Fr. Tom Rosica, the CEO of Salt + Light TV, has posted a scathing, malicious, and bizarre attack on the Catholic pro-life community on Salt & Light’s blog, wildly accusing critics of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s public funeral of “division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment and violence…destroying and killing others“.
Salt + Light is Canada’s Catholic national TV station. According to their own website, they think of themselves as our “Channel of Hope”. I have a different view of them, however, which has been shaped by their coverage of the abortion scandal involving Development & Peace, the Canadian Catholic Bishops’ official development and aid agency. The sad reality is that Salt + Light essentially took on the mouth-piece role for Msgr. Weisgerber and the CCCB instead of being a genuine news source and a service to the truth about the corruption in the Church today. (The problem with taking on such a role is that although it earns the respect and support of Development & Peace and the CCCB, it has little to no credibility when addressing the controversial issues of corruption and cover-up of those same organizations. No legitimate news organization that has the slightest bit of interest in pursuing the validity of a story ignores the massive and incontrovertible evidence right before its eyes. And yet that is exactly what Salt + Light did and continues to do.) Fr. Rosica himself interviewed Msgr. Weisgerber in an unbalanced and embarrassing episode which sought to completely white-wash Development & Peace’s involvement with abortion groups in the Global South and to ignore the overwhelming evidence against their funding practices. Even when Archbishop Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, called for a “thorough review” of the entire organization, its policies, and its mandate, and continually emphasized that if deep renewal was not achieved, the future of Development & Peace would be in jeopardy, Fr. Rosica subsequently tried to spin the Archbishop’s judgement into something other than a rebuke to Development & Peace which it clearly was. The Archbishop’s judgement completely vindicated LifeSiteNews and Socon or Bust’s reporting of the D&P abortion scandal by ensuring that any future money given to D&P’s groups from the Archdiocese of Toronto be approved by the bishops of those countries – a very sensible, pragmatic and diplomatic solution to the crisis, but hardly necessary if Development & Peace were not engaged in problematic initiatives in the first place.
Why is this important to his blog post concerning the Kennedy public funeral scandal? Because it provides the context in which to read his vitriolic and incendiary remarks about the pro-life community. It is very evident that he believes the pro-life movement has become a threat to his view of how the Church should witness to the world – or, more to the point – not witness to it at all when the price becomes too steep to pay. That’s why Fr. Rosica has reacted the way he did in his post. Let me offer some remarks on his comments. He writes:
As a Roman Catholic Priest who is pro-life, I was proud of my Church last week, and grateful for the courageous and gracious actions of American Church leaders in Boston and Washington, who opened the doors of their Church to reveal a Gospel of mercy and hospitality, in the midst of sinfulness and ambiguity of public leaders who are in need of conversion, forgiveness and prayers, like the rest of us.
Would these “doors of the church which reveal a Gospel of mercy and hospitality” be open to the celebration of a similar public figure who had publicly espoused (and never subsequently recanted) views in support of legalized pedophilia, prostitution, euthanasia or some other current socially unacceptable sin? If the doors of the Church are indeed open to the celebration of every unrepentant slut, pimp, thief, murderer and abortion-pusher, then shouldn’t someone tell St. Paul?
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. (1 Cor.6:9-11)
I am not sure just what kind of Gospel was revealed when the Church opened its doors last Saturday, but it sure doesn’t sound like the Gospel that St. Paul speaks about. It sounds like another kind of gospel.
About a year ago in Italy the Church denied an ecclesiastical funeral for a nationally known campaigner for euthanasia who requested and obtained the removal of his life-support system. When we consider the Church’s refusal to conduct such a funeral, it shines a light on what happened in Boston.
What we have learned from the Kennedy funeral affair is that while someone can politically advocate for the latest grievous sin, be responsible for its promotion and advocacy, and be entitled to a wonderful, public funeral with Yo-Yo Ma and Placido Domingo performing for family and friends, the same cannot be said for someone who seeks to procure that same grievous sin for himself. In his case, he will be denied not only a public funeral but even a private one. So in other words, if you are a scandalous politician, the Church gives you a pass. If you are just a schmoe who acts on what the politician lobbies for, the Church will deny you even a private funeral. I ask you, dear reader: does that makes any sense whatsoever?!
In fact, is there any position or belief held by one of the Church’s public members which would disqualify such a member from a public funeral? Canon law seems to suggest there is, at least in principle:
Can. 1184 §1. Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals:
#1/ notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics;
#2/ those who chose the cremation of their bodies for reasons contrary to Christian faith;
#3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.
§2. If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.
While the above Canon applies only to those who remained unrepentant and does not concern a public funeral per se, the principle of not scandalizing the faithful still remains in force (Cf. Can.1184 §1.3). It is hard to imagine a scenario more grievous and scandalous than the events surrounding the public legacy of Senator Edward Kennedy. The man advocated the most heinous crime imaginable, and his influence and reach in securing the protection and promotion of abortion and sodomy have proved to be an incalculable cancer on the body of Christ. If the above canon’s principle does not apply to Sen. Kennedy, then no baptized Catholic can be refused a public funeral for anything at all. The problem, of course, is not with the Church’s teaching or its canon law. As with the issue of refusing pro-abortion Catholic politicians communion, the law is clear. The problem is not the law. The problem is the resolve to apply it and to accept the inevitable “Cross” of negative public opinion once it is applied. Isn’t what this controversy is really about? The Cross and The Sacrifice that awaits us? I think it is.
Leading up to the Kennedy funeral last weekend, and in its aftermath, many so-called lovers of life and activists in the pro-life movement, as well as well-known colleagues in Catholic television broadcasting and media in North America…
I agree with LifeSiteNews that “the reference to “well-known colleagues in Catholic television broadcasting” was a thinly-veiled reference to EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo. After the funeral and burial Saturday, Arroyo issued a blogpost highlighting the devastating effect of the prelates’ involvement in the funeral. On his blog Arroyo wrote, “The prayer intercessions at the funeral mass, the endless eulogies, the image of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston reading prayers, and finally Cardinal McCarrick interring the remains sent an uncontested message: One may defy Church teaching, publicly lead others astray, deprive innocent lives of their rights, and still be seen a good Catholic, even an exemplary one.”” (Source)
…have revealed themselves to be not agents of life, but of division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment and violence. Their words and actions vitiate their efforts in favor of life. Their open and public attacks against Cardinal Séan O’Malley, OFM, Cap, Archbishop of Boston; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C.; the priests involved in the funeral liturgy in Boston’s historic Mission Basilica, (be they Redemptorist, Jesuit or Diocesan) indicate that something is terribly wrong in the pro-life movement.
Something is not terribly wrong in the pro-life movement. Rather, something is terribly wrong with the Church’s teachers in this country, and in particular a certain clerical class that Fr. Rosica belongs to. It’s the class which doesn’t have a clue as to what abortion really is about or how it came to be in this country, much less the repentance that is required from our spiritual fathers in the faith to bring about its defeat. Instead, like his whole-scale denials about the abortion scandal of Development & Peace, the Church itself continues to deny its central role in ushering in contraception, abortion, and homosexuality into this country. Despite the disaster that has befallen our nation which is very evident for everyone to see, the Church’s pastors refuse – absolutely refuse – to acknowledge ^^^ the elephant in the room ^^^. Instead, Fr. Rosica has the temerity to make a pathetic attempt to smear a whole and significant constituency in the Catholic Church with a trite caricature of who we are. Instead of removing the plank out of his own eye, he refuses to see what he is truly condemning. Moreover, I’m not really sure what constituency he is trying to impress with his rather wild outburst — it can’t be a positive move for his viewing audience at Salt + Light which comprises, I should think, a healthy number of upset pro-lifers.
This is an incredible slander and malicious attack on the Catholic pro-life media. “Hatred, judgement, violence?” There has been no such sentiment expressed from the pro-life media outlets at all. Fr. Rosica simply cannot tolerate any criticism whatsoever against those in authority, even when there has been a clear and unmistakable breach in the Church’s witness. He has a track record of that.
Back in 1996, a group of faithful Catholics were peacefully protesting a lecture by noted dissenter and defrocked theologian Gregory Baum at Toronto University’s Catholic Newman Centre. Much to the astonishment and annoyance of Father Rosica, Newman’s director at the time, “a group of two dozen protesters appeared, handing out flyers which documented how Professor Baum, an excommunicated priest, had done the Church much harm in the past. Their point: he should never have been invited to speak at a Catholic institution. “That’s pure madness in those flyers,” Toronto’s Catholic Register (May 27) reported Fr. Rosica as saying. The director [Fr. Rosica] called the police, ostensibly to “restrain” the picketers, but when the former showed up in strength in response to the alarm call they found the protesters perfectly peaceful and left them to their business” (Source). Gregory Baum, the subject of the protest, was one of the leading dissenters of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical condemning contraceptive acts. Baum was a catalyst in the adoption of the disastrous Winnipeg Statement.
Last year, Fr. Rosica interviewed Dalton McGuinty as a “devout” practicing Catholic on his program Witness. McGuinty, in talking about his faith, stated that he’s a practicing Catholic, but differs with the Holy Father on the issues of abortion and same-sex “marriage.” Rosica said nothing and just kept nodding and then went on to something else. Some viewers were outraged and sickened by the scandalous message Rosica was sending out, and wrote to him. They received no reply from Rosica and the program was repeated on at least two occasions.
During the Development & Peace controversy earlier this year, Fr. Rosica personally called me and we engaged in a very ugly confrontation about a poorly veiled attack on the Holy Father by Bishop Durocher of Cornwall and about the Development & Peace scandal itself. After I questioned him about his position on Development & Peace, he dismissed my objections to their funding pro-abortion groups by smoothly claiming that the bishops were investigating the matter despite the overwhelming evidence already available. When I pressed him on how easily it would be to check the sources given his prominence as a rising media star in the Catholic Church as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications no less, he patronizingly brushed me off like a kid. He asked me what gave me the right to say things that I said and went on to accuse me of being “self righteous”. That’s a typical ad hominem refrain we hear from the “social justice” crowd who simply refuse to debate the issue.
Civility, charity, mercy and politeness seem to have dropped out of the pro-life lexicon. Through vicious attacks launched on blogs, a new form of self-righteoussness (sic), condemnation and gnosticism reveals authors who behave as little children bullying one another around in schoolyards – casting stones, calling names, and wreaking havoc in the Church today!
Civility, charity, mercy, and politeness? Oh, he means like this: “If you please, sir, would you kindly remove that knife from the baby’s skull. She looks quite uncomfortable there, writhing in pain like that. No, no, I can take care of the clean up. You just go ahead and enjoy the funeral and pay tribute to Ted Kennedy. You’ll have to pick me up Yo-Yo’s latest CD release. Maybe the money changers in the Church lobby have some to sell. Give my best regards to the Cardinal and the President if you talk to them. Ta-Ta!”
What such people fail to realize is that their messages are ultimately screamed into a vacuum. No one but their own loud crowd is really listening.
Not to make a very big point of this, but Fr. Rosica should be careful in trying to villify a large part of his viewing audience – otherwise it will not be the pro-life media who will be screaming into a vaccum, it will be him. Father Rosica and Salt + Light run the risk of being the Church’s version of TV Marti, a station with no viewers. Is he not hip to his constituency? If so, then he should tune in to its demographics and stop shortsightedly bleeding his own viewership, in the same way, sadly, he’s bleeding the Church’s credibility on its teaching concerning the sanctity of unborn life.
We will never change laws and bring about conversion of minds and hearts with such behavior. We make the Church and our efforts for life look ridiculous and terribly anti-Christian. Sowing seeds of hatred and division are not the work of those who wish to build a culture of life.
Eye. Plank. Remove.
Obviously, there is going to be a lot of tension and anger in this controversy. People are going to blow their stacks and say things they shouldn’t say, like much of Fr. Rosica’s blogpost, for instance. That’s par for the course in the abortion debate. Even Archbishop Collins conceded as much in his letter regarding the Development & Peace controversy: “Even acrimonious controversy can be fruitful if, always acknowledging the good intentions of others, we make use of it to bring about improvement.” (Source)
And before Fr. Rosica gets too appalled at the reaction of pro-lifers to the Church’s active participation in Kennedy’s funeral, let him well reflect on and consider the reaction of 83 U.S. Catholic bishops who strenuously and candidly rebuked Fr. Jenkins’ decision to honour another pro-abortion politician, Barack Obama.
Permit me to add my name as well to the long list of Bishops of the Catholic Church who are utterly appalled at your dedication to immorality and wrong-doing represented by your support for the obscenity called ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and your absolute indifference to the murderous abortion program and beliefs of this President of the United States,” reads the brief letter, dated April 3. “The fact that you have some sort of past connection with the State of Nebraska makes it all the more painful that the Catholic people here have to see your betrayal of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church,” Bruskewitz wrote. “I can assure you of my prayers for your conversion, and for the conversion of your formerly Catholic University.” (Source)
As I mentioned in a previous post, perhaps Fr. Rosica can tell us why Catholic universities are not permitted to honour pro-abortion politicians at its events, but Catholic bishops can do so when it concerns a public funeral mass?
…CONTINUED BELOW, CLICK ON PART 2