Ave Maria University Sues Obama Administration Over Contraception Rule

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Ave Maria University -- the much-troubled, uber-Catholic institution near Naples -- is suing the Obama administration over its rule requiring health plans to cover free contraception.

"It is a sad day when an American citizen or organization has no choice but to sue its own government in order to exercise religious liberty rights guaranteed by our nation's Constitution,'' said AMU president Jim Towey. "As an American Catholic, I am in disbelief that I have to choose between being a good Catholic and a good citizen. I will not, and the University will not, accept this false choice."

But, as we reported in a feature article last October, Ave Maria University has itself come under criticism for not being Catholic enough after accepting a $4 million donation from a pro-choice politician.

Domino's Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan founded Ave Maria in 2007. It was his vision for a new and righteous America founded upon strict Catholic values. Monaghan sunk a half-billion dollars into building the town and its centerpiece university in the middle of the Corkscrew Swamp, 20 miles northeast of Naples.

Calling the place a ticket to Heaven, he boasted that birth control and pornography wouldn't be allowed. Ave Maria would be the epicenter of an American Catholic revival: "a saint factory" that would "change the world," he promised.

Yet, as we outlined in our feature, things went wrong from the start. The Diocese of Venice refused to consecrate Ave Maria's massive church because it was owned by Monaghan, not the Church. To this day, it's called a "quasi-oratory" -- whatever that means.

Meanwhile, Ave Maria went four years without being designated a "Catholic university."

Marielena Stuart, a local resident now running for the U.S. Senate, slammed the university for its acceptance of a $4 million donation for a new gym from pro-choice politician Tom Golisano.

During several New Times reporting trips to Ave Maria, university officials -- including Towey -- stressed that the institution had many non-Catholic employees and students.

We're not on a witch-hunt to expose squishy Catholicism. On the contrary, we quit confirmation classes when they stopped handing out donuts after mass.

But it seems a little bogus that Ave Maria is so outraged by the Obama administration when Monaghan happily accepted cash from pro-choice politicians in the past.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.

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