U.S. Coalition for Life Commentary
by Randy Engel
Part III– The Jackson Laboratory, Tom Monaghan and His City of God
On July 27, 2010, the Commissioners of Collier County, Florida will meet in public session to discuss and take action on the Jackson Lab controversy, which has been the subject of my previous two commentaries, “Eugenics Meets the Pizza King – Ave Maria in the Shadow of Auschwitz,” and “Ave Maria, Jackson Laboratory and Mass Eugenic Killing.” (http://www.uscl.info/index.php?pr=Press_Releases).
If Collier County taxpayers could vote tomorrow, they would, no doubt, reject plans to use public monies as a tax-subsidy to lure pro-eugenic, pro-euthanasia founder Clarence Little’s transgenic mouse company to Ave Marie Stewardship Community District. After all, as a “non-profit” corporation, the Jackson Lab would pay little or no taxes.
Not surprisingly, in a poll by the Naples News, 82% of the responders checked the box “Don’t give any taxpayer money at all.”
But alas the Jackson Lab controversy is not about what is best for Collier County residents including the townspeople of Ave Maria and students and faculty of Ave Maria University (AMU), but about how best and how quickly to bail out the powerful land baron, Barron Collier Companies and their partner, Pizza King tycoon Tom Monaghan, from their multi-million dollar “innovative” swamp land misadventure.
Moral and Ethical Issues in Jackson Lab Controversy
In the Naples, Florida public forum, opposition to the Jackson Laboratory has been emphatically expressed by citizens including savvy businessmen and biotechnology experts, whose criticism of the Jackson Lab project has been based largely on financial and economic grounds. For example, former Smith, Kline &French international director Alvin E. Strack, Sr. joins with retired Bristol Laboratories president and CEO Julius L. Pericola, both Naples residents, in denouncing the “airy-fairy promises being made for this company.” On the other hand, the tough moral and ethical questions surrounding the Jackson Lab enterprise are just beginning to be openly discussed.
Were it not for AveWatch.Com dedicated to investigative journalism of all things Tom Monaghan, including the Jackson Lab debacle, and the courageous journalist and Ave Maria Town resident, Marielena Montesino de Stuart (The Roman Catholic World at http://romancatholicworld.wordpress.com/) these tough moral and ethical questions would have been deep-sixed by Monaghan and Co. with at least the tacit, if not voluptuous praise of the residents of Ave Maria Town, aka “The City of God,” and the faculty and students of AMU, which lies just down the road from the proposed Jackson Lab site, inside Ave Maria.
Indeed, the attempt by Monaghan and Co to deliberately obfuscate and outright deny the well-documented anti-life history, programs, research and services of the Jackson Laboratory continues unabated to this very day.
Case in point is the recent letter sent out by AMU’s President and Monaghan’s long-time friend and lead legal counselor Nicholas J. Healy, Jr. in response to a critic of the Jackson Lab project. Healy himself is on record as supporting the project claiming that it would bring “very considerable benefits to the entire area. …They will bring well-paying jobs and so on. It will help real estate in the town.”
For openers, Healy, advises the writer that he is “badly misinformed” (but then, aren’t we all?) with regard to the circumstances and actions taken by Monaghan to approve the sale and subsequent donation of 50 acres of land by his real estate business partner Barron Collier for the location of the new Jackson Lab biomedical complex.
Healy emphasized that Monaghan used “due diligence” in his approval of the land sale by first seeking out the professional opinion of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) in Philadelphia which is the principle advisor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., and to various Vatican agencies, on bioethics.
Attached to Healy’s letter were two papers, “Background on Position of The National Catholic Bioethics Center for Land Transaction for The Jackson Laboratory,” and “Brief Summary of the Position of the National Catholic Bioethics Center of the Sale of Land by Thomas S. Monaghan to Barron Collier Co. Who Might Sell It to Jackson Laboratory,” the latter dated June 9, 2010.
Readers of Parts I of this commentary will recall that, after more due diligence, on its part, the NCBC reported back to Monaghan that there would be “no moral obstacle to his selling his 50% interest in this land back to his partner” for the Jackson Lab site. It was the answer that Monaghan wanted to hear, but unfortunately not the answer he needed to hear, that is, the truth.
The NCBC information sheets relayed by Healy do not indicate who ultimately was responsible for conducting the study on the Jackson Lab or what the price tag was. But in all likelihood, Monaghan’s first contact would have been John Haas, Ph.D., President of the NCBC who has a close working relationship with Legatus, Monaghan’s exclusive club for wealthy Catholic CEOs with business assets over $5 million. On February 5, 2009, six-months before the Jackson Lab pow-wow, Legatus hosted Haas in Bermuda at their annual 3-day members-only summit where the NCBC executive received the Cardinal O’Connor Pro-Life Award from Monaghan (http://avewatch.com/?p=1190).
So the question remains, even if Haas later passed the research job onto another staffer, how is it possible that he wasn’t able to immediately identify the Jackson Lab’s Bar Harbor, Maine facility as one of the nation’s oldest, most notorious international eugenic establishments? As I indicate in Part I its name has always been synonymous with two things – laboratory mice and eugenics including the promotion of in-vitro fertilization and eugenic abortion. Yet no red flags went up at the NCBC?
Next question. How much time did Haas and/or his assistant actually spend investigating the history of the Jackson Lab or examining its website, which, as AveWatch has amply demonstrated, provides more than sufficient evidence of the lab’s involvement in human embryonic stem cell programs as well as male contraceptive research?
Next question. Wasn’t Haas or his staffer even a little bit curious to know what kind of research Jackson Lab West was conducting in Sacramento, California? If they had, they might have picked up on the fact that on June 22, 2009, Jackson Lab executives announced that they had received a $3.4 million contract from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to develop mouse models which can support long-term transplantation with human stem cells and can be used in stem cell research. Human embryos are the source of the human embryonic stem cells used to produce the immune-deficient mouse models of human diseases that can be used for testing human stem cell therapies. In plain wrapper language that anyone can understand, human embryos, the tiniest of our kin, are being cannibalized, being killed, in order to obtain the human embryonic stem cells which are injected into the Jackson Lab mice.
OK. Last question. Assuming that the NCBC was truly ignorant of Jackson Lab’s anti-life history, programs, services and research, how did it react when evidence was produced by AveWatch and the USCL which supported the charges? Did the NCBC admit its error? No. It compounded it by issuing the asinine June 9, 2010 statement, reaffirming that Jackson Lab was not guilty of the ethical and moral charges leveled against it.
And now we see Monaghan’s legal mouthpiece, Nick Healy, perpetuating the very same lie exonerating the Jackson Lab. There’s something radically wrong in Monaghan’s City of God and it appears to go much deeper than just the Jackson Lab controversy.
Monaghan and Co. No Stranger to Scandal
My first introduction to the bizarre happenings at Ave Maria was the Thomas Golisano Scandal. On November 5, 2009, AMU Chancellor, Thomas S. Monaghan, announced that AMU has received a $4 million dollar donation from New York billionaire Blasé Thomas Golisano to fund the construction of the University’s first indoor athletic facility, the Tom Golisano Field House. Giving Golisano a standing ovation, Monaghan said “The entire University community is humbled and quite frankly ecstatic over this contribution.” The $4 million was blood money. Golisano is a major backer of the Abortion Industry, giving millions to NARAL-endorsed pro-abort politicians and to pro-aborts President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton. Golisano insists that he is “prolife” and always has been “pro-life.” Monaghan and Healy continue to defend the honoring of Golisano by AMU. Golisano is currently under investigation for election law violations. In addition, in March of this year a California appeals court upheld a $26 million award in a fraud lawsuit against Golisano and a company he founded.
My second introduction was the Fr. William Thomas Internet Porn Scandal of 2005 that involved Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Mich. and Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Mich. AveWatch with Fox News Detroit broke the story on July 9, 2007, but I did not learn about it until I began this series on the Ave Maria and the Jackson Lab in the spring of 2010.
Fr. Thomas was ordained to the Diocese of Lansing, Mich. in 1978. At the time, the diocese was shepherded by the “gay friendly” Bishop Kenneth Joseph Povish, a backer of the notorious pro-sodomite New Ways Ministry and defender of Michigan native Bishop Keith J. Symons of the Diocese of Palm Beach who was forced to resign his office in 1998 following the revelation that he had sexually molested at least five teenage boys. Within a year, Bishop Symons was back in action thanks to Povish’s successor Bishop Carl Mengeling who permitted the mitered homosexual predator to present a daylong program of prayer and meditation on the Blessed Virgin Mary at the St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt.
Fr. Thomas was appointed pastor to Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church in Brighton in August 1999 where he quickly gained a reputation for “conservatism” (EWTN-style) and a penchant for an expensive lifestyle. Not surprisingly, he soon attracted the attention of Monaghan’s Ave Maria Foundation (AMF) in Ann Arbor, and over the years built a solid working relationship with the AMF.
Thomas also developed a friendly relationship with Ave Maria School of Law Chaplain Fr. Michael Orsi, who assisted at Holy Spirit on weekends. Orsi’s relationship with many members the faculty of the law school was less than cordial. In a letter dated February 18, 2007, some faculty members complained to Orsi’s bishop, Most Reverend Joseph A. Galante, D.D., J.C.D., of Camden, N.J., that the priest acted more like an enforcer for Law School Dean Bernard Dobranski than a chaplain.
Thomas appeared to be living a charmed life until 2004 when Patrick Flynn, business manager for the parish, inadvertently discovered homosexual/pederast pornography on Thomas’ computer. Later records from the Michigan State Police revealed that Thomas had bookmarked references for “teen” and “boy” and “young” pornography and that he spent hours viewing web sites like “Boyscherries.com” featuring very young looking men simulating their first experience with sodomy. (http://avewatch.com/2006-2007/files/d0c0bb9de22a3d0c810208da27aa2246-110.html).
Finally, sometime in the late fall of 2005, after months of careful monitoring and tracking of Thomas’ computer operating systems’ registry and related data, Flynn brought the matter to the attention of Bishop Mengeling, but without much success. Flynn’s next step was to seek advice and assistance from Fr. Orsi, but that proved to be an even harsher reception for reasons that will soon be made clear.
In early September 2007, after Flynn’s visit, Thomas was summoned to the bishop’s office and told to get rid of everything on his computer, but not to destroy evidence. Say what?
That very same day, Orsi put Thomas in touch with Ave Maria School of Law’s Information Technology (IT) people who informed the priest that the hard drive of his computer could never be completely erased. Alarmed by this news, Thomas coordinated with attorney/parishioner Robert Pavlock to replace the hard drive with a clean new drive. Twenty-one days went by before the State Police secured Thomas’ original drive with the incriminating evidence from Pavlock who was about to be served with a search warrant.
In the meantime, Thomas was granted a “leave of absence” with full pay and benefits while canonical proceedings by the diocese languished in Rome.
All this while, Dobranski, Dean of the Law School, says he was kept in the dark and was not informed of the details of the Thomas case until December 2005. That month he ordered an in-house investigation by the school’s law firm and Monaghan’s long-time legal representation Butzel Long. The firm was of the opinion that the law school had done nothing illegal. Dobranski let the matter drop and never informed the authorities of the events related to the charges against Thomas.
In the end, no criminal charges were filed against Fr. Thomas as the suspected child and simulated child porn was located in an unallocated sector, which is not prosecutable. Thomas died in Germany shortly after the story broke in July 2007. Father Thomas had gone to Germany to join up with the Schoenstatt Movement, known for its international youth ministry.
Like many decent, fair-minded whistleblowers, Flynn, the father of seven who wanted only to get Thomas the help he needed, lost his job in 2006 for “budgetary” reasons.
Father Orsi, on the other hand, who was aware of the police investigation of Fr. Thomas yet withheld that information for months from Dobranski, was never censored or reprimanded either by Dobranski or Monaghan.
And where was Monaghan in this sordid mess? Listening carefully to every detail Dobranski and his attorneys were feeding him one can be sure, and praying the matter would never come to light.
Tom Monaghan and His City of God
I must confess, as a cradle Catholic I’ve never been favorably impressed by calls to build a New Jerusalem, here on earth. This early prejudice, was reinforced with my first reading of Msgr. Ronald Knox’s 1950 classic work Enthusiasm on the history of revivalist sects and the dangers they pose to the Catholic Church. More recently, my skepticism was rekindled by the pederast/homosexual Society of St. John, “a private association of the faithful” which collected millions of dollars from traditional Catholics to build a “City of God” in the Diocese of Scranton. The affair did not come to a happy end, and neither, I believe, will Monaghan’s Ave Maria Town.
I came into this series knowing a great deal about the Jackson Lab, but not about Ave Maria Town, AMU and the people who lived and worked there, or Tom Monaghan. I knew nothing about the relationship that exists between them. All this changed during the three months of my investigation as I came to know and understand the true nature of the malignant entity known as Ave Maria Town. The Jackson Lab story is important, but ultimately, I think the story behind Ave Maria Town is even more important. Until that story is written, Catholics, especially any Catholic considering relocating to Ave Maria Town or parents who are considering sending their children to AMU would be wise to heed the warning signs ahead.
Ave Maria is not God’s town. It’s not a Catholic Town. It’s Tom Monaghan’s little theocracy, a mini-state governed by a man who regards himself as divinely guided.
The official religion practiced and promoted here is not traditional Catholicism but rather a Pentecostal-Charismatic fundamentalism with all the eccentricities and characteristics and dangers of a full-blown cult. The “Praise and Worship” services, Novos Ordo guitar Masses and bizarre healing services held at the Quasi-Parish of Ave Maria Oratory (the “healing services” were eventually banned inside the Oratory by the local Bishop) are not merely a variant on Catholicism, but a different religion altogether with a different theology of grace and salvation.
While it is true that the Latin Mass is offered at the Oratory, it is important for the reader to understand that this is only due to the insistence of the local Ordinary that it be made available.
Catholicism has doctrine, dogma, hierarchy, structure, sacraments, and a sacred liturgy – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Catholic faith is based on the Redemption of the cross. Catholics worship Christ crucified. This is why we wear a crucifix. Baptists, Evangelicals and most other Protestant sects hail an empty cross, from which Jesus has already risen. (http://www.catholicthought.com/promise_keeper.htm). Not only do Catholics have doctrines, but as Knox emphasizes, we have a balance of doctrines and a balance of emphases.
This is in sharp contrast to the religion of Revivalism promoted by Monaghan and Co. which seeks a new Pentecost and a New Jerusalem. In its heart of hearts it is anti-hierarchical and anti-authority. It is also anti-intellectual, that is, it fosters a morbid distrust of our God-given intellect, and relies instead on a blind faith where external signs and flashes of intuition take priority over common prudence. It is a religion where the Sacramental life is secondary in importance to signs of wonders and religious experiences of all kinds especially glossolalia, that is, speaking in tongues. The latter, it should be recalled has generally been regarded by the Catholic Church as a symptom of diabolic possession, not divine inspiration.
It is no coincidence that Monaghan has had strong connections to the Word of God Community of Ann Arbor, a neo-Pentecostal quasi-Catholic community formed by Ralph Martin and Steve Clark and known for its cult-like tendencies. Healy, the President of AMU, has had ties to the Mother of God Movement of Montgomery Village, Md., which in 1994-1995 was investigated by Cardinal James A. Hickey, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. after complaints of cult-like practices and activities were leveled against community leaders. Later, Mother of God was allowed to restructure itself as “a private association of the faithful” with the approbation of the archdiocese, but its dark past is a matter of public record. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/library/mog/mogmain.htm).
Neither is it a coincidence that relations between Monaghan and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice where Ave Maria Town is located have always been strained.
It may come as a surprise to the reader that Ave Maria University (AMU) is not a Catholic University. The University itself has no relationship to the diocese and is not recognized as a Catholic University by Bishop Dewane. The latter has no authority over any decision at AMU. He simply sits as an ex officio member of the AMU board, but without any voting privileges. “Ave Maria University, Inc.” is classified as a B43 non-profit organization by the IRS and Monaghan is listed as the University’s primary benefactor and Chancellor/President/Director.
No doubt, the recently released statement of July 22, 2010 by the Diocese of Venice highlighting the moral and ethical questions surrounding the Jackson Lab’s involvement in illicit human embryonic stem cell research, will not be welcome news for Monaghan or Barron Collier. The concluding paragraph reminds Catholics that:
Economic growth and development are not the only components which impact the life of a community. An organization which truly respects the rights of all human beings could and should “rule out” human embryonic stem cell research. This is precisely because it involves the destruction of innocent human life and consequently, affects the community. Without such an understanding, the plan of Jackson Laboratory, as it has been reported, presents difficulty for the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
This brings us to what I consider to be one of the key questions concerning the Jackson Lab controversy. It is the proverbial elephant in the living room.
The population of Ave Maria Town is over 95% Catholic, the majority of whom I would venture to say is pro-life. Ave Maria University has over 50 faculty members including a number of converts and over 500 students, most of whom would classify themselves as pro-life. On its Mission Page, the university stresses both the responsibility of Catholic academicians to explicate the truths of the faith and of students and graduates to bring the truths of the faith to bear on contemporary issues, including abortion as well as non-therapeutic fetal research and presumably human embryo and human embryonic stem cells experimentation.
How then does one explain the fact that during the more than three months that the Jackson Lab controversy has raged in Collier County, we have yet to hear any public criticism of the building of a eugenic playground in their backyard from the faculty, staff, and students of Ave Maria University, from the faculty, staff and students of Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, or from any self-identified resident of Ave Maria Town, again, with the exception of Marielena Montesino de Stuart? In response to the hundreds of e-mails on the Jackson Lab issue sent by the U.S. Coalition for Life to faculty and staff of AMU and AMSL, we have received two responses – one from Fr. Robert Garrity telling me I was “misinformed” about the issues and a second asking to be removed from our mailing list. I find this silence to be unnatural and a bit unnerving. It is the same kind of silence one associates with religious cults. Who or what are the people of Ave Maria afraid of? I believe this matter along with the Revivalism aberrations mentioned above, merits the immediate attention of the local Ordinary, Bishop Dewane.
Bishop Dewane is the head of the Diocese of Venice. He is the shepherd of his flock, and that flock, for good or evil, includes Tom Monaghan and the Catholics of Ave Maria. I urge him to initiate such an inquiry/investigation. The sooner the better.
Released: Saturday, July 24, 2010
This text online at http://www.uscl.info/index.php?pr=Press_Releases [scroll down to Part III]
Media Contact: USCL Office at email@example.com or call 724 327-8878 or write Box 315 Export, PA 15632.
Randy Engel is a prolife veteran of more than 40 years. Engel is the founder and Director of the U.S. Coalition for Life (www.uscl.info), the oldest pro-life research agency in the United States and the co-founder with Dr. Jerome Lejeune of Paris, of the Pittsburgh-based International Foundation for Genetic Research/Michael Fund (www.michaelfund.org), the pro-life alternative to the March of Dimes. The Michael Fund, created in 1978, combines a pro-life philosophy with a truly therapeutic research program centering on treatments/ and cures for chromosomal disorders especially Down syndrome.]