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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The King of Pizzazz

Most people know Tom Monaghan as the billionaire entrepreneur who invented Domino's Pizza, started the first Catholic law school and university in decades, then trashed both of them in order to move both of them to a Catholic town he was building in Florida.

Many Catholics also know that Tom famously fired Fr. Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press, not once, but twice, reportedly over disagreements about liturgy. Old Tom also had enormous trouble getting the local bishop to agree to consecrate the altar at his on-campus glass cathedral, in no small part because he never bothered to seek the local bishop's permission to build the altar in the first place, thus reportedly making it impossible for Ave Maria Town to ever build its own parish around the campus church.

Much more could be said about Tom's escapades, but the President and Publisher of Our Sunday Visitor probably put it best when he said,
“Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first introduce to Tom Monaghan.”
So, why are we dwelling on Tom Monaghan?
Well, watch how the New York Times connected some dots on Valentine's Day in 1999:

For Mr. Monaghan, the late 1980's were a time when his interest in managing Domino's day to day was waning, while his Catholic activism was rising. He underwrote construction of a mission in the Honduran mountain town of San Pedro Sula and paid $3.5 million of the $4.5 million cost of building a cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, that was favored by the conservative Miguel Cardinal Obando y Bravo and opposed by liberal Catholics.

In 1988, he was made a Knight of Malta, thus joining an international charitable group with a conservative cast. He also hired several members of the Word of God, a charismatic Catholic group active in right-wing causes, though Mr. Monaghan says he was never a member himself.

Something in there rings a bell, doesn't it? Hmmm... charismatic Catholic group.... hmmm.... Word of God.... wait... where have we heard of THAT group before?

Oh, of course!

The Word of God community was inspired by the charismatic rock drummer and youth leader, Larry Tomczak, who eventually left the Catholic Faith for greener pastures after making millions promoting Protestant theology among Catholic parishes.

The Word of God community was founded by Ralph Martin, who recently joined Drs. Janet Smith and Mary Healy (also WoG) at the faculty of Sacred Heart seminary. Like Ave Maria University, which preferred to fire Fr. Fessio rather than install a communion rail, Sacred Heart Major Seminary adamantly opposes any implementation of Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum, even refusing to train seminarians in the extraordinary form of the rite.

The Word of God movement was precisely and exactly the cult movement that spiritually RAPED Christopher West, according to Christopher West's own testimony in the Washington Post series on the cult's activities. (Fortunately, his cult-enamored parents did allow Chris to play the sacred rock band drums, so important to Catholic liturgy).

The Word of God community was overseen and sanctioned by Bishop Lori. What? Oh, yes. That's right. The man who failed to notice the cult aspects of WoG is now a member of the board of advisors for Chris West's Theology of the Body Institute, so, nothing to worry about there.

Tom Monaghan actively supported THAT Word of God Community.

Throughout the 1980's and early 1990's Tom Monaghan poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Central and South American Catholic dioceses. He poured further millions into anything related to the Word of God movement. Many of his closest advisors were Word of God acolytes and hangers-on. All the South American bishops who received this money were undoubtedly very appreciative.

At the height of Tom's largess, in the spring of 1997, the Washington Post ran an article series exposing the Word of God movement as a cult. Imagine the sadness in Tom's heart. Worse, imagine the sadness in the hearts of Tom's WoG advisors.

But all is not lost! In the fall of 1997, Chris West - star WaPo stool pigeon in the very public Word of God meltdown - starts quietly working on his theology degree at the John Paul II Center Pontifical Institute.

And, by purest coincidence, within a couple of months of graduation, Chris West, the WoG poster boy for spiritual rape, suddenly finds himself invited to a major conference in Brazil... yes, Brazil, of all places... to deliver a talk on the Theology of the Body.

In an earlier essay, I asked how a no-name yokel with a lousy MA, not even ABD or a Ph.D, got invited to address an international theological conference in Brazil.

Obviously, I still have no idea how this possibly could have happened.
But the questions haunt me.

How does someone who, to this very day, cannot tell the difference between New Age spirituality and Catholic mysticism, how does someone who can't understand Aquinas and can't distinguish between a virtue and a vice, how does someone who can't pass the Sesame Street test on Hugh Hefner, Thomas Aquinas and John Paul II ("one of these things is not like the other"), how, I ask does someone like this get promoted as a good Catholic theologian by any Catholic, much less a bishop (or, God forbid, a cardinal)? Or, for the sake of wild speculation, even promoted by a Catholic billionaire?

Well, it's hard to say (although Al Gore could definitely sympathize).

It certainly can't be the case that the university which doesn't like communion rails, and the seminary that doesn't like the Extraordinary Form, would find anything in common with the theologically illiterate musing of a rock drummer as he meditates on the (New Age?) connection between wild sex and the Catholic liturgy.

No, it certainly is a puzzle.
All we know for certain is, things change.

Why, just yesterday Chris West's episcopal supporter, Bishop Rhoades, was excoriating Fr. Jenkins for inviting pro-abortion Barack Obama to receive an honorary law degree at Notre Dame:
"It is disheartening and distressing when an institution that is regarded as Catholic, such as Notre Dame, fails to follow the guidelines set forth by the Bishops of the Catholic Church, especially in these vital moral matters," read the statement. "It is Bishop Rhoades' hope and prayer that all the institutions that bear the name 'Catholic' will affirm the Church's teachings, expose the culture of death and build up the Culture of Life."
Today, that same bishop says, "I love Notre Dame... I want to have a close personal and pastoral relationship. It's such a strong place."

Yesterday, Tom Monaghan, WoG supporter and South American philanthropist, was pro-life. Today, Tom names a field house at Ave Maria University after a pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia slimeball.

Yesterday, Bishop Lori was shocked, shocked to find a cult going on in a community under his watch. Today, he's on the board of advisors for the organization whose ex-cultist founder so deftly mis-quotes Catholic theology.

So, there you have it.
All the dots on how West got his start.
A bishop here, a billionaire there, obviously none of it connected in any way whatsoever, so there must be a supernatural force driving it all.

And I'm sure there is a supernatural force behind it.
There is precedent.

After all, consider the visionaries of Medjugorje, all millionaires now.

Just as Chris West has helped "countless" people, there have been "countless" conversions from Medjugorje. And there really have been conversions from both West's teaching and from Medjugorje. For that matter, innumerable people have come to know Jesus and have eventually entered the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostlic Church through their exposure to the heretical theology of Anabaptism, Lutheranism, Islam, Hinduism, even Buddhism, so why shouldn't Chris West and the visionaries of Medjugorje be able to point to their own happy Catholic converts? It would be absolutely shocking if they couldn't. Chris West, Tom Monaghan, Tessa Bielicki, the various visionaries... what's not to like?

Now, sure, there are the piffling little rumor-mongering stories of disobedience, abuse, etc., but it's pretty clear that God wants us all to be rich.

That's why Tom Monaghan is so pivotal to the success of the Church.

Tom has given us a gospel of monetary prosperity, Chris gives us a gospel of sexual prosperity, and the Medjugorje visionaries live out both to the full (none have taken religious vows).

God wants us to be happy.
What is happiness if it is not being wealthy while having holy sex?

Ultimately, isn't that the heart of the Gospel message?
Isn't it?


Larry said...

ROFL! Yes, it is quite a picture when you put it all together. Why, we've got our very own Catholic Joel Osteen's preaching 'health, wealth, and happiness,' but Catholics trick it up a notch with genital blessing and kinky, anal sex. Wow, the staid old Catholic Church is really coming of age! Why, just a few more heretical steps and we can out-wicca the wiccans.

Lord, do we need to pray. Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!

Matheus F. Ticiani said...

Since it's the second time I see you mentioning West having been in Brazil without specifying the event, I searched on the Internet out of curiosity. While I have no idea how he came up or about any connections that Monaghan may have here, I found out that apparently West's presence here inspired him to have another "pearl of wisdom".

Raymond said...

Wow Christ really hit the nail on the head when He said that the world would persecute those who follow Him.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


Yeah, that's vintage West alright. And notice the odd comment by the poster, undoubtedly drawn from some Westian burble: "according to Strong's, the words "breast" or "breasts" appear 45 times in scripture, and only eight of those are sexual." The conclusion we are obviously meant to draw doesn't really appear to be well thought out.

After all, foreskins are mentioned constantly in the Old Testament, and NONE of the Biblical references to foreskins are sexual. Would it then follow that men who walk around with their foreskins out in plain view are not acting in a socially problematic way?

The human brain is built to create associations. The very fact that "breast" is recognized as a sexual term in Scripture is an indication that, even when the breast may be in use for a different and perfectly legitimate biological purpose, the associated meanings cannot be erased or ignored.

After all, the male member has multiple uses as well, but a man urinating in public is not fined for polluting the local water supply, rather, he's fined for indecent exposure, even though the activity he was engaged in was not sexual.

Matheus F. Ticiani said...

I didn't pay attention to that, Steve. What I did notice was, besides the silly and patronizing "No Sin Below the Equator" attitude behind that particular comment from West, also that the first person to write a comment to the linked post already notices the implication that Catholic women not OK about publicly exposing their breasts are "puritans" or so...

As I mentioned previously, all the stuff I found about that event mentioned Pope John Paul II and some other guests, but none even mentions West. Perhaps his presence here didn't have the importance you're ascribing to it.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Well, you may be right about the possibility that it might not really have ever featured West.

The reason I have harped on it is this: when I was a parish director of adult formation, I was publishing articles in various Catholic magazines and giving talks. When I submitted one article to Envoy's editor, Patrick Madrid, he replied, "Oh, that's a riff on Chris West."

Now, I had never heard of West before, so I looked him up. He looked mildly interesting, so I asked for information from him about speaking at the parish. Back then, in addition to his speaking fees and conditions and contract, he used to send out his vitae. He had to, because he was virtually unknown.

On his vitae, he listed the international theological conference in Brazil as one of his earliest accomplishments - fresh out of graduate school. I was struck by that because (1) I had gotten my graduate degree under Scott Hahn and (2) I knew most of the speakers on the Catholic circuit.

I couldn't figure it out. How had he had gotten such a gig and I never heard of him? Even Hahn couldn't have swung such a deal for one of his students back then (this was back when Jeff Cavins was still a rising Hahn-made star). I wondered who had been pushing this guy.

Besides which, his speaking fees were OUTRAGEOUS. He wanted something like $5000 to talk, wanted tickets sold at the door (and he would take all of the proceeds) AND a free-will collection (and he would take all of that). When I told the pastor the contract details, we both just laughed.

This was about ten years ago, well before West had published anything. Even Hahn was only just beginning to ask $3-5000 per talk back then. For an unknown like West to ask for that was absurd.

But, as they say about the carbon-tax millionaire Al Gore, I guess I was the fool on that one.

Raymond said...

This man gave away his entire fortune to build a "saint factory". Although he might not do everything perfect i'm sick of all these people whining and picking him apart. It's absolutely pathetic.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Why is it that people who have negative comments don't have the backbone to enable their own profiles?

When I had anonymous users enabled, these yokels went anonymous. I disabled that, now they just use first names (Peter, Raymond, etc.), then don't enable their profile.


Brendan said...

What is a saint factory? A place for fabricating saints?