Friday, September 25, 2009

The Father Rosica controversy

Rather Thomas Rosica, who heads the TV network Salt and Light, has recently caused quite a stir in the pro-life community.  Here is a brief summary of what happened.

Following the funeral of Ted Kennedy, in which the former senator was portrayed as a hero and a faithful Catholic despite his pro-abortion and anti-family views, many pro-lifers felt outraged that such an ardent promoter of the culture of death would receive such a glorious public Catholic funeral.  Some people (unwisely) contacted Salt and Light asking them to provide negative coverage of the event.
Instead, they got a series of aggressive and vitriolic attacks from Fr. Rosica against the pro-life movement in general and in particular. Father Rosica took exception to the idea that pro-life Catholics could use strong language to criticize other Catholics. Father Rosica presented these criticisms as being uncharitable, divisive, unmerciful and non-Christian.

To illustrate, I've compiled the insults that have been hurled at pro-lifers by Father Rosica in person or through his website.  Note: these criticisms are not solely addressed to LifeSite; the vast majority are directed towards the pro-life movement in general.

  • [LifeSite] is doing "the work of Satan" 
  • "something is terribly wrong in the pro-life movement." 
  • "Civility, charity, mercy and politeness seem to have dropped out of the pro-life lexicon."
  • "Their words and actions vitiate their efforts in favor of life." 
  • "not agents of life, but of division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment and violence." 
  • "I question whether or not they belong to the Catholic Church. Are such people Catholic?"
  • "make the Church and our efforts for life look ridiculous and terribly anti-Christian."
  • "deep-seated anger and hostility"
  • "Through vicious attacks launched on blogs, a new form of self-righteousness, 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!"
  • "Sowing seeds of hatred and division are not the work of those who wish to build a culture of life."
  • "contribute to the misery and division within the world and the Church"
  • "destroy and kill others along the way."
  • "very strong, antagonist approach"
  • "hostility towards women who would choose abortion"
  • "pushing their ideals onto the rest of society"
  • "judgmental instead of helpful and supportive"
  • "radical" 
  • "cruel and hateful individuals"
  • "so shrill, so angry and judgmental"
  • "ugly and threatening" 
  • "this is how the devil triumphs"
  • "character assassination"
  • "[LifeSite] is not credible, it does not speak for the Church, it is not ethical, it is not honest"
  • "wreaking division and havoc"
  • [LifeSite] is not an authentic instrument at the service of unity and at the service of the Church. It is causing division. For the 1/10 of kernel of truth that they purport to uncover (and there is truth in what they do) 9/10 is exaggeration."
  • "[LifeSite] is bombastic, it is derisive and it is divisive."
  • "pit people against each other"
  • "wanting to set up a parallel Church"
  • "cast aspersions or to dismiss or discredit what the bishops are trying to do" 
I feel so despised, disdained and derided.

Read here for the Vatican's view of how the Kennedy funeral should have been handled.  You'll see that it confirms everything that pro-lifers have been saying and contradicts what Fr. Rosica has been saying.

The oddest thing about this episode, is that Father Rosica did exactly what he was reproaching pro-lifers:  he openly criticized his fellow Catholics and he used such seething and inflammatory language as I have never seen used against pro-lifers, not even by the pro-abortion lobby.

This proves an important point:  his criticism of criticism is a hoax, a smoke-screen.  He himself realizes that constructive criticism is an integral part of Catholicism.  It's technically called "admonishing the sinner" and it is essential for the salvation of souls that have gone astray.

Unfortunately, Fr. Rosica has a distorted view of Catholicism.  But you will rarely hear him saying something overtly anti-Catholic.  He has a history of saying the right things (e.g. "I am pro-life"), but he tends to be unwilling to "take up his cross" by putting his reputation on the line in defending Church teachings.  For example, when he interviewed Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, an infamous pro-abortion "Catholic", he remained silent while McGuinty expressed his disagreement with Church teaching on same-sex marriage. All this was broadcast on Salt and Light TV.  Is that Fr. Rosica's idea of good Catholic programming?  Contrast this to the beautiful witness of John Pacheco and David MacDonald who, in the last two elections, ran against Dalton McGuinty and publicly rebuked him for his anti-family positions.  Now that's heroic virtue.

To read more about the Fr. Rosica controversy, please visit Socon or Bust here and here

I agree with Fr. Rosica on one important point:  the Church is indeed divided.  The fracture is between those who want to follow the Vatican and those who have invented a lovey-dovey Catholicism (such as Fr. Rosica) where the primary goal is to never contradict anybody, even if they're dead wrong and rotting in mortal sin. Passivity can lead to complacency, which is often abused by ill-willed politicians and others.

This isn't about pro-lifers being self-righteous.  Just open up the Bible or the Catechism, or listen to the Vatican's statements.  We're simply trying to obey the Truth as it was handed down over the centuries, not invent our own path.

Please pray for Fr. Rosica.