Debate over pizza mogul's Catholic town

After Florida Governor Jeb Bush joined Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan in turning the first sod this month at the new university town of Ave Maria, the American Civil Lilberties Union (ACLU) complained that a religious group was attempting to exercise governmental power in the town.

Catholic News Agency reports that Florida ACLU executive director Howard Simon told local media presenter Tucker Carlson that his organisation's opposition has nothing to do with anti-Catholicism. Rather, he said: "It's a story about any religious group trying to exercise governmental power."

The university and town have been funded by Monaghan.

"You've to make a distinction between just encouraging like-minded people to come and live in the same place with a town organised on religious principles, in which the religious group is given governmental authority," said Simon.

About a year ago, Monaghan indicated that he would own all the commercial real estate, residents would not be able to buy pornography or contraception, and the town would determine what cable system it would have.

Carlson pointed out that towns everywhere decide what cable system it has, what types of stores it will have and if pornography can be sold. "That's called zoning," he said.

Simon continued to defend his position, citing the 10-year-old US Supreme Court decision, which ruled that a group of Hasidic Jews in upper New York state in a town called Kiryas Joel, could not receive government funding because it was organized around sectarian religious principles.

"And when you're required to conform to religious principles, that town is not fitting for governmental authority," he said.

"It's his hand, and if he wants a pharmacy that doesn't sell condoms or the pill, it's not your business. It's not my business," Carlson told his guest.

ACLU opposes creation of 'Catholic town' (Catholic News Agency 23/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Ave Maria University | Ave Maria University and town offically break ground (17/2/06)
Ave Maria, Florida (Wikipedia)

Catholic educators nervous about pizza man's university plans (CathNews 13/2/03)
Inside the Vatican magazine names Top 10 Catholics for 2002 (CathNews 5/2/03)

New Orleans priests rethink future ministry in post-Katrina plan (Catholic News Service 21/2/06)
Liberal archbishop installed in San Francisco (The Tablet 18/2/06)

24 Feb 2006