Sunday, September 2, 2007

When a church isn't one? When it's run by Tom Monaghan

HT to AveWatch: Things just seem to go from bad to worse for Ave Maria University. Its law school in open revolt, with a majority of its graduates demanding the reinstatement of some recently dismissed law professors apparently let go for no other reason than Tom Monaghan hates them because they don't fit into his view of "Catholicism" (and most conservative Catholics would, I think, readily disavow this conservative's brand). Monaghan actually called these profs "academic terrorists."

But it gets better -- much better. The Diocese of Venice, Florida -- which includes the dictatorial town of Ave Maria, outside of Naples (one of only two in the state, the other being the district that includes Disneyworld) has ruled the "oratory" at the University is not a church. In fact, the university isn't even Catholic. You read that right. It's not allowed to perform any sacraments other than reconciliation or communion on its campus. It's not even allowed to call itself a Catholic university without approval, but does anyway.

Monaghan has waited three years for this sanction but it's still being withheld in part because even priests -- who tend to be more conservative than the laity -- are scared by just how far to the right the man is. (For example, Monaghan is anti-union; interesting to note, however, that in that other "dictatorship" town the employees of you-know-where are represented by the Teamsters.)

And now, controversy over something much more serious: What started as an altercation in a parking lot and probably just a misunderstanding has now led to charges of sexual harassment (i.e. a pat on the arm was, it is alleged, escalated into sexual touching). And the guy doing the firing is the same guy who couldn't explain how child pornography wound up on the university's mainframe (the best he could come up with was a non-employee hacked into the system, who just happened to be a Catholic priest). This last one really irks me because, although I don't know what happened, sexual harassment is a very serious charge and it needs to be investigated rather than just accepted at face value.

If I ever have kids, I'm going to tell them to stay away -- as far away as they can -- from AMU. Georgetown, Notre Dame, Gonzaga -- those are the real Catholic Universities. Maybe I'm hoping they might want to get married on campus; at least I'd like to know the wedding was sanctioned by the Church, which ain't gonna happen in "Ave Maria Town."

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