In yet another stunning example of the fact that merely offering the Traditional Latin Mass does not make Traditionalists out of neo-Catholics, Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, has joined the effort to "shoot the messenger" who's making credible accusations of sexual abuse and cover-ups against Catholic prelates.
Apparently “unqualified fidelity to the Church” means “blind cult attitude, and proud!” to Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University. Here's what he said yesterday:
Statement by President Jim Towey Regarding The Rift Within The Church
August 29, 2018
There is nothing new about the rift between Pope Francis and some conservative members of the Church hierarchy. The battle lines seemed to have formed five years ago shortly after the Pope ascended to the chair of Saint Peter. In 2013 in his first major publication, The Joy of the Gospel, the Pope described confreres who “ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style.” Recently he quoted these same words in a letter to the faithful, Rejoice and Be Glad, and described “false prophets who use religion for their own purposes, to promote their own psychological or intellectual theories. God infinitely transcends us; he is full of surprises.”
Yes, God is full of surprises. But the call for the Pope’s resignation by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’ is not one of them. Neither is the challenge to the Pope’s authority by Raymond Cardinal Burke, an American prelate who has consistently opposed the direction Pope Francis has led the Church on certain matters (and may still be smarting from the Holy Father’s decision to remove him from his prominent position as head of the Holy See’s highest ecclesiastical court). The release of the Archbishop’s manifesto seemed timed to inflict the maximum damage possible to the Pope’s credibility, and the choreographed chorus of support by others in league with them, was just as troubling.
Contrary to the popular narrative, most conservative Catholics are not following suit and embracing their defiance, and certainly not on our campus. Ave Maria University is rightly known for our unqualified fidelity to the Church. We do this not because we are conservative (we are) but because this is the requirement of discipleship. This explains why our students love Pope Francis and support him wholeheartedly. He is the successor to Peter and our spiritual father. He bears the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Conservative Catholics may legitimately disagree with Pope Francis’ take on everything from the environment and capitalism, to marriage and family. Such dissent is healthy for the Church when properly channeled and respectfully communicated. But when Church dissent becomes openly hostile and rebellious, and some members of the hierarchy assert their opinions as if they were elected pope instead of Francis, faithful Catholics like our students will rally to the Supreme Pontiff’s defense.
Pope Francis has admitted that he failed in his own response to the clergy sex abuse scandal and its cover-up. We forgive him. He wasn’t the only one to be charmed by now-disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick; Saints John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta also knew Cardinal McCarrick personally and were deceived by him, too.
At a time when the Church is roiled by scandal occasioned by so many within the hierarchy who failed us, personal attacks against the Vicar of Christ and calls for his resignation are wildly divisive and patently wrong. Those so-called conservative Catholics who now challenge the Holy Father’s legitimate authority and openly undermine his papacy, are betraying their own principles and hurting the Church they profess to love. They should stop now.
REMNANT COMMENT: Now, let me get this straight: A credible accusation of sexual abuse, predatory behavior and ecclesial cover-up, leveled by a former nuncio of the Holy See, is -- according to the president of this upstart university -- nothing more than a "personal attack" which is "wildly divisive" and "patently wrong”. One wonders how many more kids and seminarians will have to be sexually assaulted before President Towey takes this seriously.
This is a surprising statement coming from Ave Maria since, as everyone knows, many of these little Catholic schools are already under the gun for allegedly not doing enough to protect their students from sexual predators on campus. Up until this point, I had considered those charges unfounded. Now I’m not so sure, at least in the case of Ave Maria.
After all, Archbishop Vigano has put his entire career on the line and is now in hiding, fearful for his life--such was the urgency and seriousness of his attempt to expose a massive coverup for sexual predators. Now why would he do that if there isn't at the very least a strong possibility that his accusations are well founded and based on facts?
In any case, that the president of a tiny university in South Florida would take it upon himself to dismiss such credible charges of sexual abuse leveled, not by some anti-Catholic hack but by a Vatican nuncio -- taken seriously by everyone from EWTN to Fox News to even the New York Times-- is as arrogant as it is dangerous.
Pardon me, President Towey, but who exactly do you think you are! What about the victims? Is your university somehow up to the task of launching an investigation of Archbishop Vigano's charges to make absolutely certain he’s not, in fact, telling the truth? Has your investigation already taken place? What evidence can you provide to support your contention that Archbishop Vigano's efforts to protect victims of sexual abuse are "wild and wrong"?
If you have no evidence, then by what authority do you make such reckless dismissals of a highly-respected Archbishop’s accusations—accusations, by the way, which the Church's own statutes insist must be considered "credible", given the rank and reputation of the accuser.
And if you succeed in silencing this messenger, then what? We'll never know the truth. So if Francis is innocent, why not call for a full investigation of these charges in order to clear the Holy Father's name? Why are you so afraid of the truth? Why are you trying to cover this up in a classic case of shooting the messenger?
And another thing: After such a pompous display of virtue signaling and total disregard for truth, for the reputations of two princes of the Church and for the suffering of potential victims of sexual abuse, why would any parent consider putting his or her child in Ave Maria University?
In fact, until the President of Ave Maria retracts his statement and publicly apologizes to both Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Vigano, we who have supported Ave Maria enthusiastically in the past will cease to endorse AMU as one of the Catholic options for higher learning such as Christendom College, Franciscan University, Thomas Aquinas College, Wyoming Catholic, etc.
Ave Maria is out, and we call on the Newman Guide to remove this university from its list until it establishes a reputation for greater concern for the victims of sexual abuse.
Zero tolerance, President Towey. Remember? Either apologize or resign!
Since posting this article, I note that the Cardinal Newman Society on Twitter has done the right thing regarding Ave Maria University. Here is their tweet: