The answer, apparently, is to exploit Terri Schiavo one more time, as Ave Maria is doing today. The Catholic city, which lies in the swamps east of Naples and was bankrolled by a pizza delivery baron, is staging a mass in Schiavo's honor. Because Schiavo was -- before she slipped into a persistent vegetative state -- a devout Roman Catholic. Or, more accurately, because her brother Bobby Schindler is a devout Roman Catholic who seems intent on keeping this circular debate swirling into the next millennium. From today's Naples News:
Schindler wanted to give the event more of a national appeal, one befitting the cause his sister represented four years ago when the removal of her feeding tube and subsequent death interested everyone from St. Petersburg to Tallahassee, from Washington D.C. to the Vatican.
Schindler decided to approach Ave Maria and its founder Tom Monaghan.
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I suspect Monaghan thought about this proposition for exactly one millisecond.
After all, the same economic evils infecting secular parts of America have seeped into the holy water that flows through Ave Maria. From an article two weeks ago:
Monaghan spent more than $50 million for land surrounding the university to co-develop a new town whose proceeds would fund the university's endowment.
The crash in the real estate market has affected that endowment, which stood at $2.6 million at the end of last fiscal year. It slowed the school's plans to build an athletic complex and new classroom and dining spaces, chief financial officer Paul Roney said.
The publicity that comes with a Schiavo mass just might give Ave Maria some new residents and wring a few extra bucks from conscience-ridden Catholics. Surely, it's what Terri would have wanted.