do not mean our physical nakedness, but our human sensitivities).
My plea to Christian women is this: Bring back your femininity by how you dress. Be distinctively women outwardly, as you are in the secret of your cells. By this return, you will again allow men their own distinctive outward identity, which has been muddied. And let us be done with the foolishness the feminists have foisted upon us. We are different. Find joy in our differentness (dare I say “diversity”?). Bring pleasing aesthetics back to your person, in color and contour and pleats and print. Bring back beauty, as only a woman can do.
Donald C. Wilcox
Ambiguity Is Us
One of the major problems confronting Catholics living in the post-Vatican II Church has been dealing with “fuzzy language” not only in Vatican documents (“Fuzzy Language Does Not Belong in Vatican Documents,” New Oxford Notes, Nov.), but in post-Vatican II papal pronouncements as well. It seems as though ambiguity in Church statements began with the documents of Vatican II themselves. It all comes down to a matter of interpretation. Thus progressives grab hold of statements on, say, the liturgy, and use that as a justification for introducing all kinds of innovations not specifically mentioned in the document itself. Conservatives, on the other hand, always manage to glean some small gem of orthodoxy buried within the same document so as to satisfy themselves that the statement can be squared with traditional teachings.
What we have, then, is the two-handed Vatican/papal statements, so that everyone can have his cake and eat it too: On the one hand, Latin is to be retained in the liturgy, but on the other, we can have the vernacular; on the one hand, Communion should be received in the traditional manner, but on the other hand, Communion in the hand is an “option”; boys and young men should be encouraged to serve at the altar as possibly a way to discern a priestly vocation, but girls are “invited” to this ministry as well.
No wonder both sides point to the same documents to justify opposing conclusions. Such ambiguity has been the cause of endless confusion, liturgical and otherwise. Oh, for the days when papal documents were clear, precise, and totally unfuzzy.
Peter W. Frey
Thomas Basil’s article on his visit to the tomb of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (Oct.) was inspiring. We used parts of it as reading in our monthly Holy Hour. It was good to realize that there are still pockets of great holiness in France.
Priestesses & New Age
Many thanks to Fr. Alvaro Delgado for his article, “Imposing Heterodoxy” (Nov.). It brought back unpleasant memories of my own year of Clinical Pastoral Education.
Our program was run by several nuns, not in habit, who wanted to be priestesses. There was also a woman in the class who recently lost her husband, and she, too, felt called to the priesthood. Every week much time was wasted in listening to their laments about the unfairness of the male hierarchy in not permitting women to preside at the altar. Unfortunately, some of the seminarians were sympathetic to their cause. One of the texts that we had to read was so bad that the bishop of one of my fellow seminarians forbade him to read it or any other book written by its author, a Franciscan nun.
At the end of the first semester, we had a closing ceremony that was standard New Age, with candles, water, touchie-feelie prayers to spirits, etc. Something similar was planned for the end of the second semester, but some of us absented ourselves from the planned festivities. Fortunately, we were not punished for our impudence.
Fr. Edward Szymanski
Fort Pierre, South Dakota
The Homophilic Novus Ordo Mass
Regarding the Novus Ordo Mass: No, I will not hold your hand during the Our Father, and I will not give you a hug. This happens too often at the Novus Ordo Mass. And it seems to be getting worse. It appears that some men will go to great lengths to hold hands with other men.
Men do not hold other men’s hands. And men do not hug one another.
In our culture, hugs and holding hands can contain sexual overtones. I come from a long line of masculine men. We love one another, but we do not hold hands or hug one another. Somehow the message gets through.
I’m tired of the “you need to get over the hang-up” mantra. Masculinity is not a “hang-up.” The Bible is full of masculine men. God intended men to be strong, to be tough, to be leaders.
Women, on the other hand, are nurturing. Women are gentle. Women are maternal. Women are feminine. Women give hugs.
I will continue to drive 200 miles, each way, to attend a Traditional Latin Mass, where hand-holding and hugs and other abuses do not occur.
And I will save my hugs for my wife.
Mark L. Moyer
The Novus Ordo Done Right
I watch the daily Mass on the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN). It is the Novus Ordo done right. Too many orthodox Catholics think they have to choose between a lackluster Novus Ordo Mass and a Tridentine Latin Mass. There is an alternative.
At the EWTN Mass there is no handshake of peace, the Pater Noster is the Pater Noster, there are bells at the Consecration, and there is Communion on the tongue. The Sacrifice of the Mass on EWTN is done with reverence, down to the smallest detail.
Cardinal Arinze said Pope Paul VI was inspired by the Holy Spirit when he instituted the Novus Ordo, and he is right.
Squaw Valley, California
Get to Know Scott Hahn Before You Judge Him
In response to the letter (Nov.) by Vivian Kane about Dr. Scott Hahn: It is one thing to voice opinions on the work of Dr. Scott Hahn, but don’t you think that publicly voicing a judgmental opinion about his spiritual behavior (that he is not “the saint that he — it seems to me — pretends to be”) is out of line, Vivian? You also state that “he has made a fortune by becoming a Catholic.” Are you implying that he was motivated to convert for financial reasons? Vivian and Vivian-supporters, it is obvious to me that you don’t know him.
Before you publicly accuse him with your opinions, you might want to contact him. He is very approachable, available, and honest. He has a wonderful sense of humor that helps to keep him and those around him humble. Vivian and others, just be direct! Ask him: “Scott, are you pretending to be a saint?” and “Did you become Catholic to make a fortune?” Once you have listened to him and get to know him, you will owe him a public apology.
Contact him at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Steubenville, Ohio. Ask for Emily, his secretary. She will be a big help in connecting with him. I would give you his home phone number, but it isn’t mine to give out.
Rockville Centre, New York
After reading the articles and letters on the subject of Scott Hahn, I get the feeling that there’s a lot of unpleasantness taking place among the readers of the NOR. Not having been educated to anything near the level of the “perfessers” who have taken part in the altercation, I know only one thing: Whenever I have been privileged to hear Dr. Hahn speak, or to read anything that he has written, I always come out loving God even more than I did before. Isn’t that what’s really important? As for his “having made a fortune by becoming a Catholic,” and “pretending to be a saint,” well, I don’t know about that, but hasn’t a guy with a nice big family, like Dr. Hahn has, got the right to make as much money as he can?
Patricia A. Nolan
Going Beyond Scott Hahn
Thank you for including the two articles on Dr. Scott Hahn, pro and con (Nov.). I grew up unlearned in my Catholic faith, believing that a good Catholic can be one who does as little as going to Mass once a week. When some college friends introduced me to Dr. Hahn via a speech about his conversion, I decided I wanted to learn more — so I turned to his books.
It was of great benefit to me that Dr. Hahn did include cheesy jokes and lots of personal background — he was speaking to me where I was at the time. And it was much to my benefit that he was able to put some theology into images I could use (e.g., family and Trinity). Dr. Hahn walked me through my baby steps on becoming a real Catholic.
However, I have since stopped reading his books. In fact, I commented to a local Catholic bookstore owner that I could write Dr. Hahn’s books for him. He really does have only one stock and trade. Everything is so predictable.
Dr. Hahn’s theology can be damaging, at times skating on the thin ice of heresy. For example, in First Comes Love, he tries too hard to make the family and the Trinity the same thing — and because of this assigns the Holy Ghost to the role of family mother. It just doesn’t work. Dr. Hahn shouldn’t try to fit a square peg through a round hole.
Charlestown, New Hampshire
Our Pope's Approach To Governance
I am writing in reference to the dismay expressed by the NOR that our Pope does not seem to be a disciplinarian. The NOR is clearly loyal to our Pope, and that is not to be disparaged. Just the same, please listen to my attempt to explain our Pope’s approach.
A bishop is Successor to the Apostles. He is responsible to Christ, as was each of the Apostles. That means he is duty-bound to Christ to lead His people to Heaven. He does not need the pope to tell him what to do or what not to do, because Christ has already told him that. The pope is a bishop also, but his responsibility is to lead the whole Church in matters of faith and morals. He does not tell bishops anything different from what Christ has already told them.
What about Judas Iscariot, the errant bishop (apostle)? The other bishops (Apostles), including St. Peter, did nothing. Neither did Jesus Christ. That bishop made his own bed, so to speak. Our present bishops (apostles) cannot be so different. However, Christ said, “It would have been better had that man never been born.”
When we think of Pope John Paul II, we should think of Judas Iscariot, and St. Peter and Jesus Christ. What could St. Peter have done? What could Jesus have done about Judas Iscariot? Think of the present! Here is a definition from Webster: Collegiality — the participation of bishops in the government of the Roman Catholic Church in collaboration with the pope. Does that make the pope the boss? Or is he boss only in matters of faith and morals? Certainly he leads, but he does not drive.
Let us imagine a sailor with his hands on the steering wheel of a steamship with many souls on board. They are depending on him to steer, though any of the sailors might be called upon to steer. The steersman gets his orders on how to steer from the captain. The parallel to the Church is this: The sailors are bishops. The steersman is the pope. And the captain is Christ. But everyone aboard goes along with the steersman. We may note all the other sailors obey the captain, rather than obey the steersman, who is one of the sailors.
David C. Jennings
I'm Annulling My Subscription
Even if I had not read about Deal Hudson’s sexual episode with the 18-year-old Cara Poppas (“The Crisis at Crisis Magazine [Part II],” New Oxford Notes, Nov.), if I had known that he had two divorces and annulments in his past, that would have been enough for me to have serious doubts about him.
People don’t have to be Catholic to know what “I do…until death” means. And those who break their vows, Catholic or not, are not the most upstanding people in our culture. I prefer to stand with the few who are faithful to their vows, not dating or remarrying, when their spouses have been unfaithful.
That being said, I don’t plan to renew my subscription to the NOR because you have given little coverage to the grave scandal of the granting of decrees of nullity by the tens of thousands in corrupt diocesan tribunals over the past 35 years.
What is considered evidence for nullity is out in the open. Fr. Lawrence G. Wrenn of the Hartford, Conn., diocesan Tribunal has written two books teaching canonists what he calls evidence of nullity: Decisions (1983) and Judging Invalidity (2002). Absolutely absurd evidence such as she gave the baby the attention she used to give him, and she never liked any of the gifts he gave her, are used as evidence of nullity in marriage cases (Judging Invalidity, pp. 16-17). The cases Wrenn presents are fictional but are based on real cases, and would be laughable if they were not breaking the hearts of rejected spouses and children whose homes are torn asunder by the likes of “pastorally sensitive” priests such as Wrenn and the thousands who put their faith in him.
And in case anyone thinks that his thinking is confined to the Hartford Diocese, it is not. I have e-mails from tribunalists in various parts of the U.S. who confirm that Fr. Wrenn is their leading light when it comes to deciding nullity. Fr. Joseph Amato of the Venice, Fla., diocesan Tribunal confirms this sad fact.
It’s no wonder that Fr. Richard McBrien calls the annulment situation in America “Catholic divorce.” Sometimes the dissenting faction of the Church gets it right.
I can only guess that lay-run Catholic publications such as the NOR fear upsetting the consciences of readers who are on second or third marriages themselves or have family members who are. That is too bad. It is similar to people not wanting to upset the emotional well-being of those who have had abortions by showing what really happened to their child. We cannot stop the scandal if we don’t expose it.
So I will not renew my subscription when it expires in June 2005. My energies now are going to fighting the annulment scandal.
Garnerville, New York
What are Catholics to do when family destruction comes to their house? It is little spoken of. In an article titled “Breaking Vows” (Crisis, Jul.-Aug. 2004), Tom Hoopes writes at length about faithful Catholics who divorce. But shouldn’t the consequences of divorce on the Catholic family and its generations be brought to light too? Divorce opens the floodgates to problems devastating to the individual, the family, and society. Impoverishment, exile, rootlessness, alcohol and drug addiction, and extreme loneliness are just a few.
This assault on faith and family projects into the future. It is no secret to some of us living the long nightmare. If any of your readers agree, their helpful advice is welcome.
Rita Moore Daly
I really enjoyed your Editor’s Reply (Nov.) on why you will not accept e-mails for your letters to the Editor section.
I had a 30-year supervisory management career in government and retired just in time to avoid having to put up with e-mail. I took a firm stance that if someone was so lazy as to not pick up a telephone, write a letter, or come see me in person, I didn’t want to be bothered.
I had a special aversion to e-mail given the kind of work my agency did, where the case activity did not cease once the lights were turned off at the close of the day. Thus, I did not want to have to come in the next morning, especially a Monday morning, to a ton of inane e-mails. After all, I knew I would be coming in each morning to numerous legitimate notifications, usually via a telephone call, of case activity which had occurred during the off-hours. And so I would not have wanted to put up with dumb e-mails.
Nowadays too many governmental agencies have excessive staff-time devoted to replying to foggy and incoherent and all-too-often-unrelated-to-the-business-at-hand e-mails. And if replies are not made? Then staff immediately get hammered with the “I’m a taxpayer” thing, and even though the e-mail is just plain stupid, “I have a right to hear from you!” (Hear this: Stop sending me your stupid e-mails!)
So why do governmental agencies (and private businesses too) put up with all this? Because it makes them look modern and up-to-date. But is that a good reason to misuse staff-time at taxpayer expense?
I’m with you in not wanting to be bothered — in my personal life too — with, as you say, “random and ramshackle thoughts.” I remain serenely e-mail inaccessible.
W. Gregory Mullally
Next Case, Please
Concerning your publication of a second attack on the reputations of Fr. Joseph Fessio, Nicholas Healy, and Thomas Monaghan (“Nick Healy’s Impending Educational Disaster,” by Andrew Messaros [Nov.]), I have a hard time understanding how the wrenching experience of moving to an undesirable location (Naples, Fla., which does not usually make people’s bad list, but put that aside) can be turned into a vicious attack — including the author’s nauseating insinuations of criminality — on three indisputably good men who are working their hearts out for the Church.
The author himself concedes they are “good men” and are to be praised for their Catholicity and good works!
I can only say: Next case, please.
And why bring in the good name of Fr. John Hardon? I knew, admired, and worked for him years ago. I cannot imagine he would want his name used to thwart the efforts of a respected fellow Jesuit trying to establish a Catholic university worthy of the name. To the extent that Messaros is harming Ave Maria University’s bright future with his diatribes, he is interfering with Catholic parents’ desire — I talk to them daily and am one myself — to send their children to a place that will educate and form sound Catholic men and women.
Alice von Hildebrand Doesn't Have a Clue
I am writing to express disappointment in the letter written by Alice von Hildebrand titled “In Defense of Ave Maria University” (Nov.).
In the two years I was employed at Ave Maria College in Michigan as Director of Public Relations, I never once saw Alice von Hildebrand on campus, and have not had a single conversation with her all that time. Nor have I talked to her since I was abruptly dismissed from my job on July 2. I am not alone: She has not spoken to anyone else associated with the effort to keep Ave Maria College alive. One suspects if she talked to those who have first-hand knowledge of events described in the media she criticizes, she would come to different conclusions.
There is nothing whatsoever “un-Catholic” about those who have written of the extraordinary mess that surrounds Ave Maria College (AMC) in Michigan, Ave Maria University (AMU) in Florida, or its branch campus in Nicaragua. Catholics have a right and a need to know the truth about AMU and how its top officials operate. After all, Catholics are being asked by Tom Monaghan in sophisticated direct-mail appeals to donate $604 million to build the Florida campus.
Much of what has been written about Nick Healy correctly portrays him as a master of spin. He is the most powerful man in the Monaghan empire, and his words and behavior give evidence of a man intent on retaining power no matter what the cost. To refer to some of Healy’s statements as “transparent lies,” or to speak of his “chicanery” or his “plundering of assets,” may well be hyperbolic, but they do reflect his breakneck campaign to create a new Monaghan empire in Naples, Fla., at the expense of plain talk, fair dealing, and principles of Catholic social justice.
A mere listing of the several dozen people who have lost their jobs or resigned since Nick Healy arrived at Ave Maria would be instructive. Some whose careers have been damaged by Healy have written about their nightmarish experience in the media, and von Hildebrand criticizes them for speaking out in The Wanderer, and on Cruxnews.com, websites, and weblogs. But most who have been damaged have remained silent, and have tried to get on with their lives without controversy.
It says much that only six months after AMU opened for classes, it was under criminal investigation by the federal Department of Education — and that investigation continues. So far, AMU has been ordered to return $108,836 to the government for its handling of federal loans and grants. And yet in all of this, Healy maintained that AMU officials had done nothing illegal. We shall see.
Healy’s aggressive campaign to “wind down” AMC Michigan through intimidation is a clear instance of a man making untrue statements which he only hopes will come true, and which may come true if only he repeats them often enough. All last year Healy sent memos to AMC Michigan students, spreading the rumor that AMC Michigan had decided to “wind down.” The rumor was disseminated long before the AMC Board had definitively voted to “wind down” anything. As a result, the falsehood that AMC Michigan had already decided to “wind down” became an instant “truth,” as students began to panic and leave the campus. Healy could then use this artificially induced exodus as further evidence in securing a so-called “unanimous” Board vote to close the College. A self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one. And one not based on truth.
But Healy has not stopped at mere whisper campaigns and student-manipulation. Certain AMC Board members were threatened last summer with lawsuits by Healy’s administration (AMU Florida) if they did not vote to turn over AMC Michigan’s assets to AMU Florida, and to close AMC in 2007, which they did. Apparently some self-fulfilling prophecies need a little push now and then.
Finally, Healy has continually misrepresented the efforts of the “Newman group” to find support to keep AMC Michigan going after 2007. During negotiations, he put forth a barrage of misinformation even while pretending to be dealing in good faith with us. As a result, potential investors walked away. He has publicly claimed that “no timely or feasible” plan was presented by our group, yet the plan presented was both timely and feasible, as the Ave Parents website shows (www.geocities. com/aveparents). Furthermore, Healy was the one who set the ridiculous deadline for such a plan, and he is the one who continually changed the terms of negotiations that made our efforts very, very difficult.
The vast majority of students, parents, staff, and faculty of AMC Michigan continue to vehemently oppose Healy’s “wind down” campaign. Mrs. von Hildebrand’s well-meaning but naïve defense of Healy’s unconscionable actions will not sway clear-thinking Catholics of good faith who believe otherwise.
A final comment: Von Hildebrand referred to Fr. Joseph Fessio’s 6,000-word question-and-answer article in The Catholic World Report (CWR) as “objective.” I note that no interviewer or byline was listed, giving strong evidence that Fessio’s “Q&A” was really a self-interview. I suppose it is easier to be “objective” when one interviews oneself. It also turns out that Fr. Fessio, Publisher of CWR, has decreed that letters to the Editor from faculty and staff at AMC Michigan, responding to his Q&A, will not be published in CWR, due to pending litigation. So much for “objectivity” — and fairness.