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Catholic Culture Overview

Ave Maria and the new Eden

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. ( articles - email ) | Sep 04, 2003

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The Boston Globe has a story today on the opening of Ave Maria University in Florida this week. It gives the short version of the story of its founding, talks about Tom Monaghan, interviews some local kids who are going there. But then, for some reason, the reporter has to find a negative take. I think they call it "balance."

Catholic scholar Eugene Kennedy, a seasonal Naples resident and professor emeritus at Loyola University in Chicago, dismissed Monaghan's plans for a "new Eden for Catholic education."

"In this new Garden of Eden, there will be, as in Genesis, a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, whose fruit the students will be forbidden to eat," Kennedy recently wrote in the National Catholic Reporter.

"We lost our lease on Eden a long time ago, and this effort to build a new one couldn't succeed even in an old movie directed by Frank Capra, 'Mr. Monaghan Goes to Naples.'"

Huh?! Meeeow! Kennedy is suggesting that students who go to Ave Maria will be brainwashed and that they won't be allowed to learn anything outside of a rigid dogma. Unwittingly, Kennedy makes Monaghan's point for him. To Kennedy, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was something Adam and Eve were right to eat from. But the lesson should be that not all academic pursuit is good in its own sake. Just take, for example, the bioethicisit Peter Singer's studies into whether infanticide or bestiality should be frowned upon by society. Does Kennedy really expect a Catholic university should give a home to academics who spit in the face of moral truth? How about giving a neo-Nazi a place on the faculty?

Then the article goes on to hint that Ave Maria, the school and the accompanying town, have a nefarious purpose of being a playground for -- duh, duh, duuuh! -- the rich!

Monaghan's educational Eden will also include more earthly pursuits, including three golf courses, one of which will be reserved for high-paying donors -- a place he's referred to as a "Catholic Augusta National."
Good Lord, not golf courses! In Florida even, where there are more golf courses than people! If this is the best they can come up with, Ave Maria is going to do just fine.

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