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Fessio’s dismissal came one day after recent statements he made were published in an article in the California Catholic Daily titled, “Hey, Hey, Baby Gay! What Do You Do? What Do You Say?”
His statements were also published on March 2 on the personal Web site of one of the country’s preeminent evangelist leaders, the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr.
In the article, Mohler suggested that there was a “possibility that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven,” the Associated Press reported. Mohler’s argument was endorsed by Fessio.
According to the California Catholic Daily article, “research strongly suggests that sexual preference is biologically determined in animals, and possibly in humans.”
“Same-sex activity is considered disordered,” Fessio said. “If there are ways of detecting diseases or disorders of children in the womb, and a way of treating them that respected the dignity of the child and mother, it would be a wonderful advancement of science.”
University officials wouldn’t comment on the article. It is unclear if Fessio’s statements were connected to his dismissal.
A 4:30 p.m. private convocation was held Wednesday inside Stella Maris, a chapel and multipurpose room, where students and faculty learned more about Fessio’s dismissal.
Students and faculty began gathering earlier Wednesday afternoon to protest the firing at Ave Maria’s interim campus at the Vineyards community in North Naples.
About 100 students prayed outside the student union building, many holding rosaries. A few wept.
Many students said they were upset, especially some seniors who said they wanted to graduate with Fessio present.
“The idea of walking in May without him there is just unbearable,” said Mary Jones, 27, a senior.
Jones and many other students demanded an explanation of why he was fired.
“The father deserves one and the student body deserves an explanation as well,” she said.
After the convocation, Jones was among many students who remained dissatisfied with the lack of specific explanation of why Fessio was fired.
Rebecca Craig, 20, a junior, said that what staff told students and faculty at the private convocation was “meaningless.”
More than 100 students and staff gave a standing ovation, calling for reconsideration.
“I think it’s unanimous we all love Father Fessio,” Anthony Jay, 22, a senior, said.
Jay started praying the first rosary, but soon started crying and couldn’t finish it.
Ave Maria was set to open one phase of its main campus later this year. It will be the first Catholic university in the United States in 40 years.
PHOTO: Garrett Hubbard/Naples Daily News