Monks at Saint Anselm clash with college board over power

Jan 7, 2020 by

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Monks at a Catholic college in New Hampshire faced off in court Monday against the school’s board of trustees in a dispute over an effort to limit the the monks’ power — a move some worry could lead to increased secularization.

A judge heard motions in Hillsborough Superior Court related to a lawsuit filed against the Saint Anselm College board last year. The unusual clash was set in motion when the board moved to take away the monks’ ability to amend the school’s bylaws.

Michael Tierney, representing the monks, said the school’s charter dictated that they retain the power to amend laws governing the school. The school was set up and run by Benedictine monks for 130 years.

“I’m confident at the end of the day that the court will understand that the monk members maintain the amending power over the bylaws as they have since the legislative charter in 1889 and can maintain Saint Anselm College as the great Catholic and Benedictine institution it is and always will be,” Tierney said after the court hearing.

The board has argued that it has the authority under state law on nonprofit organizations to amend the bylaws. It argues the move is necessary to ensure it has the required independence for re-accreditation.

In a letter to the school community last month, Saint Anselm President Joseph Favazza took pains to suggest the board was not trying to change the mission of the school — as some monks have suggested. He said the move was about meeting the standards set by the accrediting body, the New England Commission of Higher Education and that the college was “fully committed to resolving the remaining governance issues.” “The Board of Trustees has made it clear that in no way do they wish to impede the fundamental role of the Catholic, Benedictine mission and traditions of the college,” he wrote.

Source: Monks at Saint Anselm clash with college board over power | WTOP

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