Friday, March 03, 2006

ABC News interview with Tom Monaghan and Barron Collier chief executive Paul Marinelli

Watch the video here


At 1:22 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

So who is responsible for this "misperception"? The anti-Catholic media liberals? No. It is Mr. Monaghan himself. In May 2004 he said:

"We'll own all commercial real estate... That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won't be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria Town. We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town. If you go to the drug store and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won't be able to get that in Ave Maria Town."

And, when asked about possible ACLU lawsuits earlier this year, Monaghan said:

"That's great. That would be the best publicity we could get."

But now Mr. Monaghan claims that people are 'misperceiving' this comment... that the bans have always pertained to the University only and not the Town. How could his comments, made proudly in many Catholic venues, possibly be 'misinterpreted'?

When the ACLU lawyer's rattled their sabres, and developer partner Marinelli saw the Catholicity of the town as potentially hurting the bottom line, Monaghan & Fr. Fessio quickly folded, blaming bad media coverage as they did during their backpeddling on the original glass-skinned hot-house chapel design. In fact, Martinelli, Monaghan's 50/50 partner, said "I think it would be boring if in fact it [the Town] was all Catholic."

I mention this not as the sideline commentator who points a critical finger, but rather as one of many former employees who, along with students and parents, experienced poor and unethical treatment arising from a gross disconnect between what Ave says/thinks that she is, and what she actually is and does. Mr. Monaghan's backtracking on the town, and failure to blame anyone but himself for 'misperceptions', demonstrates that disconnect once again.

This venture is about return-on-investment, not a loving engagement of Catholicism with culture, and certainly not about facilitating a Catholic academic community. Many people have turned a blind eye toward the dysfunction in this Ave venture thanks, in large part, to the whoring that goes into securing access to Mr. Monaghan's money. Fr. Fessio wants souls for heaven, Monaghan wants to feel good about being rich, professors want their pet projects bankrolled, incompetent yes-men administrators want a job, the Colliers want profits - people seem content to use each other for their own individual, disconnected, and narrow perception of 'the good'.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Mscience, I wish this were not true, but I often don't get what I wish. Once again you have proclaimed the truth of the situation in an uncompromising manner. I know, I was there too.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

Mr. Monaghan and Fr. Fessio like to talk about how faithful the University is to the Magistrium.

The Bishop of Lansing, after offering strong and faithful support to the creation and building of AMC Michigan, said to Mr. Monaghan on April 21,2004 "I urge you and your Board to exert your influence for the continuation of Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti." What was their response? Fr. Fessio conducted secret negotiations to sell-off AMC to Madonna University, even after assuring parents and students just weeks earlier that they'd graduate with AMC diplomas. That plan bombed thanks to lawsuits and threats of lawsuits. After more repeated promises by Mr. Monaghan this past year to keep the school open through 2007, administrators recently announced premature closure of AMC in a few short months.

And what of the grand Ave Maria Oratory, originally billed as the largest church in North America? What does it say about faithfulness to the Magisterium when Mr. Monaghan refuses to have his church come under the local Naples Diocese, and, instead, have Fr. Fessio control it. How ironic that 'unabashidly Cathoic' AMU can't have all the sacraments administered in her own church. Mr. Monaghan and Fr. Fessio preach submission to Magisterial authority, but refuse to submit their own project to it.

Again, my intent is not to simply be critical of people who dream big Catholic dreams. Rather, it is to underscore the disconnectedness from reality, the unaccountability, and the profound self-induced scotoma (blind spot) that accompanies the Ave administration's denial of deep problems and their forceful suppression of criticism.

At 10:22 PM, Blogger J. T. Corey said...

Mscience, you seem to be ignoring the fact that TM admits to having misspoke here. You raise valid points, but reading the same story you do, I see him saying "I was wrong" where you seem to see him saying "I was misunderstood."

At 9:47 AM, Blogger mrbooks said...

J.T. you are correct in regard to this interview, but previous to this "misunderstood" was the assertion on at least three occassions. Even in this interview, after correctly admitting that he "mispoke," he reverts again to the "misunderstood" point, saying he was only refering to AMU, not the town. However, unless the reporters did indeed severely misquote him, his original statement included the whole shootin' match. We can accept the apology, but we will have to ignore his disclaimer.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Don't get me wrong...

There are those of us who have been around Ann Arbor long enough to know the controversy that has always swirled aroung TM. We also know stories of his great generosity and dedication to the Church even though we have focused on the negatives of his most recent venture.

Just one example: the aging Benedictine sisters who operate Agnus Dei Academy in Whitmore Lake. TM's connection with them goes back to St. Michael's in Dixboro. For many years, he funded their school (St. M's then AD) with few questtions asked. He provided the school bldg when they moved to Whitmore, rennovated the building, and covered all their costs above whatever tuition was received -- often actually subsidizing the majority of students there. Now, even though they were cut off of regular foundation support like the rest of the entities, he has not cut off the nuns themselves. They have been guaranteed a place to live and a quite adequate allowance to live on for the rest of their lives.

So, don't get me wrong. I know TM is not a man without a heart, as do many others who contribute to this blog. Indeed, I suppose that is what makes some of his choices and actions all the more confusing and disturbing to us.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

jtcorey - In the ABC interview, when asked to reconcile the new claim of 'misperception' with his earlier 'we will own/control' statements, Mr. Monaghan said "I said those words, but I was out of place." But later in that interview, when asked if he wanted to dispel the myth that this will be a Catholic town, Monaghan said "I don't know where that idea [of a Catholic town] came from."

So, again, whatever small admission he might have made at the beginning was blown at the end. He really doesn't know where the idea of a Catholic town came from?!

This ABC reporter was the only interviewer that forced this question on Monaghan. The emphasis on the other TV interviews was "misperception".

But, let's go ahead and concede that Mr. Monaghan heartily admits to 'misspeaking'. Does one 'misspeak' repeatedly in multiple venues, in newsletters, in fund-raising letters, at fund-raising event, and in newspaper interviews over a period of many months (even years)? This was not a single overzealous comment in the heat of a Catholic men's conference. Marinelli says that thousands of people have already started pursuing property in Ave Maria Town. And how many of these did so expressly because of Mr. Monaghan's comments concerning the catholicity of the town?... comments that we now find out were "out of place".

Several scenarios seem plausible...

- Marinelli & Monaghan have had, to date, a genuinely incomprehensible communication gap about the Town/University relationship

- M&M are backtracking on the catholicity of the town based on bad PR & ACLU threats (both of which hurt the bottom line)

- Monaghan knew that banning contraception would never be possible, but lied to Catholic audiences to drum-up support for their venture

Whatever the case, you can't put lipstick on this pig. Mr. Monaghan's disconnectedness with the reality of the town is consistent with how out-of-touch he is with the reality of the College/University's problems.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger kmte said...

When I first heard Tom Monaghan's comments about no birth control and no abortion (these were quoted by a Baltimore reporter several months ago), I couldn't help reacting as I always have in the past: that this is a great witness.

In fact, my sentiments were much like the ones represented in the concluding statements in the article I have excerpted below, from "Holy Roman Empire" on TCS daily.

But the problem is that a mixed witness can be very damaging, and can defeat the very purpose the witness is trying to achieve. Yes, it's good to take a stand for the dignity of the person and for a culture of life. Such a stand is hard to take, and TSM has taken it before. Now the divide between him and Barron Collier seems to confuse the message. And what about the dignity of the person? Does this count for everybody, even donors, faculty and employees? Still, I pray that the witness of Ave Maria University holds against the negative witness of modern culture, which is why I am not adverse to helping stimulate a little repentance and renewal. It would be great to have AMU and AMSOL be the kind of shining cities on a hill that is envisioned in the article I mentioned below. Humility, submission to other authorities (such as the diocese of Venice and Lansing) and a sincere desire to seek, live by and uphold the truth can always help. It's easy to see your problems as stemming from a hostile, secular world or a bunch of negative employees, but it can be better to find what God has to say to you about how you can be a real light to the world and seek His help with it.

by James Pinkerton

Here's where the Catholics can say, "We've seen this before -- and we had a pretty good response." Back in the sixth century, after the fall of the Roman Empire, one Italian, Benedict of Nursia, didn't just bemoan the collapse of the world around him, he did something about it. He created a world of his own: the monastery at Monte Cassino. In honor of his vision, he is known to us now as St. Benedict the Great, the father of Christian monasticism. For hundreds of years thereafter, through the darkest of the Dark Ages, monasteries were the chief custodians of Western Civilization, until more traditional political authorities had restored some semblance of law, order, and prosperity, thus permitting cities to flourish once again. Is this particular epoch of history due for a repeat? Let's hope not, but let's hope that some people, at least, have a plan for surviving even the worst calamity. In the meantime, it's interesting that the new Pope has chosen the name Benedict -- one wonders what he knows.

At 6:12 AM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

kmte said - "Still, I pray that the witness of Ave Maria University holds against the negative witness of modern culture, which is why I am not adverse to helping stimulate a little repentance and renewal."

I think you're confusing two things. First, "the witness of AMU" is not synonymous with "the witness of the Church and her moral teaching authority" to modern culture. My whole point is that Mr. Monaghan's PR efforts and perception have attempted to make the two synonymous... and that, in fact, there is a great disconnect between what is proclaimed and what is done. Mr. Monaghan has repeatedly used the notion that donating to AMU is akin to donating to 'the Church', and that supporting AMU is akin to supporting the Bride of Christ. I'll stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you and Mr. Monaghan in defending the Church's moral teaching authority to modern culture... but AMU has no such authority when it can't even get it's own moral house in order.

Second point - "repentence and renewal" can only come after recognition of wrong doing. We do not foster the pathway to repentence (ie. the turning away from wrong-doing) by mitigating the destruction of acts before the person has even admitted to any wrong-doing (much less to the existence of even a problem). We can personally forgive and pray for people who have done wrong to us... but that doesn't mean that we should, in public, mitigate the fullness of the destructive act's damage past, present, and future.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger kmte said...

--I have no disagreement with any of the points you have made in the last posting. In fact, as I said I am doing my best, in another venue (two, in fact). I think that what I am saying is that Tom Monaghan--like every other Christian--has the opportunity and responsibility to make public witness by the way he lives for Christ. His status as a public person means that what he does is noticed and often publicized, but he is still only one man.

Lay people can start universities or hospitals and can do so in a way that can also give witness. But that can't happen for more than a short time unless others are involved--others who share the vision and the values and who are making a sincere gift of themselves--not doing something urged or coerced or even bribed out of them. I believe strongly that it is the Body of Christ that serves God's plan of bringing the world to Himself most effectively. It can't be the witness of one man, however good, or the creation of one man. I'm not saying what the creators of AMU understand or don't understand about this principle, but it's one that will rule the outcome of their enterprise. Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain...

At 11:46 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

From: Okeechobee News
By: Pete Gawda
March 7, 2006

"Mr. Sansbury [Tom Sansbury; VP, Barron Collier Companies] stated that the university would follow Catholic standards. However, he said, the community would be diverse. He said Ave Maria would not be a Catholic town any more than South Bend, Ind., the home of Catholic Notre Dame. He also made the comparison between the community and university of Ave Maria and Boston and Holy Cross College.


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