WASHINGTON, D.C., September 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of Ave Maria University alumni have written an Open Letter to President Towey, upbraiding him for “diluting justice” by publicly refusing to take seriously allegations that high-ranking prelates, including Pope Francis, covered up for and promoted sexual predators like ex-cardinal Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.
“Mr. Towey, your Rift Statement published on the 29th of August has distracted the lay faithful in this decisive hour by obscuring the truth of the scandal at hand, necessarily diluting justice,” they wrote. “You have exacerbated these great wrongs by issuing the Rift Statement on behalf of our university, thereby employing the full weight of Ave Maria’s moral teaching authority as a Catholic university.” (Full letter published below.)
In his original statement, Towey attributed uncharitable motives to Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Viganò as well as Cardinal Raymond Burke, suggesting that the latter was supporting the former because he was angry with Pope Francis for having demoted him. Towey later apologized for this remark about Cardinal Burke and slightly altered the online version of his statement.
The alumni said that they were grateful that Towey had retracted his “uncharitable caricature of certain members of the episcopacy” but that “additional amends must be made” for the “damage” they feel his statement has inflicted on the Church and their university.
The letter-writers positioned themselves and their alma mater firmly on the side of victims of clerical sexual misconduct:
“We know that only in the light of the truth can we continue to purify our Church and work for the healing of all her members,” they wrote. “We desire that victims of clerical abuse understand that Ave Maria stands with them.”
The signers told the victims that they support the USCCB’s demand for an investigation into the allegations made by Viganò.
“We stand with you, we are praying for you, and – although we can never experience the full extent of your suffering – we will suffer with you,” they added.
The alumni concluded with a demand that Ave Maria University “as a whole” retract President Towey’s statement about the Vatican whistleblower’s testimony:
“In order to make Ave Maria’s commitment to truth and justice clear once again, we ask that the University as a whole – not simply her president – make a formal retraction of the Rift Statement made on her behalf.”
There follow 67 signatures.
A spokesman for the group, Washington-based Sean McMahon, Class of ‘13, told LifeSiteNews that he found the former papal nuncio’s allegations “heartbreaking.”
“Monsignor Viganò's claims, if true, are heartbreaking, especially for those victims of abuse but also for the universal Church,” he stated via email.
“It has awakened in myself, and for most of the faithful, a righteous anger and an insistence that this never happens again,” McMahon continued. “Viganò's report must be investigated, and those who are found guilty must be removed from their positions of power within the Church and subjected to all available legal punishments.”
The alumnus said that Towey’s statement was “disappointing and misguided” but also “another example of those in positions of authority and influence in the church perpetrating a culture of silence and cover-up.”
“This is not a fringe issue led by, in Towey’s own words, ‘so-called conservatives’,” McMahon asserted. “Thirty thousand Catholic women have signed a letter calling for the Holy Father to address the claims in Vigano's statement and new bishops daily issue statements calling for an investigation.”
McMahon stated that Towey's ad hominem attack on Burke and Vigano has had a “chilling effect upon those who wish to speak the truth.”
The alumnus was particularly disturbed by Towey’s introduction of church politics into the discussion, for it took the focus from the cover-up of abuse to “unhappy conservatives.”
“It was a ‘nothing-to-see here, only unhappy conservatives who don't like Pope Francis’ [move],” McMahon wrote. “I believe it demonstrates President Towey's disdain for conservatives at Ave Maria and throughout the church.”
He called Towey’s revised statement “nothing more than an airbrushed PR job; the substance … almost entirely remains, including his attack upon Viganò and Burke.”
“I believe it raises an important question for the board of trustees and major donors to AMU,” McMahon added. “Is the university heading in the direction you wish it to under the leadership of the current president?”
He noted that nobody from the Ave Maria University faculty has issued any statement on Towey’s comments or on the recent sex abuse crisis in the Church.
“Is this not surprising from a Catholic university with a graduate theology program and well-regarded theologians on faculty, among many other talented professors?” McMahon asked. “Why are they silent?”
“Could it be because of Towey's malicious attack on a senior churchman raising credible allegations?” he suggested. “If Viganò was attacked so readily, what punishment would a faculty member face if he dared to disagree with the company line?”
An Open Letter to Mr. James Towey President of Ave Maria University September 3, 2018
Dear Mr. Towey:
We address you today out of concern for two of our beloved mothers: our Mother Church and our alma mater, Ave Maria University. As Catholics-scholars, we have been nourished by the truth and given the strength to seek justice. Mr. Towey, your Rift Statement published on the 29th of August has distracted the lay faithful in this decisive hour by obscuring the truth of the scandal at hand, necessarily diluting justice. You have exacerbated these great wrongs by issuing the Rift Statement on behalf of our university, thereby employing the full weight of Ave Maria’s moral teaching authority as a Catholic university. We are grateful that you have retracted your uncharitable caricature of certain members of the episcopacy. However, additional amends must be made for the damage your statement has inflicted upon our Church and university.
We know that only in the light of the truth can we continue to purify our Church and work for the healing of all her members. We desire that victims of clerical abuse understand that Ave Maria stands with them. To them we say, “We understand that you have had to face the truth of corruption within our Church alone for far too long. Today, we commit ourselves as a community to facing these hard realities with you. We thereby support the USCCB’s demand for a full investigation into the allegations raised against key members of the Church hierarchy. We stand with you, we are praying for you, and – although we can never experience the full extent of your suffering – we will suffer with you.”
In order to make Ave Maria’s commitment to truth and justice clear once again, we ask that the University as a whole – not simply her president – make a formal retraction of the Rift Statement made on her behalf.
We pray that God will open our eyes to the truth and give us the courage to pursue the fullness of justice.
The Undersigned Ave Maria University Alumni
Megan Arago, 2013; Annemarie (Velasco) Bauer, 2010; Jeremiah Belocura, 2010; Megan (Bless) Bonynge, 2010; Amanda (Guilinger) Braniff, 2007; Chellsy Brereton, 2005; Veronica Brooks, 2013; Phillip Buckley, 2010; Ryan Caesar, 2015; Erin Wenck Campbell, 2003; Catherine Coats, 2014; Philip Collins, 2016; Christy (Hand) Coules, 2016; Lauren Cronin, 2016; Christopher Decker, 2008; Melissa (Martin) Dillier, 2011; Evan DiMarzio, 2018; Mahluli Dube, 2007; Joseph Embry, 2013; Levi Embry, 2012; Carolina Enzler, 2016; Christianne Fenzl, 2013; Michael Fenzl, 2013; Angela Loweree Gil, 2009; Bryan Gray, 2014; Hannah (Salamida) Guernsey, 2016; Joseph Guernsey, 2016; Joe Harrington, 2016; Rachel (Costello) Harrington, 2017; Michael Higgins, 2008; Teresa (Ratajczak) Jones, 2014; Margaret Kaiser, 2018; Teresa Knauss, 2018; Erin Krajewski, 2016; Agnes Leung, 2017 Angela Leung, 2017; Rosalee Leung, 2015; Stephen Lombardo, 2014; Ashley Loweree, 2014; Gabriel I. Loweree, 2013; Elise McMahon, 2015; Sean McMahon, 2013; Marissa Meyer, 2015; Ruth (Judd) Miller, 2012; Dorothy Monnekulame, 2017; Ian Myers, 2010; Isabel Nolan, 2013; Kevin Nolan, 2013; Daniel O'Rourke, 2016; Donald Vincent Orrico, 2013; Mary Clare Piecynski, 2007; Mary Remaniak, 2011; Miriel Thomas Reneau, 2009; Katherine Rettig, 2013; Catherine (Cox) Romens, 2007; Therese Saunders, 2015; Mary Joy Silmaro, 2017; Laura (Ascenzo) Su, 2010; Christopher Suchomski, 2009; Tatyana Talamas, 2009; Michelle Obray Vallery, 2009; Conor Voreis, 2015; Hannah Voreis, 2016; Alex Wilson, 2015; Ally (Mechling) Wilson, 2015; Daniel Whitehead, 2014