Letters to the Editor: June 2005
He's Back on T.V.!
Your recent exposé on Deal Hudson (“The Crisis at Crisis Magazine [Part II],” Nov. 2004) was profoundly shocking. It’s amazing that this sexual predator and phony became a spokesman for the Pope’s funeral preparations, etc., for Fox News.
San Mateo, California
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
Indeed! Moreover, on the Geraldo Rivera show on Fox News, Hudson was billed as the Editor and Publisher of Crisis magazine (with Hudson making no correction). Curiously, the Crisis Board, in damage-control mode, is claiming that Hudson is not the Editor and Publisher of Crisis, fearing embarrassment from the Hudson sex scandal — indeed, you will not find Hudson’s name on the Crisis masthead anymore. Nonetheless, Hudson controls Crisis through his Morley Publishing Group Inc. (named after Hudson’s great aunt, Lucile Morley). Many there are who think Hudson is pulling the strings at Crisis behind the scenes. Smoke and mirrors, they say. It’s nice to see Geraldo, and Hudson (by his silence), confirm what so many are saying.
In our May issue (p. 13), we noted this: “That Deal Hudson would defend Maciel [the Founder of the Legionaries of Christ from well-substantiated sex-abuse charges by nine men when they were boys] is a hoot. And that the Register [owned by the Legionaries] published [an article by] Hudson after his sexual predation came to light, and after more recent allegations of sexual misconduct appeared, says a lot. It’s not unlike Bill Clinton vouching for Michael Jackson….” Obviously, the relationship between Hudson and the Legionaries has been solidly cemented. Moreover, Hudson was in Rome in April for the papal interregnum and the election of the new pope (as a friend said, “like bubblegum on your shoe, he’s always there”). In Hudson’s Morley e-Letter of April 17, dispatched from Rome (one day before the Conclave), he said: “One man I intend to follow, even if he is not elected pope, is the Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Noberto Rivera Carrera. I happened to meet him last night…. Noberto has a remarkable presence, reminiscent of our late pontiff.” What Hudson doesn’t tell you is that Cardinal Rivera has close ties to the Legionaries, and that when the U.S. homosexual clerical scandal broke, Rivera saw it as a “campaign of media persecution against the entire Catholic Church.”
A Scarlet Letter for Life?
Let me preface this by saying that I am not going to cancel my subscription at the end of this letter.
You guys are brilliant, erudite, and, yes, a bit cocky at times. A case-in-point is your New Oxford Note, “Bishop Vicky and Bishop Gumby” (April). It was scathingly funny and painfully true. I agree that homosexual clergy, and the acceptance thereof, has the momentum. Who would have imagined thirty years ago that an openly “gay” and pro-abortion bishop in the Episcopal Church (Bishop Vicky) would be loved and admired by a majority of Episcopalians?
However, you also seem to brandish the Scarlet Letter all too freely. In your New Oxford Note, “Rehabilitating Paul Shanley” (April), you say: “we told you about…how the National Catholic Register, owned by the Legionaries of Christ, has tried to rehabilitate Deal Hudson (an adulterer).” Yea, I know, Hudson did this or that with a student as a married man. Reprehensible as it is, should Hudson wear a Scarlet Letter for life? Perhaps this is your cue to respond why Hudson should be brandished for life as an “adulterer.”
Santa Fe, New Mexico
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
Let us give the full quote from our New Oxford Note, “Rehabilitating Paul Shanley” (April): “In a New Oxford Note last month (pp. 16-18), we told you how Commonweal has attempted to rehabilitate Archbishop Weakland (a homosexual) and how the National Catholic Register, owned by the Legionaries of Christ, has tried to rehabilitate Deal Hudson (an adulterer).” In that New Oxford Note “last month” (March, p. 18), we noted that Weakland and Hudson are back in business as if nothing ever happened, adding: “You’d think Weakland and Hudson wouldn’t want to show their faces for a decade or so. Now, that would garner our respect.” We never said Hudson should be brandished as an adulterer for life.
Still, the shameless back-in-business behavior of Weakland and Hudson is in marked contrast to Bill Bennett, who has had the decency to remove himself from the limelight after his gambling habit came to light.
Are the Legionaries of Christ Following The Jesuits?
Apropos of your New Oxford Note, “It Pays to Be Friends With the Legionaries of Christ…” (March): We know we can’t trust the Jesuits anymore. Now the Legionaries of Christ, whom I had thought could replace the Jesuits, are puffing Deal Hudson through their newspaper, the National Catholic Register. So, what’s the deal with the Legionaries? Are they following the Jesuits into waffle-land and fruitcake-land?
Kansas City, Missouri
"If You Can't Say Something Nice…"
With your New Oxford Note, “It Pays to Be Friends With the Legionaries of Christ and Commonweal” (March), you are now on a smear campaign against the Legionaries of Christ.
I am amazed to hear that the Legion is “one of the richest organizations in the Church.” Where do you get your information?
My apostolate with the Legion’s seminary in Thornwood, N.Y., for the past 10 years, has allowed me to observe these seminarians. Much of their food is donated. During the winter months, they live in 40 degree temperatures to help conserve the cost of fuel. These holy, straight, and zealous young men have radiant smiles and cold hands, but their hearts are on fire with the love of Christ. Formation takes 10 to 14 years before ordination — time to discern their vocation and the opportunity for the Legion to observe their intentions.
Your New Oxford Note is harmful, unkind, and a disservice to the Legion. Whatever happened to the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”?
Mary Ann Hogan
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
That the Legion is one of the richest organizations in the Church can be found in the 2000 paperback edition of Lead Us Not Into Temptation (p. xiv) by Jason Berry, one of the two independent journalists who know more about the Legion than anyone else. The other one is Gerald Renner. They teamed up to write Vows of Silence, where they report that Fr. Marcial Maciel, the Founder and until early this year the General Director of the Legion, has “thought nothing of paying $9,000 a ticket to fly the Atlantic aboard the supersonic Concorde and renting a helicopter to appointments in Mexico, Colombia, and Connecticut.”
Vows of Silence also reports that at the Legion’s Rome headquarters, “Maciel courted influential figures in the Curia at lavish dinners…. with fine china, crystal, and a cart of cocktails,” and, for some cardinals, Maciel sent his Mercedes to pick them up.
Meanwhile, as you say, Maciel’s seminarians live on donated food in 40 degree temperatures.
It shouldn’t be hard for you to figure out what’s going on here.
The Cause of Degradation
I became a Catholic more than 50 years ago. I was proud to become a member of Christ’s Church. Her pre-eminence was acknowledged worldwide. She was the moral leader of the world and her influence was inspirational everywhere.
Today, the Catholic Church’s credibility, reputation, and influence have plummeted. As a result, Mass attendance is down drastically, our churches and schools are being closed, and vocations are fewer. Millions of dollars which would have funded her missions are being diverted to satisfy lawsuits brought against the Church for homosexual acts against children and adults.
This degradation was caused by the invasion of the Church by homosexuals — and it continues.
I am unable to find any definitive evidence that the hierarchy of the Church is really dedicated to restoring the credibility and the eminence of the Church. Unless and until they publicly remove all homosexuals or any evidence of homosexuality in any “Catholic” facility of the Church, she will never regain her eminence or ability to influence the world.
Robert W. Shepner
Pebble Beach, California
The Iraq War Was Just
Catholics who consider the Iraq War to be just are not disputing Just War doctrine; it’s a question of application. The Catechism says this about just war: “the evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy [of war] belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have the responsibility for the common good” (#2309).
Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), an orthodox Catholic Senator who (unlike some senators) still stands by his vote to authorize war, wrote: “The just-war doctrine is a theory, and reasonable people can disagree in applying it; but political, not religious, leaders are responsible for deciding whether the war is justified…. President Bush alone was able to fully analyze the threat, and exercise what the doctrine calls ‘prudential judgment’ based on top-secret daily intelligence briefings and advice from his national security team.”
Larry A. Carstens
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
You say that the conditions for moral legitimacy of war belong to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good. So, Mr. Carstens, were you a man in Nazi Germany, you would have trusted Hitler’s “prudential judgment” that the moral conditions for war had been met. After all, Hitler, a baptized Catholic, had “responsibility for the common good.” Moreover, Hitler had “top-secret daily intelligence briefings” to which you were not privy.
We’re not aware that Pope Pius XII condemned Hitler’s wars as unjust, but even if he had, you’d support Hitler over the Pope.
We’re glad to know that you’d be a willing soldier in Hitler’s wars. Or do you have a problem with that? But you couldn’t, given what you state!
Obviously, you don’t understand that chancellors, presidents, and war-planners will always see their wars as just. The closest thing to an objective viewpoint would likely be the pope, and yet you, Mr. Carstens, would choose any Caesar over any pope.
You quote Sen. Santorum, an ambitious political hack if ever there was one. He campaigned, raised funds, and cut TV ads for proabortion Sen. Arlen Specter in a tight race against a prolife challenger in the Republican primary in 2004. As a result, Specter became Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, doing great damage to the prolife cause. For that stab in the back, Santorum’s bishop should have barred him from Holy Communion.
Santorum says: “political, not religious, leaders are responsible for deciding whether war is justified.” Well, then, Santorum too would be a willing soldier in Hitler’s wars. Santorum’s Caesar-worship comes close to heresy. The Code of Canon Law says: “The Church has the right always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, even in respect of the social order, and to make judgements about any human matter in so far as this is required by fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls” (Can. 747, #2). The taking of human life, whether in abortion or an unjust war, always violates “fundamental human rights” and could affect one’s salvation. Just War doctrine is a matter of moral principle, and unjust wars are objectively murder, just as abortion is.
Just War doctrine is not just a “theory.” Pope John Paul II and his men applied the Church’s doctrine to the war on Iraq, pronouncing it unjust, indeed a war of aggression.
Even given your very narrow view of Just War doctrine, Bush was not applying it, was not making any “prudential judgment” about the conditions of a Just War. Why? Because Bush declared his own “doctrine” of preventive war for invading Iraq. Cardinal Ratzinger stated that “the concept of preventive war does not appear in the Catechism,” and so Cardinal Ratzinger opposed the war. And Pope John Paul II condemned preventive war in his 2002 Christmas message. Because preventive war is not part of Just War doctrine, there can be no “application” of Just War doctrine by Bush and there can be no “prudential judgment” made. Preventive wars are automatically unjust.
Moreover, there are some 600,000 Catholics in Iraq, and Saddam did not persecute them (as he did others). Their President, who had “responsibility for the common good,” said that resisting the U.S. invasion was a just cause. According to you, Mr. Carstens, the Iraqi Catholics should follow their President, and American Catholics should follow their President. So we have Catholics killing Catholics all in the name of Caesar. Is there anything Satan could love more?
In a dictatorship, the dictator has exclusive “responsibility for the common good” (but even then a Catholic may resist a dictator’s war; indeed, Cardinal Ratzinger deserted Hitler’s army), but in a democracy, we all have “responsibility for the common good.” In a democracy you cannot shuck off your responsibility for the common good onto Caesar. Whether in a dictatorship or a democracy, the nation-state is never the final authority for a Catholic.
Jesus said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21).
You, Mr. Carstens, are a disciple of Christ, not a disciple of Caesar (or maybe you are).
The Army National Guardsman Speaks
(Ed. Note: In December 2004, we printed a letter from an Army National Guardsman supporting the war in Iraq. In the same issue we replied to it. Because of our reply, we received more canceled subscriptions than ever before in our over 28 years of publication. But, as you will see, it was definitely worth it.)
Writing this letter is causing my pride a little damage, but injuring one’s pride can be a very good thing for one’s salvation. I was offended by your reply to my letter (Dec. 2004), especially intimating that I served the interests of the state of Israel. Since the death of Pope John Paul II, I have learned many things. I do not believe I truly understood him when he was alive. I believe, however, that I am beginning to understand him in death. I dismissed his concerns about the Iraq war far too quickly. I’m still not sure if the war was just or unjust, but now with Bush’s emphasis on spreading American-style “liberty and freedom” to all corners of the world, I am deeply concerned. I don’t believe in “American-style” freedom and liberty. I ask myself: Do I really want to fight for this?
Your reply offended my honor. But now I think you may have been right.
Because of medical problems incurred in the line of military duty, I have been recommended by a military doctor for medical discharge from the Army National Guard, and I have agreed to be discharged. I am currently contemplating a vocation to the monastic life.
The Army National Guardsman
Traditional Conservatives Versus Neoconservatives
One thing strikes me in regard to the hot-headed letters supporting President Bush’s war on Iraq (Feb.): The letter-writers seem to see the NOR’s Editor as a renegade with a cockamamie opinion on the war. I think it’s important to note that the Editor’s views on the war are not only in accord with the Church’s Just War doctrine and the Holy See’s application of that doctrine to Iraq, but also with an entire school of political thought, which includes American Catholics such as Patrick Buchanan, Joe Sobran, and Robert Novak. That school of thought is presented by The American Conservative, a magazine founded about three years ago by Buchanan and like-minds.
Unless one regularly reads The American Conservative, the NOR, and precious few other sources, one will not understand the traditional conservative view on current events. Mainstream “conservative” media outlets, from Fox News to The Weekly Standard, do not present the traditional conservative view.
And the Catholic Church has her own cabal of neocons, many of whom are frequent targets of the NOR. The Catholic neocons are obsessed with power and money, they ignore Catholic social teaching and Just War teaching, and they tend to give a free pass to sex perverts on their side (as do many Catholic bishops), all the while shaking pom-poms for the Pope.
There’s a relatively new battle raging inside the Church — one between traditional conservatives (represented by venues such as the NOR and The Wanderer) and neoconservatives (represented by Crisis and the National Catholic Register). As far as I am aware, the NOR was the first to chronicle this battle. Will faithful Catholics allow neocons to dominate orthodox Catholicism in the U.S. and claim it as their own personal possession, and in so doing distort “orthodoxy” for their own partisan political gain? I hope not.
Barbara E. Rose
Support the War in Iraq
It is certainly appropriate to discuss World War II, Korea, and Vietnam; whether or not we should have been engaged, and how it was prosecuted. However, it is not appropriate for Americans to criticize and publicly rage against the war in Iraq that we are currently fighting. Let me tell you why: Following 18 months of combat, I returned from Vietnam shortly after the Tet Offensive of 1968. I was pumped. I had just gone through the most productive missions of my entire tour of wartime duty. Following Tet 68, I knew we had busted them good and were close to victory. But following my return to the States, I was stunned when I tuned in to my favorite newscaster, Walter Cronkite, and heard his portrayal of the Vietnam War. I remember clearly talking back to the TV and asking Walter, “Which war are you covering?” It was years later that I learned of his decision and of others in the media to go against the Vietnam War. Studies during that period show that a vast majority (I believe it was 80-85 percent) of news coverage from all the major networks were either against the war or neutral. Sound familiar? As we get further away from the Vietnam period, historical research is finally showing that I was right about Tet 68. Interviews with Gen. Giap and other North Vietnamese leaders showed they were ready to quit. But then they started to look at the political scene in the U.S. and they took hope. With Walter Cronkite and others on the networks, and Jane Fonda organizing the protests and even actually meeting with the enemy, they were emboldened and encouraged to continue. And so the war did continue for five more years and thousands more of our fine young men died in combat and hundreds continued to be tortured and rot in prison. And to our great disgrace, we turned our backs on a good people, many of whom were Catholic and have suffered as a consequence of our betrayal. I knew them, trained them, and fought with them. It was not America’s finest hour.
What is important now is that we learn from Vietnam and not do this again with Iraq. Let’s not just “support” the troops but support the “cause.” It is not supporting the troops when one trashes their efforts because one is then actually telling them that their sacrifices are worthless. Such protestations do not support or make a soldier feel good. I know because I was once there.
Let’s put our support behind a quick victory with the least amount of lost lives. And then we can argue and harangue about what happened, crucify those who started the war, vote the bastards out of office, if that is our democratic decision — but not now.
I would have dropped the bomb on Japan, but as President I would not have started the Iraq War. I am now, however, 100 percent behind our President in achieving his objectives and bringing this war to a successful conclusion. That should be the stance of all Americans.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The War on Iraq Is Unconstitutional
In the debate over the war in Iraq (letter by John Shea and the reply by the Editor, March), I would like to propose a few additional points for consideration.
One requirement for a just war is that it must be declared by lawful authority. In the U.S., that lawful authority is Congress, not the president (or the courts, or the United Nations, etc.). Congress is granted this exclusive power by Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution (“to declare war”). Congress did not declare war on Iraq. Instead of making a decision, Congress tried, in a cowardly way, to defer it to the President, but the Constitution does not allow that. On this basis alone, labeling Iraq as a just war is suspect at best.
In a matter as serious as going to war, the Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that such drastic action was initiated only after careful consideration — by a declaration of war by Congress.
Arthur W. Peterson
As for the exchange between John C. Shea and the Editor (March): The Editor’s stance is anti-military, anti-American, and unpatriotic in the extreme. The Editor justifies his position with sophistic argumentation that reeks of medieval monks arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Who needs this?
As John Kerry did in his testimony before the U.S. Senate in 1972 and as Jane Fonda did in visiting North Vietnam, the Editor is aiding and abetting the enemies of this country by spewing out distorted opinions under the guise of self-styled religiosity. There is a name for people who indulge in such slanderous propaganda in time of war: The Editor is a traitor.
Unsubscribe me immediately.
James R. Luntzel Jr.
A Crime and a Sin
Thank you for so eloquently defending Pope John Paul II in his teaching that the invasion of Iraq was an unjust war. You are the only Catholic publication I’ve come across to proclaim the Pope’s teaching so forthrightly. I honor your courage, and I thank you for providing citations for the Pope’s statements in your response to the letter from John C. Shea (March). The clearest statement of the Pope’s I had previously been able to find by reading news on the Internet was when he declared that the invasion was “a crime against peace.” My understanding is that a crime is inherently sinful.
Please accept my donation to help defray the lost income from those Catholics who love their country (and the Republican Party) more than their Catholicism.
Michael L. Breslin
New Hudson, Michigan
Conscientious Catholics Unwittingly Advancing the Culture of Death
Thank you for the NOR’s honest comments on the Iraq War. Your brutal honesty is most refreshing.
When Bush the Elder placed a draconian embargo on Iraq after the first Gulf War, it was an act of war. This embargo was an act of terrorism because it was intentionally aimed at the civilian population in Iraq by preventing the importation of medicines, water-disinfecting agents, and replacement parts for water treatment plants. As a result, 500,000 to a million people died, mostly children. Pope John Paul II called it a “pitiless embargo,” and the Catechism calls this kind of indiscriminate destruction a “crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation” (#2314).
All that talk by Bush the Younger about disarming Saddam was bogus. It didn’t matter to the U.S. government if Saddam had WMDs or not, because Saddam had to go since he stood in the way of U.S. plans for controlling the Middle East. That’s what this invasion of Iraq is all about: securing Israel, oil, and geo-political control.
I’m amazed that conscientious Catholics can be so naïve, can be so fooled by the lies of their government as it slaughters the innocent. These Catholics are unwittingly advancing the Culture of Death.
The Darby Doctrine of U.S. Foreign Policy
In his letter “Protestant Fundamentalists and Israel” (April), Crescente Villahermosa asked, in regard to the Protestant fundamentalists’ ardent support of today’s Israel, “what biblical prophecies” are these fundamentalists referring to?
According to the fundamentalists, the Book of Revelation foretells the end of the world. The more trouble in the Middle East, the sooner the Battle of Armageddon, the rapture, and the Second Coming of Christ will occur. (The word “rapture” is not in the Bible.)
U.S. foreign policy is based (at least in part) on the dispensational premillennialist and pretribulationist rapture theories of John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century British fundamentalist who broke off from the Church of England to form the Plymouth Brethren.
That Bitter 10 Percent
The mention of terror bombing in your response to Raymond A. Schroth, S.J. (whose letter in your March issue regarded abortion) was gratuitous, at best. Why did you do it? After careful thinking, I have come up with a plausible theory.
One can only assume that you finally had had enough of those readers who oppose your stance on the war. They were dangerous and evil (probably neocons!). They were creating all sorts of difficulty for you and other editors. You had to lash out. You had no other choice but to deliver a preventive attack. One could see how your end justified your means. You were simply defending yourself by attacking. Short of this theory, I could conceive of no other reason for your unprovoked attack on your Iraq-war-supporting readers.
You may offer that you are simply responding to readers’ letters; however, the multiple New Oxford Notes, digs, and unrelated responses in the past couple issues conjure up the image of the smart kid who always has to tell others how smart he is.
To your credit, you reserved judgment on the war for several months, allowing time for the WMD search as well as the 9/11 Commission’s Report. This is one reader who will not cancel his subscription because he disagrees with you on one issue, regardless of how visceral that issue may be. About 90 percent of your magazine goes down smoothly (you’re preaching to the choir here). It’s the bitter 10 percent that compels me to research, reflect, and pray. That 10 percent should help your readers to become better Catholics, and for my money that end does justify your means.
Matthew B. Southern
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
By bringing up terror bombing of innocent civilians, we were trying to instruct Fr. Schroth that there is a direct parallel to abortion. We were assuming that Jesuit Fr. Schroth, like most Jesuits, opposes terror bombing but takes the “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but…” stance. That is why we said: “Imagine someone saying, ‘I’m personally opposed to the terror bombing of innocent civilians on purpose, but….’ It’s obvious that he’s not all that opposed, and he’ll find it acceptable under certain circumstances.”
Our reference to terror bombing was to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the fire bombing of Dresden, both of which intentionally targeted civilians, both of which were acts of terror. We’re not aware that the U.S. has intentionally terror bombed civilians in Iraq. But you seem to assume that the U.S. has terror bombed civilians in Iraq intentionally. Maybe you know something we don’t. We’d be happy to consider your evidence.
Why Mary Wept In the Diocese of Arlington
The plight of Fr. James Haley (“Killing the Messenger” by Michael S. Rose, March) and his uncovering of philandering, homosexuality, embezzling, and outright strange behavior by priests in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, underscores a series of supernatural events that occurred at a parish in this same Diocese a dozen years before these scandals were exposed. Heaven was entreating her sons to reconcile their lives even then.
From November 1991 until well into 1993, a young Associate Pastor named Fr. James Bruse at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Lake Ridge, just outside the Beltway in northern Virginia, was the center of a series of weeping statues (mostly of the Blessed Mother) that wept openly and profusely in his presence and others. The tears began small and privately. The first event occurred at his parent’s home, and then statues in the rectory began to weep until eventually these private tears became full-blown public events.
Fr. Bruse, a shy and timid man by nature, could not have invented a more tortured way to bring attention to himself. A book on the events, The Seton Miracles, can be found at: pwcweb.com/marian/index.
The statues wept profusely during the height of the episodes, warping wooden furniture and sopping carpets. Other incidents included statues of Mary that, when blessed by Fr. Bruse, would change colors before the eyes of the owner. Rosaries changed colors, and there is even the report of at least one medical miracle. Fr. Bruse also bore the stigmata on his wrists, side, and feet. The blood that ran down his arms defied gravity and ran up from his wrists to his elbows, just as Christ would have bled while hanging in agony on the Cross.
Never before in the history of the Catholic Church have so many statues wept in one place at any given time. Literally dozens if not hundreds of statues were involved.
The Pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton at the time of these miracles was none other than Fr. Daniel Hamilton, discovered by Fr. James Haley in 2003 for possessing odd assortments of sadomasochistic sexual torture items, cross-dressing, and transgender pornography that involved she-males.
That Mary made such a profound statement in a Diocese always credited with being one of the most orthodox in the country, only now to be discovered to be just as morally corrupt as the next, is very telling. This Diocese, just outside of our nation’s capital, home to politicians and powerful government and military officials, has been led by a substantial number of spiritually inept priests.
Fr. Bruse always marveled at the miracles of the weeping Madonnas. Average people responded to her deep sorrow by returning to the Faith. It is now clear that Mary’s tears were especially shed for her fallen sons, her priests.
I was a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish during the time of the above events.
Pope John Paul II and Divine Mercy
Thank you for printing my letter regarding the Feast of Divine Mercy (Aprib| and helping to spread this feast day of the Church.
In his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger said the following: “He [Pope John Paul II] interpreted for us the Paschal mystery as a mystery of divine mercy. In his last book he wrote, ‘The limit imposed upon evil is ultimately divine mercy.’ And reflecting on the assassination attempt he said, ‘In sacrificing Himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering opening up a new dimension, a new order — the order of love. It is this suffering which burns, and consumes evil with the flame of love which draws forth, even from a sin, a great flowering of good.’ Impelled by this vision the Pope suffered and loved in communion with Christ, and that is why the message of his suffering and his silence grew so eloquent and so fruitful — divine mercy!”
So according to Cardinal Ratzinger, the message of Pope John Paul II’s suffering was an expression of divine mercy. I noted that George Weigel totally missed this point in his commentary on Cardinal Ratzinger’s homily.
The Church is moving into Central Asia and the Far East, and she is going to carry the message of divine mercy wherever she goes. This is the future of the Church, and God wants it that way. If the enemies of the NOR or anyone else opposes the spreading of this message, then they will be opposing the wishes of God Himself.
The words that come out of a man’s mouth reveal the evil that is in his heart — this is what Jesus taught. Keep encouraging people to go to the Feast of Divine Mercy, and lead people to the Sacrament of Confession, and you cannot go wrong.
Macomb Township, Michigan
"For I Was Hungry…"
In “The Spiritual Hazards of Wealth” (April), Tom Bethell is right in correcting the Church whenever she confuses, replaces, or equates her eternal mission of salvation with temporary matters such as economic conditions. As Bethell says, the primary mission is not about the salvation of this world, but salvation in the Kingdom of God.
At the same time, I wonder if Bethell may have undone his own argument. He said that when it comes to materialistic things, the Church should concentrate on the dangers of wealth rather than its redistribution. However, according to Jesus, one of the greatest dangers of wealth is the loss of our salvation when we fail to redistribute the wealth: “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you have Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me'” (Mt. 25:41-43).
Alleviating material insufficiency will not provide eternal life for the poor, but it may preserve it for the faithful.
Maple Plain, Minnesota
"Why Burden Your Readers With This Nonsense?"
I look forward to the NOR every month. I don’t agree with everything I read, but at least, for the most part, it presents honest, open discourse.
However, I wanted to comment on one recurring subject, that of Thomas Monaghan and his Ave Maria institutions. With five articles (Sept., Oct., Nov., Jan., March), you presented the pro and the con. It is apparent that one side is not telling the truth. Unless the NOR is going to hire an investigative reporter to dig up and compile the facts, the NOR should not have allowed both parties to play the childish “he said/she said” game. I felt like I was watching my teenage boys fight it out in the press.
Both parties should sit down and try to solve the problems outside of the press. If there is no solution, then why burden your readers with this nonsense?
If Monaghan’s Ave Maria University in Florida is truly a work of God, it will succeed. If it is some kind of power fix for Monaghan, then it will fail.
In the March issue you said this was the last article installment on this topic. So let’s not hear anymore of this.
On the upside, keep up the rest of your work. I love it!
Mountainside, New Jersey
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
It’s fascinating how you’re keeping the ball rolling!
Tom Monaghan is a billionaire; he has the money, the power, and the big-shot lawyers. One duty of an independent Catholic press (most Catholic periodicals are sanitized house organs) is to give voice to the underdog, without being unfair to the top dog. Indeed, that’s one reason why we give voice to the victims of clerical sex abuse, why we give voice to the unborn.
You commend us for our “honest, open discourse.” That is precisely what we are doing here. If you think one side is lying, then the decision is yours. We don’t have the funds to hire an investigative reporter, but even if we did, and we came down on one side, the other side would cry foul.
Since the parties have not been able to find a solution, you ask, “If there is no solution, then why burden your readers with this nonsense?” Because it is not nonsense. Ave Maria University constitutes a great hope for orthodox Catholics, in which case you’d want to support it. But if Ave Maria University is founded upon injustice and deception, you wouldn’t want to support it.
Not everything that is truly a work of God succeeds. King Henry VIII had a “power fix,” and he was enormously successful. We could give many more examples.
We hope this explains it, and we do appreciate your last paragraph.
Over the Top
Andrew Messaros’s article “Fr. Fessio’s Next Educational Disaster?: Doing Bad on the Way to the Good” (March) acknowledges the good that is being done in Catholic higher education by Tom Monaghan and Ave Maria University (AMU), at least in the subtitle of the article. From that point on, it is clear that Messaros is a bitter man. His disdain for Fr. Fessio is way over the top. Why all the vitriol? The smell of sour grapes is overpowering.
Let’s look at reality for a minute. Tom Monaghan has spent millions of dollars of his own money to further the cause of Catholic higher education. He has done great things. For no apparent good reason, he was rebuffed by the politicos of Ann Arbor in his initial effort to expand the campus and size of Ave Maria. The original Ave Maria College was in an old elementary-school building. A great opportunity opened up in Florida for this fledgling but noble cause, and Monaghan and the trustees decided it was the right thing to do. Did they handle the delicacies with perfection? Maybe not. So what? It is presumably a very difficult thing to undertake such a move. The fact remains that the majority of professors made the move without complaint. And why not? It is a great thing to be in on the ground floor of such an exciting endeavor.
In today’s overwhelmingly secular cultural environment where places such as Georgetown University disrespect cardinals and disown Catholic orthodoxy, it should be a cause for great celebration to see a place like AMU develop and grow. Frankly, given that Messaros has such a personal ax to grind, I am puzzled why you gave him so much space to air his grievous plaint.
I, for one, am quite excited to see AMU become overwhelmingly successful in Florida, and become a great Catholic light in this time of darkness.
Charles M. Feicht, D.O.
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
You say Messaros expressed himself with “vitriol” in his March article. But he was responding to Fr. Fessio’s NOR article (Jan. 2005), which was certainly vitriolic. Why do you give a pass to Fessio’s vitriol?
You say that Messaros has a “personal ax to grind.” But Messaros had no need to get involved in this controversy, because he secured a tenure-track professorship in neuroscience at The Medical College of Ohio. He could have kissed this controversy goodbye long ago. You say it’s “sour grapes” with Messaros. Sour grapes? The Medical College of Ohio is far more prestigious than any start-up university anywhere. You say the majority of professors made the move to Florida “without complaint.” How would you know that? You don’t! Of the original 10 faculty in Michigan, only two have gone to Florida. The rest have stayed in Michigan or have secured jobs elsewhere. Of those who have gone to Florida beyond the original two, there have been lots of “complaints.” Moreover, have you considered that some of them may have had no choice, given that they were teaching at a small unaccredited Catholic college and couldn’t secure a professorship elsewhere?
You say Messaros is “a bitter man.” He has no reason to be bitter; he’s sitting pretty. Your Editor has talked with Messaros. Your Editor has detected no bitterness in Messaros.
You say Messaros’s “disdain for Fr. Fessio is way over the top.” But what if what Messaros says about Fessio is true? It would be nice if someone could actually refute what Messaros says about Fessio’s behavior. We invited Fr. Fessio to write a letter in response to Messaros, but he has not done so.
Do Not Turn a Blind Eye To Catholic Power-Brokers
I very much appreciate your publishing the pro and con articles on Ave Maria College and Ave Maria University (Sept., Oct., and Nov. 2004, and Jan. and March 2005). They opened my eyes.
We must not blindly follow power-brokers, even orthodox Catholic ones. In light of former Ave Maria College Board member Ralph Martin’s damaging report on Tom Monaghan’s inept administration, the multiple lawsuits filed against Monaghan and Ave Maria administrators, and the Department of Education’s stiff financial penalties for financial mismanagement, it is unconscionable that Ave Maria University’s Provost Fr. Joseph Fessio has attempted to denigrate Prof. Andrew Messaros’s character. Moreover, the fact that Fessio and President Nicholas Healy won’t even admit that serious problems exist is a testament to Messaros’s contention that these administrators are either cold-hearted, incompetent, or both.
How hypocritical it is that we Catholics will boycott corporations with practices offensive to Catholic teaching, but, when it comes to a project organized by a Catholic corporate billionaire — namely, Tom Monaghan — many of us will utterly disregard the disturbing and seemingly incontrovertible evidence of gross human mismanagement and manipulation, even when it involves harm done to the education of children within our own orthodox community. Have we learned nothing from our bishops and the sex scandals when it comes to turning a blind eye for the so-called “greater good”?
Bowling Green, Ohio
Do Not Turn a Blind Eye To Catholic Power-Brokers
I’ve followed the five articles regarding Ave Maria College (AMC) and Ave Maria University (AMU) in the NOR with great interest. As the father of four homeschooled teens, one of whom is currently a student at AMC Michigan, my interest has been more than passing.
As the Editor’s Note at the end of the January 2005 article declared, it is important for readers to “make up their own minds” about the AMC/AMU situation — who’s right, who’s wrong, and how discerning Catholics should respond. With my three other children getting ready to enter college, the need to “make up my mind” is especially important for me as a parent who believes that authentic Catholic education is indispensable.
I had been an enthusiastic supporter of Tom Monaghan’s Ave Maria institutions. In addition to supporting my oldest child’s education at AMC Michigan, I was also a financial contributor to the AMU Florida Founder’s Club and a member of the Board of Visitors at Ave Maria School of Law. Naturally, when I became aware of the dismantling of AMC last summer, I wrote about my concerns to Fr. Joseph Fessio, Nicholas Healy Jr., and Tom Monaghan.
Neither Fr. Fessio nor Mr. Monaghan saw fit to respond to my letter (however, seeing as how Fr. Fessio disparages those who question him, I guess I should consider myself lucky). I did get a response from Healy. Unfortunately, it was one of those canned “thank-you-for-sharing-your-concerns” brush-off letters that public relations departments of large corporations send out to consumers who’ve been rudely treated by an ill-mannered sales clerk. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed by AMU’s response to the reasonable concerns of a parent and (former) supporter.
What then to make of the current state of affairs at AMU? After my experience, and after reading these articles, I believe Andrew Messaros aptly captures my thinking in his March 2005 article when he says: “No amount of institutionalized orthodoxy, external piety, or Vatican choir visits could convince me to entrust the education of my children to administrators such as Fessio who so cavalierly dismiss the legitimate and significant concerns of employees, parents, and students as ‘petty criticism’….”
At one point, I had great hopes for Ave Maria. I no longer do. And I no longer consider Ave Maria University as a place where my children can receive a truly Catholic education.
Richard F. Ryan, Esq.
I’d like to thank the NOR for providing a venue for discussion of the controversies surrounding the founding of Ave Maria University in Florida (AMU) and the treatment of Ave Maria College in Michigan (AMC).
I have been thrilled by Andrew Messaros’s candor in discussing the attempts to close AMC and transfer her assets to AMU. I especially appreciate Messaros’s insight into the methods used by a few powerful men — Monaghan, Fessio, and Healy — to manipulate people and situations in order to achieve their own ends. It is unfortunate that Fessio has felt it necessary to malign the faculty and staff of AMC in order to protect his reputation. Since the terms of their contracts prevent employees of AMC from responding publicly on their own behalf, it is fortunate that Messaros, a former professor at AMC, retains an interest in AMC.
I would like to say a few words about the professors involved in the struggle to retain AMC’s properties and assets. I graduated from AMC in May 2004. I don’t have anything to gain from the continuance of AMC — I don’t expect to work for AMC or make any money off of it. Yet I share the concerns of my professors about the morality of Fessio, Healy, and Monaghan’s attempts to ransack AMC of its assets. I will vouch that many present and former students and parents feel that they have been almost completely forgotten since the Board made its unilateral decision to attempt a move to Florida. During my last year at AMC, numerous assemblies were called to “sell” AMU to the students. Faculty members were also under various subtle and not-so-subtle pressures to move to Florida, as Messaros outlined so well in his November 2004 article. I know that at least one professor due to make the move to Florida insulted those of his students who decided to finish up their course of study at AMC.
Through all of this, many students and professors opted to stay at AMC, even knowing that it could cost them. Those professors who opted to stay have acted with great decorum, refusing for the most part to discuss the situation in front of students, and desiring above all to be able to concentrate on the classes they are teaching, and retain in Michigan the intellectual excitement AMC has always fostered. Yes, they want Monaghan and his crew to leave AMC alone and let it continue to operate past the 2007 deadline Monaghan set for its dissolution.
Despite all the blundering, instability, and uncertainty, Monaghan managed to achieve something wonderful here in Michigan — he started AMC, a community of faith and reason, a place where students want to learn and professors want to teach. How is it damaging to his newest venture to proclaim the success of the one that came before? These professors have a vision for Catholic higher education in Michigan — but they also have more than that. They have the reality. They should be allowed to preserve it without being slandered or belittled.
I have nothing against AMU in Florida, and neither, I suspect, do any of my professors. I hope that it succeeds in its mission to bring about a renewal of Catholic higher education, but it should not require that another faithful, orthodox Catholic school be devoured to bring this about. I fear that if Fessio, Healy, and Monaghan succeed in destroying the good brought about in Michigan, it will be to AMU’s detriment. After all, as Catholics we know that it matters what means are used to accomplish an end. I pray that the future of AMU will not be tainted by its beginnings. And I pray that AMC will not be cut down now when it has barely begun.
I was both a student and staff member at Ave Maria College in Michigan (AMC) for four years, and I have to say I am happy to see the truth about Tom Monaghan’s institutions exposed. It is a relief to see Monaghan’s Ave Maria University in Florida (AMU) finally being revealed for what it really is — a mere experimental Blitzkrieg.
I want to speak regarding my personal experiences at AMC, and what AMC was like in my last year when most of the managerial staff was in Florida. It was a year that allowed much organic growth, with beautiful renovations of a chapel that originally was a grade-school gymnasium (before then, there were only a few patchwork attempts to fix it up). There was a poetry night each week in a nascent coffee house, St. Drogo’s (a project almost squashed by some AMU managers). There was ballroom dancing culminating in a formal ball (which has become an annual event at AMC). There was philosophy with Prof. Janet Smith (since departed, but not to Florida), and bonfires at Prof. Henry Russell’s house. There was a poetry contest, and a day-long event on Gregorian Chant. Some of these events were in existence before then, but in my last year they were actually fostered and given support not previously experienced. I am happy to say that these events of beauty and truth continue at AMC.
This organic development of Catholic culture is not something that can be mass produced at breakneck speed; nor can it be purchased by a billionaire. God bless those people who are fighting those dubious characters who are trying to destroy AMC.
I appreciate your excellent coverage, and the honest debate, about the Ave Maria controversy and Tom Monaghan’s educational disasters. I almost accepted a position at Ave Maria College, and so might have been involved in this feud. I’m glad I stayed in New Hampshire.
Warner, New Hampshire
I was formerly employed by Ave Maria College in Michigan (AMC) and for several months was also involved in projects to promote Ave Maria University in Florida (AMU). I have read with interest the series of articles you have published on the conflicts, criticisms, and even legal proceedings that have arisen around the development of AMU from AMC. I do not wish to discuss my position on your articles here, since I have chosen to pursue another forum. Yet I support your publication for giving an opportunity to both sides to discuss the very significant issues that have arisen. The renewal of the ideal of the Catholic university means that everyone involved should carefully scrutinize the process, as well as the result, of such a renewal.
Katherine M. Ernsting
Ann Arbor, Michigan
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