In the Screwtape Letters, and their several amusing spin-offs by other authors, it is explained that those demons who fail in their missions of temptation and corruption routinely end up as main courses upon the banquet tables of hell. It fits well with the culture of hell that there would be little tolerance for failure, nor any interest in whether failure was actually the responsible person's fault. Hell is the ultimate un-community, a group of angels and souls united in their refusal to follow any authority and willingness to prey upon others.
It is a little disappointing, however, that this tendency towards mutual cannibalism also seems strong within orthodox Catholic circles...
This is brought to mind, again, watching the shockwaves moving out from Naples, Florida after the announcement that Tom Monaghan and the board of Ave Maria University have asked Fr. Fessio to resign his post as Provost immediately. I first caught the story at Pro Ecclesia, which in turn linked to Amy Welborn (whose comboxes bloomed with doom-filled predictions), and Whispers in the Loggia (where Rocco relays speculations -- which seems to me highly unlikely -- that this was the result of a liturgical turf war between charismatics and traditionalists).
Now, I greatly admire the accomplishments of Fr. Fessio, and pretty much everything I've heard about him. Still, it's not as if the AMU board has suddenly announced they're splitting off to start their own church with Monaghan as its head or something.
Maybe spending much of my time working in the corporate world I've become inured to it all, but honestly, an executive shake-up in which powerful personalities clash irreconcilably and one is told it leave doesn't exactly strike me as a sign that the smoke of satan has entered the sanctuary. I suspect that in Fessio and Monaghan, who personalities which both insisted on having their own way came together, and eventually, when neither could bend, the one who didn't write the checks got pushed overboard to find his own kingdom.
However, most people don't seem to see this as an unfortunate but probably minor dust-up between two executive personalities. Instead, most commenters seem to have drawn two or more of the following conclusions:
a) Monaghan is a power-hungry and/or money-corrupted nut job.
b) Fr. Fessio has "a record" of blowing up projects.
c) The entire AMU projected is DOOMED and people better head for the hills and know better than to try to do a Catholic higher education start-up any time again in the near future.
Now, I've got no particular feelings invested in AMU. I've never donated to them and don't really plan to. (Steubenville occasionally gets twenty five bucks or so from us, but until we've got all student loans paid off, I feel no need to donate.) I know some people who went there and really liked it, I know other people who really don't like it for whatever reason.
I guess what I find disappointing is the tendency of all disagreements at a Catholic institution to turn into religious crusades. All sources of contention (style of liturgy, whether to have a dorm with separate male and female wings rather than separate buildings, how late visiting hours should go, whether there should be a core curriculum, whether to building a science building, etc.) all seemed to end up with various groups announcing they were praying for each others conversion, were concerned that no one seemed to care about the Truth, could see how the Culture of Death held sway even in the heart of Steubenville, etc.
Which is not to say that I didn't tend to have opinions in these quarrels, but that they should not have been treated as primarily religious quarrels, when they were in fact administrative quarrels.
Since college, I've seen the same tendency dealing with parish organizations and with certain Catholic ministries/organizations. Somehow, the sense of general culture war and being at odds with the world seems all too often to lend itself to a scorched earth "if you are not with me, you are against me" attitude being applied to everything.
Sure, there are other parts of the overall orthodox Catholic community that I don't like. Charismatics creep me out. Some ultra-traditionalists strike me as waaaay too worried about the Masons. Highly organized small faith communities strike me as too prone to political infighting and abuse. I'm not universally against the death penalty. (I guess I better stop while there are one or two readers I haven't offended yet...) But none of these are articles of faith. We don't need to go to war over them, and no one has to end up on the dinner table over it.
It seems that whatever exactly Fr. Fessio and the rest of the administration's differences were, they've reached the compromise that Fr. Fessio will assume the position of "Theologian in Residence" and both teach courses at AMU and help deal with their study abroad program. What exactly this means about the nature of the original disagreement remains unclear.
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