Ave Maria president amends statement denouncing ‘defiance’ of pope

Venice, Fla., Aug 31, 2018 / 04:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- One day after issuing a statement denouncing what he called the ‘defiance’ of Pope Francis by “so-called conservative Catholics”, the president of Ave Maria University revised that statement and issued a letter explaining his intent.

“I want to make very clear what my August 29th statement intends to do,” Jim Towey wrote in an Aug. 30 letter to friends of Ave Maria University.

He said his desire “is to defend Peter, not simply Francis.”

Towey noted that “the Chair of St. Peter isn’t a political office.”

Christ “gave the keys of the Church to Peter and his successors,” he wrote. “This divine institution transcends temporal affairs. The Church’s foundation depends on unity between the pope and bishops. While perfect unity is not possible to effect in a world of sinners, all of us in the Church must desire it.”

The university president said he is aware of the history of curial corruption and knows “the difference between fallible persons and the underlying offices that they occupy.”

“People are entitled to their views on Pope Francis and his pontificate. My concern is with how we express our views and act upon them during this dark controversy.”

Towey said his concern “is with the prudence of the public, coordinated release” of Archbishop Viganò’s testimony.

“Can one archbishop be prosecutor, judge and jury and call for a resignation of the pope?”

Towey also defended the legitimacy of questioning “the appropriateness of airing grievances of this nature in a public manner.” He cited the 1990 instruction Donum veritatis of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which advised theologians against turning to the media when they have tensions with the Magisterium.

“What was said in the context of commentary on magisterial documents seems to apply as well as to the public criticisms of the Holy Father and his actions,” Towey wrote. “The Archbishop here publicly accused the Pope of ‘grave, disconcerting and sinful conduct’ and called for him to resign. In my view, this conduct crossed the line, and a defense of the Holy Father was merited.”

He added that “my gratuitous comment about what might have motivated Cardinal Burke’s conduct … was not merited.”

In his Aug. 29 statement, Towey had written of “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).”

In his emendation of the Aug. 29 statement, the parenthetical reference to Cardinal Burke’s removal from the Apostolic Signatura was omitted.

“Such speculation was unfair and His Eminence deserved better,” Towey wrote in his Aug. 30 letter. “He has been a friend of Ave Maria University since its founding and is renowned for his sincere love of the Church. I will amend my statement on the web site, and I apologize.”

Towey said that Church unity “is vital today more than ever before,” and, referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that “the Pope has primacy, and that the unity of the pope and the bishops is the very foundation of the Church.”

“You and I must work toward that unity and avoid any potential schism that might mortally wound the body of Christ,” he wrote.

Towey affirmed that the case of Archbishop McCarrick “raises troubling questions that demand answers. For the record, I support the initiative within the Church to vigorously examine the evidence. What His Eminence Cardinal DiNardo proposed seems appropriate.”

He said he grew up believing “that we should love whoever our pope is and give the benefit of the doubt to him whenever it is reasonably possible to do so. I see no reason why Pope Francis doesn’t deserve this benefit now.”

“I remain confident he will comment at the appropriate time on what has been published, and also lead the effort the Church needs to protect children and vulnerable adults from clergy sexual abuse, and hold those who perpetrate such acts or cover them up within the hierarchy, accountable. Let us all pray for him.”

Pope Francis responded Aug. 26 to a journalist’s question about Archbishop Viganò’s testimony, saying: “I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested: Read the statement carefully and make your own judgement. I will not say a single word on this. I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions. It’s an act of faith. When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak. But, I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you.”

The original version of Towey’s Aug. 29 statement has been removed from Ave Maria University’s website, and has been replaced with an emended version. The original is, however, available on cached sites.

In addition to removing his parenthetical speculation about Cardinal Burke’s motivations, the updated version of Towey’s statement removed from the opening line the word “conservative” as predicated of some members of the Church hierarchy: “There is nothing new about the rift between Pope Francis and some conservative members of the Church hierarchy” in the original now reads “There is nothing new about the rift between Pope Francis and some members of the Church hierarchy.”

The emended version of the statement continues to refer twice to “conservative Catholics”, once to “so-called conservative Catholics,” and it affirms the conservatism of Ave Maria University.

Towey’s letter also refers to his Aug. 24 statement regarding the crisis of clerical sexual abuse and its cover-up by Church authorities.

He wrote in his letter that the scandal “touches very close to home,” as a family member, while in high school, was abused by a seminary deacon.

Towey said the deacon was ordained a priest and “only when three women went public many years later was he removed from active ministry.”

“Five other victims came forward shortly after he was removed from parish life,” Towey wrote. “He has never acknowledged his wrongdoing to any of the victims, remains a priest to this day, and receives a monthly pension check for the 22 years he preyed on the vulnerable while wearing a Roman collar.”

“I intend to continue to press for justice in his case, and as a lay man, to participate in the reform of the Church so that priests like him are held accountable,” Towey stated.

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  1. Towey’s “amended” letter is an utterly transparent CYA maneuver so that he can hang on to his cushy position and pretend that his pathetic Pizza University is somehow a conservative Catholic institution now that the outraged peasants are at his front door with pitchforks. Peter does not need the defense of a hireling who attacks “conservative” (aka orthodox) Catholics, like Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Vigano. Archbishop Vigano’s accusations that Pope Bergoglio is guility of “grave, disconcerting and sinful conduct” are of the utmost importance and have been put forward with verifiable names, dates, places, and documents that in justice demand investigation, verification, and, above all, the most serious consequences for all guilty parties. The “disunity” and “schism” that “wound the Body of Christ”, as Towey so smarmily puts it, is precisely that which suppresses and dismisses truth and attempts to cloak sin, hypocrisy, lies, and narcissism as “prudence”. Towey should be publicly fired by his Board and his conduct officially condemned as obstructing justice if his University is to salvage even a shred of its former reputation.

  2. As regards this analysis: If our Church survived all of that (murder, torture, adultery, the Cadaver Synod, the selling of the papacy, etc.), she will survive the troubling events of today. Sleep tight. We’re going to be OK, folks.
    This: Of course true the Church & Faith Christ bequeathed will survive Her enemies, but possibly not due to insufficient quietistic complacency. As to Church history, seems notable that of all Her rogue antipopes & popes, none sought, until the current fraud, to repudiate the Faith in order to replace it with a formal system more amenable to their depravities. Bergoglio’s efforts would be unique in that regard had Ratzinger’s abdication been valid, but is so even for a prominent antipope.
    Yet also unique (closest to it being the Chair’s vacancy for nearly three years until Celestine was elevated, who failed to govern, & then abdicated – validly – six months later, whereupon a new pope was soon after chosen; so only some three plus years sans a functioning government on that occasion) is Benedict’s contention he could establish a dual papacy, &, since he hasn’t such authority & is thus still the pope, no less unique is his refusal to govern these past five plus years and counting.
    Perhaps that’s providential, tho, in light of the overwhelming post-war clerical apostasy & corruption that gave us the manifest failure of Vatican II; for by bursting the boil it wanted to institutionalize, Bergoglio’s faux papacy has instead provided the real possibility of cleansing that corruption. This is so since, tho unlike Bergoglio they were believing Catholics, the ecclesiastically (not to say clericalist) weak rule of Montini, Wojtyla & Ratzinger only kept the infection percolating, as their like would also have done.
    No more. In fact, despite the monstrous horrors afflicting the world & especially the Church in this hour, there is almost something thrilling because decisive about them: no longer necessary to read Gibbon or Newman to discover, as St. Jerome put it, a world that ‘awoke & groaned to discover itself Arian.’ Then, like now, all but a handful of the entire world’s episcopacy had declared their heresies or publicly acquiesced to them, including for a while the pope of that time, tho then chiefly from weakness, over against our current antipope’s undisguised enthusiasm.
    The Faith’s first declared Doctor of the Church, one Athanasius of Alexandria, was of course the most notable ecclesiastical exception to that season’s clerical assault on the Faith: but as Bl. John Newman’s extraordinary scholarship reveals, t’was overwhelmingly the faithful layfolk, not Her prelates, that first resisted & then overcame what was, until now, arguably history’s most substantial clerical assault on that Faith after Constantine had declared Her legal.
    So tho we may not – albeit oremus – live long enough to see the Church rise & once again vividly & replendently show unto the world & the faithful God’s truth, & thus love, or how the corruption & infidelity is going to be overcome this time, what Providence has provided is the opportunity, as It did our courageous & faithful forbears, neither to be in despair nor complacent about that ultimate triumph; but to reject the quietist temptation by working with God’s Grace to fight for that cleansing, & thus against the Faith’s enemies & their apologistslike Mr. Tomey, until it is achieved.
    In unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam ecclesisam…

  3. “This divine institution” was created by Jesus Christ and left in the hands of fallible men. Men being men, they will mess it up, but Jesus Christ promised He would always be with us to step in when He felt it necessary. Is this one of those times? (Please excuse the rhetorical question.)

    “The Church’s foundation depends on unity between Popes and Bishops.” This is very true, but the Church’s foundation ALSO depends on the laity having trust in the Popes and Bishops, to the extent that I would argue that the latter is the more important of the two. As for the Bishops, the Cardinals and the Pope – they have first to acknowledge that they have betrayed us and then they must work to regain it. The time – not too long ago – when a Catholic layman would automatically believe anything a Religious said is, sadly, passed.

    History teaches us that reform in the Church starts with the laity, and it is up to us. Prayer and fasting, Novenas, and Masses of reparation is a good start. This can be fixed.

  4. I choose not to amend the quote Of the boy-child crying out to Joe Jackson in the by comparison trivial Black Sox scandal of 1919. “say it ain’t so Joe”.

  5. The article reports that “Towey also defended the legitimacy of questioning “the appropriateness of airing grievances of this nature in a public manner.” He cited the 1990 instruction Donum veritatis of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which advised theologians against turning to the media when they have tensions with the Magisterium.” Given the gravity of the scandal facing the Church – the worst in its history – one would think that Towey and others would be more focused on transparency and justice for the thousands upon thousands of victims than some ridiculous “directive” that serves little more than a way of hiding the perverse ugliness that currently resides within the Church of Christ.

    The report further states that ‘Towey noted that “the Chair of St. Peter isn’t a political office,”’ yet, those surrounding the Chair are making every attempt to use politics to deflect and discredit what has been reported by Vigano, rather than to support a full, transparent, and completely independent investigation into his claims.

    No one can know the legitimacy or lack thereof as regards Vigano’s claims, but one is relatively confident at this point that the depraved sexual, emotional, psychological, and spiritual abuse of children and seminarians by McCarrick was a well-known fact within the Church by some at very high levels. These same high-level individuals chose to turn a blind eye and ignore what was happening and now some of these very same people are doing everything in their power to discredit someone (Vigano) who has come forward.

    If the Chair of Peter is so sacred, then it must be defended; not however by deflection and derogatory attacks against those who are calling into question the actions of an individual currently residing in that Chair, but rather by fully investigating the claims made so that he and others may be properly cleared of any false accusations, or, if found to be true, then, to be properly and justly dealt with.

  6. It is Francis, who prior to being elected pope, condoned same-sex sexual relationships, and thus same-sex sexual acts, as long as they are “private, do not include children, and are not called marriage”, and thus, according to Francis, “there is neither a third party, nor is society affected”.

    “It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due to The Unity of The Holy Ghost (Filioque).

    Catholics are called to be “Temples of The Holy Ghost”, our call to Holinss, is a Call to be chaste in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds. For Catholics, there is no such relationship as a “private” relationship; private morality and public morality cannot serve in opposition to one another.

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