I'm certain Monaghan has a good heart or least he thinks he does. Uprooting a law school from one state to another; or firing a top university official for calling out his superiors on gross heresies regarding the form of the Mass; or running a foundation like a one man show forces one to raise legitimate questions about motive.
It certainly isn't unprecedented. For proof, here's this article from the National Catholic Reporter from over a decade ago, where a baron at Miller Beer squandered his nest egg on fruitless enterprises. Forgetting the Biblical warning to be not of this world, Harry John decided to impose his views on the world; while pretending somehow the real world didn't exist. Read the whole article, but here are some examples of John's quirkiness:
- When the Catholic schools in Milwaukee refused to adopt John's imposition of a very conservative version of the catechism, he pulled their funding. He also got into a war of nerves with the liberal bishop of the city, Rembert Weakland.
- He tried to start up a Catholic TV network, based on what he thought was Vatican teaching (not necessarily that it was). He fired one executive for missing Sunday Mass, and cancelled an interview with Michael Landon because he was divorced. The station never get off the ground due to internal infighting.
- He also tried to run a movie studio -- also, without much success.
- He went on numerous treasure hunts for sunken ships with foundation money -- to the ire of the IRS. One of the ships that he gave up on turned out later to have the motherlode -- about a billion in gold.
Oh, by the way, John had a high flying style of living that would make a lot of Protestant televangelists proud. He also decided to invest in junk bonds and precious metals rather than more conservative investments. In one bad year, his foundation's nest egg dropped by about half. And one of his most influential advisors? No less than Joe Fessio, who's at the centre of the current battle royale at Ave Maria University.
Eventually, John was found in a civil suit to have grossly mismanaged his foundation and engaged in stock manipulation. He found a way to get the last laugh, however -- even with his very odd funeral.
I'm not suggesting that Monaghan has done anything that is illegal, nor have any of his other critics (as far as I know). What I am saying is that there are time-honoured principles in running faith based enterprises; among them that there is independent auditing to ensure money -- whether one's own or other people's donations -- is well spent. It's little wonder why people like Benny Hinn and Robert Schuller are not members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Or why Catholic givers seem to think they're bound by different rules just because they think the Pope is King of the World.
When in fact it's Jesus of Nazareth. It all goes back to Matthew 6:2 -- "Be not as the hypocrites." Sometimes, people like John and Monaghan make me embarrassed to be Roman Catholic, and with good cause. Their kind of "almsgiving" is not what I learned about at school.
But I stay. Why? "It's because of the stories," as author and priest Rev. Andrew Greeley would say.