Restorationist Jesuit Transferred
SAN FRANCISCO (SFBayC) In the latest move to prevent Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. from disrupting the religious studies program at the Jesuit run University of San Francisco, the Jesuits have assigned him to Southern California to a hospital ministry position. Conservative elements within the American Catholic Church have characterized the priest’s transfer as a form of punishment and exile. Some are calling for organized protests.
The Jesuit Order has assigned Father Fessio as an associate chaplain at Santa Teresita Hospital in Duarte, a suburb of Los Angeles. In an interview for San Francisco Faith, a Catholic On-line monthly, Father Fessio admitted that his transfer was announced after his superiors were informed of his attempt to found ‘Campion College’ a new two year Catholic Conservative College in San Francisco. The new institution would have no ties with USF.
According to Fessio, his superiors gave him instructions that he was not to have any role in the founding of this new college. From the San Francisco Faith article it is unclear that Fessio will abide in keeping his distance from the formation or promotion of this new independant Catholic Institution.
Fr Fessio had been the founder of the Ignatius Institute, a program of the University. Critics at USF had complained that the Ignatius Institute was not in step with the overall program and mission of the University and was engaged in promoting a traditionalist agenda in competition with the USF religious studies program. Defenders of the Ignatius Institute and Fr. Fessio contend Catholic Liberalism has infected the University and the Jesuits. They contend that the Ignatius Institute promoted orthodox Catholicism with a focus on loyalty to the magisterium of the Church and this was the real reason that the Institute was reorganized.
In 1990 USF reorganized the Ignatius Institute and updated its mission bringing it more into line with modern Catholic theology and thought. This attempt at reforming the Ignatius Institute resulted in an appeal to Rome by Fr. Fessio and Church conservatives. The appeal was heard and Rome backed the University. The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education called for collaboration and stated that Ignatius Institute was a program of the University and the University had the right to modify it as it sees fit.
The attempted founding of Campion College by Fr. Fessio was seen by some as an attempt to get around the Vatican Congregations decision.