Well, it looks like Fr. Rosica has pulled out of his pending legal action against Vox Cantoris. You can read his rather curious statement and Vox’s response to it here.
I’d like to make a few observations.
#1 – Divorcing Public and Private Action – In Fr. Rosica’s statement, he says that his action should not be taken in an institutional capacity:
Having been strongly advised to respond, as an individual and in no institutional capacity to the Vatican or to my place of work…
Uh, sorry, Father. That’s not the way it works. You cannot divorce what you do in your public capacity…from what you do in your…er….public capacity. The legal threat was based on responses due to your public positions on Church teaching. And, even if it were a private matter, you still cannot divorce your public position from what you do in private, especially as a priest! This is such a basic point that it is quite astounding that a media spokesman for the Catholic Church cannot comprehend it. Did you really think that a Vatican PR man could get away with a lawsuit against a Catholic blogger and not have it stir an intolerable hornet’s nest around the Vatican itself? Really? Just in case you did not get the memo, Father, you are under authority and so any action you commit has the tacit assent of your superiors…including the Pope.
#2 – No Intent To Sue – In Fr. Rosica’s statement, he says that it was never his intention to sue.
Having been strongly advised to respond, as an individual and in no institutional capacity to the Vatican or to my place of work, to the continuous false, slanderous statements of a blogger over a long period of time that resulted in gross distortion, misinformation, many phone calls, letters and clear threats from callers based on the repeated false information contained in the blog, it was never my intention to sue, but rather to issue a letter to “cease and desist” the frivolous calumny. A legal firm, offering its service pro bono to us, issued a letter to cease and desist. No lawsuit was ever launched against the blogger! The matter is now closed.
Gentle reader, how many people consult defamation lawyers who don’t intend to sue or leave that option open? One generally seeks the intervention of a defamation lawyer to do one of two things: to sue or to threaten to sue. He could have sent his own personal letter to “cease and desist” without a lawyer. One involves a lawyer because one wants to threaten financial consequences. Indeed, the letter sent by Fr. Rosica’s lawyer was not blowing daffodils at Vox Cantoris. That’s for sure. Check out the last paragraph in the selection below. These are not words of serenity and tranquility. These are the words of ripping Vox’s financial guts out, even if he were to offer to remove all of the posts in question, promise never to say Fr. Rosica’s exalted name again on this side of heaven, and issue a humiliating apology with hat-in-hand.
Even if Fr. Rosica was bluffing and really never had any intention to go through with it, is this the appropriate conduct of a priest – to try to legally intimidate a Catholic blogger and threaten for financial damages? I think not. It is not really that becoming of a priest to bluff. And speaking of bluffing, I recommended to Vox to call the bluff when I talked to him, shortly after this sad episode broke:
“David“, I said, “You good at poker? If you’re a good poker player, you can win. ‘Cause that’s the game that you are playing now.”
#3 – Progressive Inquisition – Friends, just think what would have happened in the Church if Vox did not have the cojones to stand up to Fr. Rosica. What kind of precedent would it have started among the Progressive bullies in the Church? What kind of atmosphere of fear and trepidation would it have created among us…always wondering if we should pull our punches, maybe not criticize that heresy being promoted by such and such a cleric, calling out the lies and subterfuge of what is sure to transpire at the Synod, etc., etc.. The chill would have been present to the Synod itself and beyond. We all owe Vox Cantoris a hearty thank you. And at the end of the day, what won this round was courage and a willingness to fight:
Our response to that continued threat of litigation was to advise that we would no longer engage in a campaign of letters and lawfare resulting in a slow and painful bankruptcy. We advised that as of the close of business on March 3, 2015, we would begin to prepare a robust defense should it become necessary and a crowd-funding campaign to finance a rigorous defense.
#4 – Poor Judgement, Better Judgement – This whole sad and pathetic episode reminds me of Our Lord’s parable:
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ – Luke 14:28-30
Fr. Rosica could not or would not continue with his legal action. But did he really believe that a defendant with a good part of the Catholic internet behind him would roll over so quickly, and that given his position as a 1) Catholic Priest 2) a public person and 3) media spokesman for the Vatican, he would be able to finish what he started? The parable above is very apropos.
I will credit Fr. Rosica for pulling out when he did, however. Whether that was him counting the costs or someone counting the cost for him, we will likely never know.
I can say, however, it’s a good thing for Fr. Rosica’s reputation that he did pull out when he did. He simply does not have any idea of what would have hit him if he had proceeded.
And that’s no bluff, either….because whether he wants to believe it or not, there are some of us who have shown and are showing much restraint.