In Defense of Ave Maria

I should like to respond to Dr. John Hittinger's letter (titled “Ave Maria Fallout“) in your July 20-26 issue.

It is correct that the only campus that Ave Maria University of Michigan operated was that of St. Mary's College. However, parents and friends should be aware that this is a distinct entity from Ave Maria University of Florida, which begins operations this fall at a site in Naples with a projected enrollment of some 100 students, including students from Ave Maria College.

Over our three-year period of operation, Ave Maria invested $150,000 in new books and periodicals, which met or exceeded any commitments we made to St. Mary's library.

Dr. Hittinger's statement that the expenses of St. Mary's “were never over budget” is simply not accurate. In fact, during the two years Dr. Hittinger served as dean, actual operating and capital expenditures exceeded the budgeted amounts by more than $1.1 million. Indeed, the total ongoing deficits (averaging more than $1.5 million per year) were far beyond what a development effort could be expected to cover.

Regarding Dr. Hittinger's implication that St. Mary's employees were mistreated, all faculty members were on contracts for one year or longer, and all have had their contracts honored. Therefore, we did not treat these faculty as “at will” employees.

Furthermore, North Central Association accredited St. Mary's College (and has given candidacy status to Ave Maria College), implicitly approving our approach to faculty status and governance. In fact, when Ave Maria University of Michigan took over operations of St. Mary's College, a retirement plan was added, which previously did not exist, and salaries for faculty and staff were raised significantly.

Thomas S. Monaghan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

The writer is chairman of the board of Ave Maria University.

Secret Meeting ‘Outed'

Thank you for reporting on the so-called “confidential” meeting of some bishops and others (“Dissenters’ Secret Bishops Meeting,” July 27-Aug. 9).

My good sense-tells me that secret meetings have something to hide. Secret meetings cannot be called to accountability.-This must not be allowed to become a precedent to build “alternate” or-unaccountable “powerbases.”

At a time when our Church in America is suffering from collapsed leadership, some bishops entertain meetings under cover with-peo-ple of-unknown agenda and notable hostility to Church doctrine and Catholic life, while the intent of our faithful is to preserve-the Catholic faith and their fidelity to Christ, both of which are-now under relentless assault.-Our faithful-do not need-distracting, confusing-or let alone-secret controllers fragmenting, sidetracking our bishops’ conference.

What we are for is-unifying and-strength-ening-the Church's-hand, as we-all-need the true voice of Christ, who calls us to union with himself and [who calls] strangers to repentance.-Our own faithful people in the pews, at home and in the workplace need confirmation in the faith and in their true witness to Christ,-whose divine authority-gives clear and sure direction-by our true bishops and in union with the lawful successor-of Peter in Rome.

Gratitude and prayers for your work. Your continued fidelity and vigil are commendable. We ask you to-remain alert and continue to help us to keep “watching and praying” with-the suffering Christ in his Mystical Body, our Church.

FATHER L. STEPHEN GALAMBOS, O.F.M.

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Vocations to Sanctity

Two articles in the July 27-Aug. 9 issue — “Mom Prayed and God 'Turned the Lights On,’” and “A Small Football Player with Big Faith” — are incredible witnesses to family life. Both guys come from solid families.

St. Thomas teaches that grace builds on nature, and-there is no-better place to nurture Christian and human formation than in the Christian family. When our Holy Father came to St. Louis in 1999 he said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation.”

It seems safe to say, after reading proof of this, that solid families produce solid heroes, and one can safely add-and-solid vocations to sanctity, whether as priests, religious or laity.

FATHER WILLIAM C. KEEBLER JR.

Penfield, Illinois

Imitation Love

In you editorial “Massachusetts’ Marriage Mess” (July 20-26), it was fair for you to write that we shouldn't dismiss all homosexuals as pariahs. We should treat homosexuals the same as we treat those who masturbate or couples who use contraception and all others who by their disordered acts destroy their capacity to love. They need to be loved and helped to repent so that they can learn to love and live chaste lives in keeping with their human dignity.

But my problem with your editorial is that you affirmed the lie that some homosexual relationships are based on love. Christ and his Church aren't against homosexual acts because love is “rarely” found in them, but rather because those acts are totally antithetical to love.

If you truly love a person, then you don't lead that person to violate the natural law just so that you can selfishly satisfy your lustful desires. When you say that people who do that “love” each other, you blaspheme, because sacred Scripture says that God is love.

On the other hand, there was some good in your editorial. Thank you for bravely telling of the evils in the homosexual lifestyle and for calling the voters to action. For that I commend you.

LAWRENCE MARTIN

Chicago, Illinois

Abortion Amplifications

Just two clarifications from the article “Pro-Lifers Press on With Agenda After Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Victory” (July 20-26). The article mentioned the educational efforts of Priests for Life in showing what abortion looks like and then spoke about the Silent No More awareness campaign, which shows the harm abortion does to women.

Lest anyone think these two efforts are in any way in opposition, I'd like to point out that Silent No More (www. SilentNoMoreAwareness.org) is a project of two organizations, Priests for Life and the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life. Moreover, Priests for Life has, from the beginning, joined with the many other groups who have insisted that society must understand that what harms the baby harms the mother, too.

On another point, the article mentioned that we have commissioned medical diagrams of two abortion procedures. For accuracy, may I point out that those procedures are the dilation and evacuation (D&E), the most common second-trimester procedure, and also the suction-curettage method, the most common procedure overall. The article inadvertently misquoted me on that.

I would also add that while I used to say that we had won the argument with the public about the humanity of the child, a closer look at the situation will reveal that the public is still largely confused about how well-developed the child is in the first 10 weeks, when most abortions occur, and even more confused about the violence abortion inflicts on that child.

FATHER FRANK PAVONE

Staten Island, New York

The writer is national director of Priests for Life.