October 10, 2011
Several pieces of news this morning.
In Egypt, there are disturbing signs that persecution against Coptic Christians is increasing. (This is a key reason Pope Benedict has called for an inter-religious day of prayer in Assisi later this month, on October 27.)
In Europe, the banking crisis has taken a more serious turn, as the Belgian bank Dexia has been nationalized.
In Catholic journalism, a major news agency, Zenit, is in turmoil. At the same time, small but important Catholic magazines are going out of print.
And in Catholic education, the long battle of Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, to receive recognition officially form the local bishop as a Catholic university has ended with the granting of that recognition on Friday by Bishop Frank Dewane, of Naples, Florida.
Violence in Egypt
A Coptic Christian march yesterday against ill-treatment of Christians in Egypt turned violent.
As many as 19 persons are believed to have been killed, including three military police. More than 150 injured, including dozens of policemen.
At this link, there is a description of the latest violence: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/23714/Egypt/Politics-/Coptic-march-turns-violent.aspx.
Christians, mostly Copts, make up about 10% of Egypt’s population, and have been present without interruption in Egypt since the time of the Apostles. About 90% of the population is Muslim.
The march turned violent when about 10,000 marchers were attacked by stone-throwing mobs. Some of the Coptic protesters fought back and hurled stones at their assailants. Gun shots were fired in the sky. Panic ensued.
Later yesterday evening, Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, posted on Twitter that he saw 17 bodies in the morgue at the Coptic Hospital.
So far confirmed as being among those killed are Mina Daniel, an activist and blogger; Wael Yunna, a journalist for Coptic TV; and Michael Mosaad, an activist and member of the Maspero Youth Coalition.
The protest was organised by the “Maspero Youth Union,” a group of young Coptic activists, to protest against the recent violations against Copts. The protesters chanted: “Raise your head high you are a Copt,” and “No to burning of churches.” Chants were also directed against the army, such as “The people demand the removal of the Field Marshal [Tantawi],” and “Tantawi, where is your army, our homes and churches are being attacked.”
Many of the protesters held huge crosses, one of which was dressed in army garb with a banner stuck on it saying “We thought the army will unite us, but they divided us.”
Last month in the village of Merinab, in Aswan, Muslim villagers attempted to block renovations underway at a Christian church. They claimed that the building was a “guesthouse” that cannot be turned into a church
The concern of Pope Benedict, and Assisi
The Holy See is following these developments with concern.
Pope Benedict has repeatedly spoken out on behalf of peace and against any form of religious persecution, particularly in the Middle East.
“This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities,” Pope Benedict said at the beginning of this year.
This is one of the key reasons the Pope has decided to call for a “day of prayer” in Assisi, on the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s controversial “day of prayer” with representatives of other religions in Assisi in 1986.
Some, understandably, fear that the Assisi meeting represents a type of “religious syncretism” which is not in keeping with Catholic truth, and are even planning a meeting in Fatima, Portugal, on the same day, limited to Catholics.
But the aim of Assisi is not religious syncretism, it is to engage in a respectful, reasonable dialogue with other men and women about religious persecution, and about ways to limit such persecution, which is affecting so many Christians in our world today.
It is an effort to open channels of communication in the hope of building the presuppositions for peace, and in this sense, it is important and positive initiative.
The Banking Crisis
The nationalization yesterday of one of Europe’s leading banks, Dexia of Brussels — a bank which had performed well in recent “stress tests” and did not therefore seem destined to fail — suggests that there remain massive hidden problems in the world’s banking system.
Dexia was regarded as one of the stronger banks of Europe. These banks, collectively, have been pummeled in stock markets in recent weeks. The stock prices of major Italian, French, Spanish and other banks (also Bank of America) have collapsed due to fears that their potential losses, especially in the event of a default by Greece, will wipe out their shareholder equity.
Dexia will not go bankrupt — but only because it is being backstopped by government money.
Beware, as there is more to come…
The underlying problem
The underlying problem, of course, is debt.
The debt in the world banking system (and we should be clear that apparently vibrant China is no exception; however, Russia seems to be in one of the better positions as far as unecumbered capital), including the counter-party obligations in the huge mountain of un-regulated “derivatives” which has emerged over the past two decades, is colossal.
What does this really mean? Essentially, it means that the future profit of many years of productive work have, in a real sense, already been consumed.
It means that investment and growth in the future will have to be curtailed (recession, depression) because, like a college student borrowing $100,000 to study at university, who won’t get out of debt and start a family until he is 40, we won’t get out from under this burden for many years.
We have, as it were, “eaten our seed corn.”
This is the dilemma every farmer faces: he must SAVE something from his harvest, in order to plant the following spring (in a sense, this “saving” is the creation of “capital” which is the very essence of “capitalism”), but he must also get safely through the winter, as food grows short, in order to be strong enough to plant in the spring.
This often creates a dilemma ’round about February, when supplies run low.
Should he start to eat in February even that seed corn he had set aside for planting in March, or April, or May?
Of course not. For if he yields to that temptation, he will have nothing left to plant. And he will then certainly starve.
So every farmer throughout history has always had a self-imposed sense of discipline about “keeping the seed corn” and not consuming it.
The seed corn is sacrosanct. It means the future. It is not to be consumed even at the risk of starvation.
But our modern, globalized society, financially speaking, has “consumed the seed corn.”
We have expended the productivity of, not just one future harvest, but many.
And this is why we face a crisis.
In fact, when we say the US national debt is $14.5 trillion, what we are really saying that we have committed our children to pay back this debt.
Our children, our future citizens, will have to pay back our public debt… or that debt will have to be defaulted on.
And the problem we face is that the current obligations — the debt — is very great indeed.
Some believe we can “grow our way out” of the debt, adding population, and discovering new technologies, until our capacity to produce wealth outpaces even these great debts.
But that has not been the trend. The trend has been, in recent years, demographic stagnation and decline, and the rapid consumption of the cheapest, most accessible sources of energy, especially oil (this explains the focus of the world’s governments on the oild-rich territories of the Middle East).
The only really practicable and just solution seems to be a partial default on the debts owed — the “haircut for everyone” solution.
It would be a solution in some ways comparable to the farmer deciding to eat just a bit of his seed corn, knowing he will reduce future harvests, but recognizing that he needs to eat some of it or he won’t be strong enough to plant.
It is a decision he knows is a bad one, but the alternative is worse.
It is a choice of the “lesser evil.”
If we face a choice between, on the one hand, an outright collapse, the breakdown of the global financial system, followed by a terrible period of totalitarianism, martial law, and war, and, on the other hand, a reduced standard of living for the world for a period of time, perhaps a decade, the second solution, though not good, is preferable.
The preferable solution would be one in which all, including the bankers, would share the burden of the poor decisions of the past, rather than socializing all of the problems on the backs of national economies (that is, on taxpayers), who would then be burdened for decades in order to repay these debts.
Obviously, in this perspective, the solution will have to be political, not simply economic.
Politics will have to decide who takes the burden, when the system starts to crumble.
Reason and a Christian sense of justice dictates that the burden should be shared.
“We will see in Purgatory”
In this connection, a recent heartfelt article by a friend, Michael Brown, editor of the popular website Spirit Daily, puts our present economic issues in a certain perspective. He writes:
OUR SAD TIME: ECONOMY HAS VIOLATED BASIC TENETS OF CATHOLICISM AND TOYS WITH RUIN
By Michael Brown
There is a sense out there — is there not? — of holding back: You don’t want to spend what you used to.
Everyone has drawn to a more conservative stance because no one knows what will happen next (and not just economically).
One hears this all the time: folks are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
There is The Great Uneasiness and that uneasiness is because we know in our spirits that for a few decades we have been living in a bubble (of falsities)…
It has always been our opinion that capitalism is a great system when it is based on conservative Christian values — and when it is as it used to be: a system that rewards those who contribute the most to society (as opposed to finessing it).
How things have changed…
Folks with mathematics degrees from fashionable schools have invented all kinds of bizarre new financial “products”: collateralized debt obligations, credit swap debts. There are negative amortized loans in which you buy a home but pay less than usual in interest and as a result your principal increases. Or, there are loans in which you pay interest only (really, you own nothing)…
So, banks lent money or mortgage originators gave mortgages that were less substantial than air and made money doing so not just from the extraordinary interest you pay (a person often pays nearly as much in interest as the cost of a home over the period of thirty years when all the interest is tallied) but from the fees they collect by tranching and selling pieces of your mortgage — for example, the interest — to those who are willing to take a risk that the rate will increase and buy the interest on mortgages like a lottery ticket.
One entity out there may own your interest, while another is backing your principal — by borrowing from another bank, which also generates a fee. Our mortgages have been securitized: turned into bonds and “securities.” Chips at the poker table. Meanwhile, there are loan originators that are not banks and are not even subject to normal banking regulations…
This indicates a structure, and society, that is artificial…
Our financial system is not rational. Should it even exist, in anywhere near the size that it is? It has been turned into a game played by math whizzes who use Byzantine formulas to concoct constantly new opaque “products.” There are securities that even Alan Greenspan says he doesn’t understand. This all started up during the 1980s when deregulation of the financial community — and a dire lack of oversight — allowed all kinds of entities, from pension funds to insurance companies, to join in as the holders of mortgages, as they do any stock out there…
Games are played. Paper is shuffled back and forth. It is poker with ever-changing cards. For at least three decades, wealth in our nation has been materialized out of thin air and now that bubble, the balloon, is leaking badly.
Notes an analyst for Moody’s: “We may have encouraged financial institutions to grow in ways that do not directly facilitate or enhance the reason for having a financial system in the first place”…
“Our society is way off base…”
Our society is off base — at least if you study the precepts of Catholicism.
For Catholicism and its saints have long preached that one should not charge as much as one can (soak the consumer for everything one can get) but rather sell an item at a price that simply and only tallies the money spent on creating the product and the actual hours one put into the effort.
We live in a society where squeezing as much as you can out of a fellow human is considered smart business.
We’ll see in purgatory. It is not the Christian way…
Here is paragraph 2424 of the Catechism:
“A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable. The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order.
“A system that ‘subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to the collective organization of production’ is contrary to human dignity. Every practice that reduces persons to nothing more than a means of profit enslaves man, leads to idolizing money, and contributes to the spread of atheism. ‘You cannot serve God and mammon.'”…
Capitalism is a fantastic system — when backed by Catholic morals.
The old law was that people were compensated for what they contributed honestly.
Now, it’s the opposite.
Those who manipulate and have assumed control over our financial community sell air and often walk away with billions, even though they not only didn’t contribute, not only didn’t invent some incredible new product, not only didn’t serve anyone, but took advantage of millions…
“The development of economic activity and growth in production are meant to provide for the needs of human beings. Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community. Economic activity, conducted according to its own proper methods, is to be exercised within the limits of the moral order, in keeping with social justice so as to correspond to God’s plan for man” (Catechism 2426).
Go ahead and figure out how much interest you have paid on your house — in all probability, to someone who didn’t even have the real money to lend (just the financial positioning). Or who holds that second lien (sometimes, on a negative-amortization loan).
“It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit” (2414).
While there is currently a clamor for deregulation, it was ironically the opposite — deregulation, in the financial community, in the Eighties and Nineties — that has led us to a false economy, a false standard of living, and the brink of a true crisis.
We are not at the end of it…
— by Michael H. Brown
ZENIT’s Editors Resign
And now a piece of news which is both happy and sad at once.
It concerns the turmoil at the Zenit news agency, which was founded in 1997 by Jesus Colina, a Catholic layman from Spain who lives in Rome with his wife and three children.
I have known Jesus since 1991, for 20 years. He is a colleague and close personal friend.
Indeed, when he was about to launch Zenit in 1997, at a time when the internet was still new, and the worldwide web and email were still in their infancy — hard as it may be to remember those days — he proposed to me that he do the Spanish-language version of Zenit, and I do the English-language version. I thanked him for the offer, but told him I did not want to become a slave to the daily news cycle, and would just continue to bring out Inside the Vatican as a monthly magazine. He said, “Well, I’ll try it for a year and come back to talk to you again.” And he did come back after a year, and I still did not join him.
So we went forward on similar, but separate paths, as writers and journalists in Rome.
Colina created an international news agency, which eventually reached hundreds of thousands of people via email and employed 50 or more people.
From the beginning, Zenit was closely linked to the Legionaries of Christ. Colina had spent time in Legionary centers of study in Mexico, and had come to know well the founder of the Legion, Father Marcial Maciel. In those years, he told me that he admired Maciel greatly, and Maciel clearly regarded Jesus highly, choosing him to carry out a book-length interview with him that became very widely read within the Legion.
Then the first allegations against Father Maciel emerged. Former Legionary seminarians — 11 of them — came forward to accuse him of having sexually molested them, something he vehemently denied.
Many Legionaries in Rome, some of whom were my friends, sincerely doubted that these accusations were true, as they told me at the time. Colina also told me he felt sure that Father Maciel was being slandered because of the good work the Legion was doing for the Church.
I felt bound, as a journalist, to report the accusations, as well as Father Maciel’s denial. The decision to publish this in Inside the Vatican had a cost, as several friends, including Colina, felt I had been naive, had been “taken in” by false allegations that would now be given more credibility in Rome because I had printed them in Inside the Vatican.
The years passed by. Father Maciel was asked to spend the last months of his life in prayer. He passed away in Jacksonville, Florida. More facts about his life emerged. And the Legion has been in a prolonged crisis ever since.
The Legion’s long crisis has become an important concern in the Church, and in the Vatican. The hope, of course, is to identify and preserve what was good in the Legion, while pruning away all that needs to be pruned away — a difficult task, and a delicate one.
The latest news about the Zenit news agency is that Jesus resigned two weeks ago as the head of the agency he founded, and today all of the other six language edition editors have announced they too are resigning.
The meaning of this is clear: the editors have given a vote of confidence to Jesus, choosing to leave with him from the agency he founded.
The moment is a sad one, but there is also hope.
All of the editors, led by Jesus, are about to launch a new project, called Aleteia, which is intended to become a major Catholic resource on the web. More on this in coming days.
Here is the news release on the latest changes at Zenit:
ROME, OCT. 10, 2011 – The six editors of ZENIT’s news service announced their resignation Friday, citing differences with the planned direction of the news agency as an institutional organization of the Legionaries of Christ.
Gisèle Plantec (French), Mirko Testa (Italian), Inma Álvarez (Spanish), Karna Swanson (English), Alexandre Ribeiro (Portuguese) and Tony Assaf (Arabic) have all informed the CEO of ZENIT, Alberto Ramírez Puig, of their departure. The position of editor in German is vacant.
In a statement signed by the six editors, and addressed to ZENIT readers, the editors state, “After years of fruitful collaboration with the Legionaries of Christ, we disagree with the decision of the congregation to underline the institutional dependence of the agency on the Legion.
“The initial vision of ZENIT was never to make it a service of a particular congregation, but rather of the universal Church. This has been the spirit with which we have worked throughout the years, and the spirit we could not betray.”
“We warmly thank all our readers for their loyalty and support throughout the years, and we hope to be able to continue to work for the Church and for all those who seek the truth, in another manner, but always with the same spirit,” the note added.
ZENIT is a news service promoted by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, who have expressed its desire to change the identity of ZENIT from an independent news agency at the service of the Church to one with a more institutional dependence on the congregation.
In 1997, Jesús Colina founded ZENIT and asked the Legionaries of Christ to act as spiritual advisors to ensure fidelity to the magisterium. For the past 14 years, the agency has worked independently of the congregation.
Colina was informed earlier this year that the Legionaries wanted to change the identity of the agency, and asked for his resignation, which he tendered Sept. 27.
At the time, he cited a lack of mutual trust and transparency between himself and the Legion, in both editorial and financial matters, and a fundamental disagreement with the future direction of ZENIT.
ZENIT publishes in seven languages and sends its daily service to some 450,000 subscribers.
* * *
STATEMENT OF ZENIT’S EDITORS
The six current language editors of ZENIT (Karna Swanson in English; Gisèle Plantec in French; Inma Álvarez in Spanish; Mirko Testa in Italian; Alexandre Ribeiro in Portuguese; and Tony Assaf in Arabic), are announcing our departure from ZENIT, with great personal sadness, and after many years of serving the Church and our many loyal readers. [The position of editor for the German edition is vacant].
After years of fruitful collaboration with the Legionaries of Christ, we disagree with the decision of the congregation to underline the institutional dependence of the agency on the Legion. The initial vision of ZENIT was never to make it a service of a particular congregation, but rather of the universal Church. This has been the spirit with which we have worked throughout the years, and the spirit we could not betray.
We warmly thank all our readers for their loyalty and support throughout the years, and we hope to be able to continue to work for the Church and for all those who seek the truth, in another manner, but always with the same spirit.
I sei capi redattori di lingua di ZENIT (in inglese, Karna Swanson; in francese, Gisèle Plantec ; in spagnolo, Inma Alvarez ; in italiano, Mirko Testa; in portoghese, Alexandre Ribeiro; in arabo, Tony Assaf; il posto in tedesco è vacante), annunciamo con profonda tristezza la nostra decisione di lasciare l’agenzia dopo molti anni di servizio alla Chiesa e a tutti i lettori dell’agenzia.
Dopo anni di feconda collaborazione con i Legionari di Cristo, deploriamo la decisione della Congregazione di sottolineare la dipendenza istituzionale de l’agenzia in questa nuova fase. Il progetto iniziale non voleva rappresentare una congregazione in particolare, ma tutta la Chiesa. É lo spirito con cui abbiamo lavorato per tutti questi anni e non possiamo tradirlo ora.
Ringraziamo di cuore tutti i lettori e speriamo di poter nuovamente lavorare al servizio di tutti i cattolici e di quelli che cercano la verità, in un altro modo, ma sempre con lo stesso spirito.
بيان صادر عن رؤساء تحرير وكالة زينيت
رؤساء التحرير الستة في وكالة زينيت العالمية (كارنا سوانسون – الفرع الإنكليزي؛ جيزال بلانتيك – الفرع الفرنسي؛ إينما ألفاريز- الفرع الاسباني؛ ميركو تيستا – الفرع الإيطالي؛ ألكسندر ريبييرو – الفرع البرتغالي؛ طوني عساف – الفرع العربي؛ منصب رئيس القسم الألماني شاغر)، يعلنون، وبحزن شديد، عن تقديم استقالتهم من وكالة زينيت، بعد سنوات عديدة في خدمة الكنيسة والقراء الأعزاء.
فبعد سنوات من العمل المثمر في التعاون مع جند المسيح، لا يمكننا الموافقة على قرار الجمعية بجعل زينيت وكالة مرتبطة مؤسساتياً بجند المسيح. زينيت لم تكن يوماً في خدمة جمعية معينة، بل في خدمة الكنيسة الجامعة. هذه كانت رسالة زينيت وروحها عبر السنين، ونحن لا يمكننا خيانة هذه الرسالة.
إننا نتوجه بالشكر الحار من القراء الأعزاء على أمانتهم ودعمهم عبر السنين، ونأمل بأن نستمر في العمل بالروح عينه، لأجل الكنيسة ولأجل جميع الذين يبحثون عن الحقيقة.
Les six rédacteurs en chef de ZENIT (en anglais, Karna Swanson ; en français, Gisèle Plantec ; en espagnol, Inma Alvarez ; en italien, Mirko Testa ; en portugais, Alexandre Ribeiro ; en arabe, Tony Assaf ; le poste en allemand est vacant) annoncent qu’ils quittent Zenit, avec une grande tristesse, après de nombreuses années au service de l’Eglise et de tous les lecteurs de l’agence.
Après des années de collaboration fructueuse avec les Légionnaires du Christ, ils déplorent la décision de la Congrégation de souligner la dépendance institutionnelle de l’agence par rapport à la Congrégation. Le projet initial ne prévoyait pas d’être au service d’une congrégation en particulier mais de l’Eglise tout entière. C’est l’esprit dans lequel ils ont travaillé pendant toutes ces années et qu’ils ne pouvaient trahir.
Ils remercient chaleureusement tous les lecteurs et espèrent pouvoir se mettre à nouveau au service de tous les catholiques, d’une autre manière, mais avec le même esprit.
Los seis actuales editores de idioma de ZENIT (Karna Swanson en inglés; Gisèle Plantec en francés; Inma Álvarez en español; Mirko Testa en italiano; Alexandre Ribeiro en portugués; y Tony Assaf en árabe), anunciamos nuestra salida de ZENIT, con gran tristeza personal, y después de muchos años de servir a la Iglesia y a nuestros fieles lectores. [El puesto de editor de la edición alemana está vacante].
Después de años de fructífera colaboración con los Legionarios de Cristo, no estamos de acuerdo con la decisión de la congregación de subrayar la dependencia institucional de la agencia hacia la Legión. La visión inicial de ZENIT nunca fue hacer de ella un servicio a una congregación particular, sino a la Iglesia universal. Éste ha sido el espíritu con el que hemos trabajado a lo largo de estos años, y no podemos traicionarlo.
Agradecemos calurosamente a todos nuestros lectores por su fidelidad y apoyo durante estos años, y esperamos seguir trabajando por la Iglesia y por todos aquellos que buscan la verdad, de otra manera, pero siempre con el mismo espíritu.
Os seis atuais editores-chefe de ZENIT (Karna Swanson em inglês; Gisèle Plantec em francês; Inma Álvarez em espanhol; Mirko Testa em italiano; Alexandre Ribeiro em português; e Tony Assaf em árabe; –em alemão está vacante–) anunciamos nossa saída de ZENIT, com grande tristeza, após muitos anos de serviço à Igreja e a nossos fiéis leitores.
Depois de anos de frutífera colaboração com os Legionários de Cristo, não estamos de acordo com a decisão da congregação de enfatizar a dependência institucional da agência à Legião. A visão inicial de ZENIT nunca foi fazer desta agência um serviço para uma congregação particular, mas para a Igreja universal. Este foi o espírito com o qual trabalhamos ao longo dos anos, e do qual não podemos abrir mão.
Catholic magazines to cease print publication
This is not the only turmoil in Catholic journalism.
Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., the head of Ignatius Press, one of the largest publishers of Catholic books in the United States, has announced that, after December this year, he will no longer bring out print editions of two important journals: Catholic World Report, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review.
Both publications will continue in internet (electronic) editions.
In an email explaining the decision, he said the two publications, though vibrant, cost Ignatius Press $200,000 in losses each year, which had to be covered by the press.
By coincidence, I happen to also be an old friend of Father Fessio, and, in fact, in 1991, Father Fessio asked me to help him create Catholic World Report, and I did so.
I was the first editor of the magazine at its launch in 1991. (It was being launched to replace 30 Days, the English-language edition of 30 Giorni, which I also edited from its inception in 1988 until Father Fessio decided to cease publication of it in the spring of 1991.
And in our Rome office in the fall of 1991, as we prepared those first issues of the magazine was… Jesus Colina, who was tasked with bringing out a Spanish-language edition of the magazine which was called Proyeccion Mundial. That is where Colina and I first met and became friends, and began to discuss writing, the media, the faith, and how to present the faith to the modern world. It seems long ago now.
So it is with a certain melancholy that I learned that Catholic World Report will no longer appear in a paper version, but only on the web.
I would invite all readers of either publication to consider taking a look at Inside the Vatican, and perhaps subscribing to our publication, which will continue to appear in the ancient technology of ink and paper…
Ave Maria Finally Recognized
Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, has received official recognition as a Catholic university from the local ordinary, Bishop Frank Dewane.
The university had made a point of trying to adhere to every aspect of the Ex Corde Ecclesiae constitution specifying the requirements of a Catholic institution since it became a university in 2003, but Dewane had refrained from recognizing the school as Catholic until now.
A local bishop is responsible for bestowing this designation on a university, according to the Code of Canon Law.
Dewane told university staff of his decision Thursday, but made the announcement Friday, October 7.
The designation comes just months after the college’s new president, Jim Towey, assumed office in July.
“It was perfect timing,” Dewane said. “Both parties have had time to get to know each other and work some things out. There was time to address some issues that needed to be addressed, and they have been.”
Bishop Dewane also serves as an ex-officio member of the school’s board of trustees.
“This is a nice way for me to go out,” said Tom Monaghan, Ave Maria founder and former Domino’s Pizza CEO, of the Catholic designation, who is yielding the presidency to Towey. He will continue to serve at the university as chancellor.
Towey served as president of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, before coming to Ave Maria. He worked as an assistant to former president George W. Bush and was a director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for four years. He also worked as an attorney for Mother Teresa of Calcutta for 12 years beginning in 1985 until her death.
“After my wedding day, and the birth of my kids, briefing President Bush in the oval office, and driving Mother Teresa in my old Honda Prelude, I’ve been well schooled in the world of pressure,” Towey said, adding that he anticipated some butterflies before his speech Friday.
His goals for the university are to grow enrollment, bringing in 400 freshmen next fall to top this year’s record-setting incoming class of 300. A total of 750 undergraduates study at the university this year.
“We want to swing the doors open to Ave Maria University to promote open debate and diverse thought and invite to our campus people of all faiths and none at all,” Towey said.
The president aims to balance the budget by the year 2014-2015, when Ave Maria shifts from relying on Monaghan’s support to becoming self-funding.
During a speech Friday, Towey stressed the importance of a liberal arts education grounded in Catholic belief.
“When an Ave Maria student graduates, he or she should be able to thrive in the midst of people who do not pray like them, think like them, vote like them or worship like them,” he said Friday. “That is why during my tenure we will look to expand study abroad, service learning, campus ministry initiatives and student internships. The more outside engagement, the better.”