Fr. Rosica’s recent intervention with regard to thet Fr. Gravel lawsuit against LifeSiteNews and Campagne Québec-Vie is not surprising. It fits perfectly with his pattern displayed during the Development and Peace scandal and the Kennedy funeral fiasco. There at least two commonalities:
- In all cases, Fr. Rosica has sought to deny anybody the right to criticize obstinate dissenters, especially clergymen, even when they commit huge and deliberate scandals in public. Of course, he reserves himself the right to criticize the people to whom he has denied the right of criticism.
- Fr. Rosica chooses to excuse other people’s obstinate and unrepented sins by focusing exclusively on their better qualities.
Let look at each case briefly:
- At Kennedy’s funeral, it didn’t matter if a Cardinal and pro-abort Catholic politicians were eulogizing the most notorious pro-abort politician of our time, because the man also did good things, like help alleviate poverty and support immigration.
- As for Fr. Gravel, it doesn’t seem to matter that he’s pro-choice and pro-same-sex-marriage, even to the point of publicly challenging the Pope and the Canadian bishops. We shouldn’t hold that against him because he’s a nice guy who has done some good stuff.
- In the case of Development and Peace, the evidence was never given a fair hearing. The Canadian bishops and D&P were not to be reproached. After all, D&P was doing lots of good things.
We observe a pattern whereby Fr. Rosica overlooks grave public dissent in favour of good works. This not only poor theology, but also horrible pastoral practice. The implicit takeaway for any casual observer is that practicing good deeds buys you a license to commit the most horrible and extreme public sins. As long as you do some good, you’re free to do whatever other sin comes to mind.
It’s certainly good and virtuous to focus on the positives in a person rather than their negatives. But the negatives cannot be ignored or brushed away if they reflect an obstinate and conscious decision to recklessly disregard Church teaching and sound morality. Especially when such actions are done in public by a person in authority who has the power to influence and mislead so many people.
I’m actually impressed that Fr. Gravel has allegedly convinced some women to not have abortions. That’s awesome. I don’t think I can say the same of myself. Good for him. But how many women have been emboldened to go ahead with abortions, drawing from Fr. Gravel’s words the ammunition necessary to stifle their consciences and rationalize the unjustifiable?
Therein lines the incoherence and danger of Fr. Rosica’s approach. That’s not Christianity. Jesus had very harsh warnings for people who lead others astray. The Church has forcefully maintained this teaching over the centuries. We all have a big responsibility in this regard.
If faithful Catholics don’t publicly stand up to correct the erroneous actions and statements of public dissenters, then how are we going to prevent the young and the new adherents to the Faith from going astray? Having the dissenter corrected in private by his bishop is not enough because the misled masses also need to be directed back onto the right way.
Jesus calls us to become perfect. Of course, nobody ever pulls it off. But we have to sincerely try. In every situation. There’s no excuse for any of us to pick an area of our life where we consciously renounce being Christian. That’s what Kennedy, Fr. Gravel and D&P did on various moral issues. And they did it publicly, obstinately and defiantly, over the span of years while resisting correction. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue or a moment of weakness. It was a persistent rebellion and capitulation.
It’s definitely a big deal. Catholics are correct to be concerned. But don’t take my word for it. The Vatican’s actions have shown that Fr. Rosica is wrong on all counts:
- With regard to international development, the Vatican stopped funding UNICEF years ago because they were pushing aggressively on contraception. More recently, the head of Caritas International, the Vatican’s own D&P, was given the pink slip by the Vatican because of problems related to the Catholic identity of the organization and cooperation with the Holy See. In both cases, the organization’s good work wasn’t an excuse to overlook the bad.
- On the Kennedy funeral, Archbishop Raymond Burke, head of the highest Vatican court (the Apostolic Signatura), spoke at length about the scandal caused by the funeral and rebuked those individuals (like Fr. Rosica) who defended the event.
- Finally, in the case of Fr. Gravel, we know from his own words and the Vatican’s public actions that his good deeds were no excuse for his dissent.
So why is Fr. Rosica setting himself against the Vatican’s example?
He’s 0 for 3 on these matters. At best, he’s exhibiting poor judgment. At worst, he’s indifferent to the fate of the laity or harbouring dissent. Either way, his approach is wrong. Don’t follow it. He’s clearly misguided in minimizing the gravity of dissent and blasting those who are trying to clean up the mess.