More details emerging

I have gotten reports from several people in Trumau. They say that all of the faculty laid off this week had questioned the legality of Christiaan Alting von Geusau’s appointment as President last year. Alting von Geusau does not have a theology degree at all, while a doctorate in theology is typically required in order to be named rector of a pontifical theological faculty.

Last year, the faculty was initially unanimous in opposition to Alting von Geusau’s appointment, owing to the questionable legality and the nominee’s lack of qualifications; however, when it became apparent that the appointment would happen, only a few persisted in taking legal recourse. Sources say that all of those professors let go were involved in the legal action.

What is the impact? Students were apparently told that the STL and STD degrees would cease to be offered in all disciplines except marriage and family, and even then only few students would be accepted. The Eastern Christian Studies program now has no faculty, so that will effectively come to an end. The President re-iterated that the STM degree will continue to be a core of the Institute, alongside of the expansion of the liberal arts program, which is the new president’s area of interest.

Students are concerned that the integrity of the curriculum will not be able to be maintained, and some are contemplating leaving.

 

UPDATE:

I have been told that the legal action taken was to form a sort of worker’s union to protect employees under Austrian law from any unjust retaliatory action that the President might take in light of the faculty’s initial unanimous opposition to the President’s appointment.

What is most apparent here is that there is a lack of trust on all sides; and, it would seem, in order to expand in the direction of liberal arts, the serious disciplines in the study of theology at a higher level must be cut. Do pray for the people in Trumau, and the ITI’s continued mission!

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Mass Firings at the ITI

The report from current students has come in. The president met with the student body on Dec. 1st to inform them that, owing to lack of finances, he has laid off the following people effective at the end of the semester:

Rev. Dr. Joseph Veresh, Director of the Center for Eastern Christian Studies
Rev. Dr. Rupert Mayer (fundamental theology)
Dr. William Newton (theology, marriage and family)
Dr. Markus Riedenauer (philosophy)
Dr. Gudrun Kugler (marriage and family)

In addition, several staff, including the assistant to the Dean, a member of the development office team, the gardener, and the repair man were all let go.

This round of lay offs follows the ousting of the previous President Msgr. Larry Hogan last January, who was only given a week to clear out of office; and also of Dr. Alan Fimister (church history, Eastern Studies) whose contract was not renewed at the end of last academic year. The report is that various faculty members are already on record as saying that it is not principally about finances, but rather about “personal disagreements” between the Cardinal and President, and the faculty members in question.

For those of us who know these priests and professors personally, we know them to be upstanding in character and keen in intellect. This is truly a loss for the ITI.

Still hearing details from people, but I am sure the implications of all of this will be made clear in days to come – stay tuned…