updated 3/3/2006 7:30:52 PM ET 2006-03-04T00:30:52

Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan, who is helping to bankroll the birth of a Florida town and university, backtracked Friday from comments that he’d like the community to be governed by strict Roman Catholic principles.

His ideas about barring pornography and birth control, he said, apply only to the Catholic university.

“There are a lot of misconceptions,” Monaghan said Friday.

Both the town of Ave Maria and its Ave Maria University, the first Catholic university to be built in the United States in four decades, are set to open next year about 25 miles east of Naples in southwest Florida.

Monaghan’s comments Friday contrasted with statements he made last year to a Catholic men’s group in Boston that pornographic magazines won’t be sold in town, pharmacies won’t carry condoms or birth control pills, and cable television will carry no X-rated channels.

“I would say I just misspoke,” Monaghan said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. “The town will be open to anybody.”

Monaghan had declined to comment earlier in the week, while his attorneys were reviewing legal issues surrounding his original ideas.

Threats from the ACLU
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida had said it would sue if the proposals were instituted. Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist said he saw nothing in Monaghan’s proposals that violated state law.

The town is being developed through a 50-50 partnership with the Barron Collier Co., an agricultural and real estate firm. Barron Collier and Monaghan will control all commercial real estate.

The town will not allow adult bookstores or topless clubs. However, it will merely suggest, not prohibit, businesses from selling adult magazines or contraceptives.

“We are not going to censor any of that information, but in deference to Ave Maria University, we are going to request that they not sell that merchandise but we are not restricting,” said Barron Collier chief executive Paul Marinelli.

Town will not be all Catholic
“The misconception we’re trying to clarify is that this is not going to be a strictly Catholic town. ... I think it would be boring if in fact it was all Catholic,” Marinelli said.

He said the town would welcome “synagogues as well as Baptist churches.”

Barron Collier executive Blake Gable said homosexuals will be welcome despite the church’s belief that homosexuality is a sin.

Also contrary to Monaghan’s earlier statements, the town will not restrict cable television programming.

Marinelli said the town, expected to attract 25,000 residents, will offer affordable and extravagant housing, including seven different communities for groups from seniors to young families.

“We’re just trying to create an environment where children will be safe on the streets, where they can ride their bikes and play ball in the park,” he said. “We’re truly just trying to create a town with traditional values.”

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