Domino's founders closely tied to anti-women causes.
For Thomas Monaghan, the path to heaven is paved with mozzarella cheese. Monaghan is founder and chief executive officer of Domino's, the biggest home delivery pizza chain in the world. He's also a regular guest of the Vatican, founder of a controversial Catholic businessmen's group closely linked to an authoritarian cult, financial backer of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, and a supporter of anti-left counterinsurgencies in the Third World.
The man who has made millions off pizza was in Toronto recently, trying to expand his spiritual empire into the souls of Canadian businessmen.
It's not clear just how much control Monaghan has over Domino's franchises in Canada. The manager of a local Domino's francise says he "isn't allowed to talk about it." He refers inquires to the Toronto Director of Operations, who does not return calls.
Domino's International has operations in 20 countries. Domino's Pizza of Canada Limited, a subsidiary of Domino's International, has become King of Canadian pizzas in a mere 7 years. From a single store in Winnepeg, the company now boasts 140 outlets across Canada, with 75 in Ontario and 7 in Toronto.
It is known that Canadian outlets buy all their ingredients from Domino-owned commissaries. At one of the commissaries, located in Kitchener, all questions are referred to Domino's headquarters in Michigan.
The man behind this secretive fast-food empire came to Toronto to pave the way for a branch of his equally shadowy club of Roman Catholic corporate kingpins.
The trip, it appears, was a success. The Catholic archdiocese of Toronto has given a go-ahead for the establishment of a local chapter of Legatus.
To Catholic leaders, Legatus is an elite Catholic club of millionaries trying to keep god and Christ alive in the cut-throat world of high finance. To others, the organization is the financial backbone of a destructive cult called The Word of God, which maintains absolute control of it's followers through a practice called shepherding.
Legatus first approached the archdiocese chaplain, monsignor Robert Charlebois, met with then archbishop Emmett Carter and arranged to have Monaghan address the diocesan hierarchy.
"(Monaghan) flew in in his own plane with three or four others who were members of Legatus," says Pearse Lacey, bishop for the western district of the archdiocese and one of three personal advisors to Carter and archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic. "He spoke primarily to the subject of Legatus and explained what it was, and expressed the hope that there was a place for another chapter in this city."
According to Lacey, Monaghan asked the archbishop for permission to setup shop in Toronto. "it would be very prudent because people would immediately question his credability" if he did not have the archbishop's stamp of approval, Lacey says.
To be eligible to join Legatus, a member has to be the head of a corporation doing at least $4 million in sales.
"What quickley won my favour was the fact that they were basically a spiritual organization who recognized that people in high positions often times are more impoverished by the role of leadership they are placed in," Lacey says. "So I thought, 'Gee, this is a terrific idea.' They are a group of people in society and because of their eliteness are very impoverished."
Monaghan is indeed elite. As the founder of Domino's Pizza chain, his personal wealth is estimated to be more than $400 million. He is also owner of the Detriot Tigers baseball team.
In an interview in his spacious office in Ann Arbor, Monaghan says he decided in 1987, after a session with the pope, that he would form an exclusive organization of Catholic CEOs. "Within an hour of meeting him, I came up with this idea.... I now believe that establishing Legatus is the reason the lord put me on this earth," Monaghan says.
Each fall, the group holds weeklong meetings in Rome that include an audience with the pope. In 1989. Legatus held a three-day event in Washington DC, that included meetings with George Bush and serveral cabinet members in the White House.
Legatus - whose headquarters are next door to Monaghan's office - has established chapters in a number os U.S. cities and is organizing chapters abroad. Monaghan is chair of the group, while a Domino's vice-president is vice-chair.
Despite Legatus's claim of being apolitical, new right leaders such as Phyllis Schlafy and Paul Weyrich have participated in it's programs. Phyllis Schlafy a Legatus member, is well known for her campaign against the U.S. Equal Rights Amendments, which would have guaranteed equal protection for women, as well as her hard-line support for Star Wars. Weyrich is one of the key leaders of the radical right in Washington, DC, and a founder of Jerry Falwell's now defunct Moral Majority.
In Los Angeles, a key Legatus organizer also heads a local group that distributes the literature of the John Birch Society, a far right political group.
Potential members are told that Legatus' purpose is to improve the spiritual lives and ethical decision-making of it's members. "If there were a political dimension in (Legatus), it would cause us (bishops and clergy) to question it credability," Lacey says.
Even more contraversial than Legatus is Word of God (WOG), whose leaders claim to have recieved divinely inspired prophecies wherein god is to have said, "I am going to make you my people in a way which I have never before made any people my people."
But to be so chosen, there must be total obedience to "the shepherd," the spiritual leader of individual WOG groups. Members who challenge the authority of shepherds can be judged as possessed by demons and are subject to traumatic exorcism rites by WOG leaders. Exorcism, rarely practised in mainstream churches, is seen by WOG as a means of countering demons of "rebelliousness, independence, feminism, isolation, etc..," according to a WOG internal document.
Monaghan says he has no ties to WOG. But former and current Domino's employees say WOG followers are present in significant numbers in Domino's headquarters in Ann Arbor and recieve preferential treatment at promotion or layoff time. WOG members have risen to senior executive levels of the pizza chain.
The interconnections of Domino's, Legatus, and Word of God are most clearly manifest in the person Franciso Zuniga, who is simultaneously the Central American coordinator of Domino's Pizza and Legatus. He was trained by the Word of God to be shepherding leader, so that when Monaghan sent him to Hondouras, he bacame leader of a branch of Sword of the Spirit (SOS).
SOS is led by the Word of God, which trains leaders of SOS branches in sheperding methods. Other SOS branches operate in Belfast, Beiruit, Managua, Johannesburg, Manila and a number of U.S. cities.
While no SOS branches exist in Canada, SOS leaders hold rallies in Canadian cities, mostly in the name of their Catholic evangelical group - Faith, Intercession, Repentence and Evangelism (FIRE).
According to WOG documents, Monaghan has given substansial sums of money to the organization, such as a $100,000 matching grant to WOG leader Ralph Martin's television program.
Monaghan built a huge headquarters building in Ann Arbor in the early 1980's that included a chapel where daily mass is held fo Catholic employees. The priest for the chapel, Patrick Egan, is one of two priests in the Word of God (about 50 per cent of the 1,600 adults in WOG claim to be Catholic).
It was Egan who interested Monaghan in giving financial support to a priest in rural Hondouras in 1984. The priest, Father Enrique Sylvestre, was the head of a WOG-like group that was building a presence in Hondouras. Monaghan setup a tomato sauce packing plant, Domino's francises and a factory that makes pants for export that retail for $200 per pair.
All the profits get plowed back into Sylvestre's group, the Fortress of God, which is one of approximately 50 groups around the world that form an umbrella group.
Lacey says he isn't worried about WOG. "I would look with favour on it." says Lacey. "It's very kosher. It's very good. There could be abuses, but essentially the charismatic movement is a healthy movement. You can find kooks anywhere and abuses everywhere. If I can generalize and put my finger on what the Word of God is about, it's about providing a mutual, spiritual support in living out a Christian life. They have come together in some kind of community living. It doesn't embrace everybody."
Monaghan's commitment apparently doesn't exxtend to Christian charity. Recently, he told a Detroit audience that a family of four could get by on an annual food budget of $300 by buying powdered milk and grains in bulk.
Hostility to the Sandinistas is another common ingredient in the WOG and Monaghan relationship. In 1983, WOG secretly established the Puebla Institute to publish material critical of the Nicarauguan government. The first book published by the institue, Christians under Fire, was partly written and financed by the CIA, according to sources associated with the contras.
After publishing their CIA-funded book, Puebla sent 400 copies to a professional anti-communist group in Mississauga to distribute to the Canadian Government.
Klaas Brobbel, director of the Canadian branch, of Jesus to the Communist World, an international organization dedicated to bringing the dwindling number of reds to Christ, denies any CIA connection to his organization. "We sell (the Puebla Institute's) literature because we support what they do."
Jesus to the Communist World, onwhose board of directors Brobbel serves, has been involved in trying to convert communist guerillas in areas of intense CIA backed and WOG supported countries, like the Philippines and El Salvador.
Monaghan has also become one of the leading sugar daddies to the anti-choice forces in the U.S.
In a Michigan referndum on public funding of abortions for poor women, Monaghan was the largest funder of the effort to cut off state aid, contributing over $110,000 to various groups who oppose a women's choice on abortion.
This action sparked a national boycott by the National Organization of Women, which has issued press statements and conducted picket lines at Domino's outlets. The committee to boycott Domino's has been joined by groups opposed to Monaghan's activities in Central America and by a group of affluent residents in the area of Domino's headquarters threatened by his land use policies.
Recently, Domino's boycott leaders have discovered that a house owned by Domino's has been used as the headquarters for a Michigan unit of Operation Rescue, which attempts to block clinics where abortions are performed. the house is occupied by Father McGrath, a member of the Word of God.
But Lacey says Monaghan's activities are merely part of being a good Christian. "We can't just follow a Christian god, Jesus Christ, without getting off our backsides, sometimes and taking some action."
Reprinted witht permission from Toronto based, NOW magazine June 7-13, 1990 By Russ Bellant. Additional Research by Howard Goldenthal