One of Canada’s best-known priests, Rev. Thomas Rosica, CSB, has described the pro-life critics of the Kennedy funeral as “not agents of life, but of division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment, and violence.” Father Rosica is CEO of a Catholic Canadian television network — Salt + Light, endorsed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In his September 3 blogpost, Father Rosica also made a veiled criticism of Raymond Arroyo, News Director of EWTN, for his August 31 comment, “Ted Kennedy: Catholic Legacy and the Letters.” Father Rosica aimed his criticism at the “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.” There is no one he could have meant but Arroyo, because no other colleagues in Catholic television have made negative comments about the funeral.
As a result, LifeSiteNews, based in Toronto, covered the story on September 4 with an article titled “Battle of the Catholic Stations: Salt and Light’s Fr. Rosica Rips EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo over Kennedy Funeral.” John-Henry Westen, writing for LifeSiteNews, opined, “The root of Fr. Rosica’s concerns seems to be the fact that lay persons are daring to publicly question the actions of clergy.”
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Faher Rosica, however, later slammed Westen’s article and denied his reference was aimed directly at Arroyo. In a September 9 interview with Bob Dunning on “Across the Nation” (Sirius Catholic Radio), the priest said:
I don’t agree with Raymond Arroyo’s blog that he wrote criticizing Cardinals McCarrick and O’Malley…. For them to say that I aimed everything at Raymond Arroyo; there were about 20 different people. Raymond Arroyo was the most public that they cited, which I didn’t mention in my article, but we all saw Raymond Arroyo’s blog, but we saw many other people stirring up — and priests especially, who claim to be pro-life, causing more division in the Church. (Taken from a transcript of the program.)
Father Rosica went on to explain to Dunning, “I think civility, charity, kindness, and humanity — when they fall from the picture, when they are not present, we have a big problem on our hands.” Yet, in his September 3 blogpost this is how he described the critics of the Kennedy funeral:
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! 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…. Sowing seeds of hatred and division are not the work of those who wish to build a culture of life (emphasis added).
I have read through Arroyo’s comment several times and have found nothing like what Father Rosica describes above. Interestingly enough, the priest also took a swing at the internationally respected LifeSite News:
For the 1/10th of kernel of truth that they purport to uncover, and there is truth in what they do, 9/10ths is exaggeration. It is bombastic, it is derisive and it is divisive (emphasis added).
Once again I find nothing in Westen’s story that sounds as “bombastic” as Father Rosica’s own comments.
Father Rosica is an influential priest as well as an accomplished scholar. He has been known to defend Catholic dissenters in the past, as he did in 1996 as director of the Newman Center at the University of Toronto. 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.
Father Rosica called the police to remove a group of protesters handing out flyers documenting the damage Professor Baum, an excommunicated priest, had done the Church. “That’s pure madness in those flyers,” Toronto’s Catholic Register (May 27, 1996) reported Father Rosica as saying. (Baum was one of the leading dissenters from Humanae Vitae.)
Not surprisingly, Father Rosica now criticizes those who questioned the wisdom of a funeral for a famously pro-abortion politician which, as Arroyo wrote, “was truly about cementing the impression, indeed catechizing the faithful, that one can be a Catholic politician, and so long as you claim to care about the poor, you may licitly ignore the cause of life.”
Yes, there were scattered blog comments attacking the funeral and the participation of Cardinals O’Malley and McCarrick. But I am not aware of a single recognized Catholic commentator who is guilty of the invective which Father Rosica describes. Just as I wrote last week that none of the major critics of the Kennedy funeral was guilty of what Bishop Morlino warned against — delight in a soul’s damnation — none is guilty of “the division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment, and violence” bemoaned by Father Rosica.
He told Dunning, “Let’s call a spade, a spade.” Indeed, let’s! We should begin by hearing the names of the “20 different people” who are sowing this division by disagreeing with Father Rosica. That would be a good place to start.