Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ave Maria University Provost Fired

Comments On Homosexuality In Unborn Babies The Cause Of Dismissal?

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Joseph Fessio has been asked to step down Wednesday as provost of Ave Maria University and to leave the campus immediately. The 66-year old Catholic Jesuit priest, who once studied under the current Pope Benedict, has been involved in the University since its inception.

The University is saying Fessio was asked to step down as a result of "irreconcilable difference over administrative policies and practices." Father Fessio says he doesn't know why he was asked to leave and disputes any differences over administrative policies he may have had with University officials.

Fessio is the editor of Ignatius Press, an ultra conservative Catholic publishing house in San Francisco founded by Fessio in 1978. Ave Maria University is funded mainly by multi-millionaire Thomas S. Monaghan, the founder of Domino Pizza. Monaghan's vision is to create an ultra right-wing Catholic University.

This is not the first disagreement Fessio may have had with superiors. According to a story published in the California Daily News, in 2002 Fessio was moved from a position at the University of San Franciso's Saint Ignatius Institute which he founded, to the Santa Teresita Hospital in Duarte where he was assigned to work as a chaplain in what was reported as a "punitive" move ordered by his Jesuit superior. Prior to the move, Fessio founded the now defunct Campion College in San Francisco. His superior ordered him to cease all ties to the College and moved him to the hospital chaplaincy work.

Fessio's comments on homosexuality may have put him in hot water here after they were published on a Christian website this month and also in the California Catholic Daily where Fessio says there's a possibility that a biological basis for homosexuality may be found. He reportedly is saying that if a tendency to homosexuality is detected early in an unborn baby's life, there may be possible "treatments" found to change their sexual orientation. He said, "Same-sex activity is considered disordered...If there are ways of detecting diseases or disorders of children in the womb, and a way of treating them that respected the dignity of the child and mother, it would be a wonderful advancement of science." Most conservative Christian groups say homosexuality is a behavior "choice" and not a result of biology.

Most likely, this attitude might conflict with the views of University founder Monaghan. Some critics of the Monaghan administration say the religious teachings are akin to a religious cult, and that faculty members regret working there in fear of the volatile atmosphere under the heavy-handed rule of Monaghan.

For more information on Monaghan's conservative Catholicism: Tom Monaghan and Ave Maria University

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