Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ave Maria's Incense Welcomes Naples News Readers

The Editors wish to thank the Naples News for linking to us on their main “Ave Maria” page. Welcome! We thought it appropriate to introduce our perspective to new readers, so here is a start with more to come in the weeks that follow.

1. What is Ave Maria? Well, there is no official definition, but as people who have been associated with Ave Maria for a long while (some for almost a decade), we do have opinions on the matter. The group of entities started by, supported by, or funded by the Ave Maria Foundation (see the "links" section of this blog for a listing) all exist to further the goals of the Catholic church, primary of which is to advance the Gospel and assist people in obtaining salvation. Education, and specifically higher education, has become the primary focus of Ave Maria. The town in Florida is a pleasant side-benefit that manifested providentially as the university came into being in Florida.

2. Is the town Catholic? Anyone is free to move to the town, visit, study, work, or buy property there. Religion is not a criteria for any of that. But logically, one asks who would want to live in a town where the main institution in the town is geared toward advancing the Catholic faith? Where a Catholic church building is so obviously the epicenter of the town? Where the town and the streets are named after Catholic landmarks and heroes? Those who know well-informed and practicing Catholics will understand that we are kind and generous to our neighbors regardless of who or what they are, do or say. That is why a rabbi feels comfortable teaching at the university and a man who practices the Bahá'í faith is a regent of the university.

3. What about laws in the town? Government actions affecting the town can never discriminate based on religion or impose religious laws as civil laws. Property owners are also forbidden to discriminate in that way. But property owners can impose limits on what activities happen on the property they own. For example, a business lease can lawfully contain a provision that prohibits the business from selling pornography, condoms or cigarettes. (As of now the private company that owns most all commercial property in the town indicates that no such lease prohibitions exist, so perhaps the town residents should weigh in on what sort of businesses they don't want in town!) Word has it that murder and false swearing are unlawful in Ave Maria, despite being violations of the Ten Commandments. Don’t let the sensationalized reporting fool you: the ACLU loves to make headlines and imagine constitutional violations where none exist. Catholics (and other groups) have a right to develop institutions that advance their beliefs and to live in close proximity to those institutions and each other. Finally, the only laws that apply to people in Ave Maria, Florida, are the same laws that apply to those who live in Golden Gate.

Up next: stay tuned and be surprised.