Before there was the Ave Maria Fund, there was the Catholic Values Investment Fund.
Started in 1997 by veteran banker Walter Miller, the Milford, Conn.-based fund has $30 million in assets and a board consisting of former Vatican Ambassadors Tom Malady and Bill Wilson; former Ireland Ambassador Margaret Heckler; Tim May, a senior managing partner in the Washington law firm of Patton & Boggs; and Alfred E. Smith, grandson of the former New York governor whose name he shares.
Tom Monaghan, whom Miller described as a “very good friend” left the fund's board last year to start the Ave Maria Mutual Fund.
“He's a very committed person and he wanted to start his own fund, and he did so,” Miller said. “There is plenty of room for competition.”
As to the difference between the two funds, Miller said his own guiding light is the Church's magisterium. He explained that if the magisterium has identified a particular trade or practice as immoral, any businesses that engage in or support that trade are excluded from his fund. But if the magisterium hasn't spoken out on a topic—even a controversial one—neither does Miller.
“Investors can be assured that that their investment would adhere as closely to the magisterium as possible,” Miller said, noting that there are “gray areas,” such as atomic energy, that some individuals might oppose, but which the Church hasn't spoken on definitively.
On Monaghan's decision to leave the Catholic Values Investment Fund, Miller said: “I'm wishing him well. And I truly mean that. I wish we were still together, but you can understand a man of that background wanting to do what he wants to do.
“We hope that more people will turn toward us, but we can understand why they would go with his fund too. It's another option.”
— Brian McGuire