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The problem with the Archdiocese of Detroit viz a viz RCTV is……..UPDATED! January 5, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, General Catholic, sadness, scandals, sickness.

…….not that the AOD is acting outside its area of competence, it’s that it is patently unjust in its incredibly inconsistent application of this particular discipline, according to Rorate Caeli:

Dr. E. Peters (via Fr. J. Zuhlsdorf) is right on the simplest interpretation of the Canon: “The plain text of this canon [Can. 216] unquestionably puts the burden on those behind an undertaking to secure consent from the competent ecclesiastical authority before claiming the name ‘Catholic’ for their project(s).”

 However, even if one ignores the significant aspect of who has actual canonical competence in this case (or in any case involving online media based in several different canonical jurisdictions), he passes over one very, very relevant point, which is as important in Canon Law as in Common or Civil Law: Law and Justice must walk hand in hand. That is particularly relevant in Ecclesiastical Law since one expects a heightened sense of moral considerations in its application. Therefore, while it is true that the burden is on the side of “those behind an undertaking”, there are burdens of justice on the side of the “competent ecclesiastical authority”: if he wishes to proclaim loudly that A “cannot use the name Catholic”, he must in justice do the same with every single enterprise within his jurisdiction, be it B or C or U, which must be under constant examination for whether they “deserve” to use or keep using the title “Catholic”.
In this, as in most cases involving serious Catholics in the past decades, what irks people, even if they somehow do not know how to express it, is precisely this: the injustice in the application of the law by dioceses or even by Higher Authority. There is nothing in law more prone to abuse than an apparently “clear” or “plain” law, precisely because it demands great care in its application, that is not supposed to be simply uniform, but must be equitably just for all. Do all remember how the “clear” and “plain” “abrogation” of the Traditional Mass was defended by most Canonists for decades, and how abuses became norms in the Pauline Mass, while the Traditional Mass was persecuted with no quarter?…
Is stating that something that “claims the title ‘Catholic’ does not have canonical authorization to do so” a regular action of the Archdiocese of Detroit? Or does the Canon apply only to one particular enterprise? How about sending a “Defend the Catholic Name Inspection team” to every parish and “institution” in the diocese: we are absolutely convinced that a team composed of orthodox Catholics would be horrified at what is being said, done, and taught under the “Catholic” name from some pulpits and in classrooms. It is not even really hidden: for a very diminute example, the Catholic & Jesuit University of Detroit Mercy has never stopped linking to Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women in their website (and this is what is available in one single webpage, one shudders to think at what may take place in “Women and Gender’s Studies” classes in the university.) Despite the appropriate behavior of the Archdiocese during the “American Catholic Council”/Call to Action conference last year (see 1, 2, 3), the canon on the prohibition of the word “Catholic” without “consent” was never invoked even then, when the actual integrity of Catholic doctrine was affected.Let us be clear: the selective application and loud proclamation of this Canon for one case only, amidst the disastrous situation of the Church in general, looks ridiculous. It  does not make the Archdiocese look admirable and law-abiding, but petty and small. Finally, the fact that it is completely unenforceable in civil courts, since the Archdiocese does not have exclusive intellectual property rights over the name “Catholic”, makes it look weak and toothless. “Dura lex sed lex” has always been a problematic brocard; it can also be dangerous when those guided by it are not informed by a keen sense of equity and justice. 
As Rorate Caeli mentions, there are variables at play that may undermine the Archdiocese of Detroit’s case, but I suspect that, in the end, RCTV will have to change their name in some way.  Perhaps, Real CatholicS TV, or whatever.  But the manifest injustice of this selective application is both revealing and depressing.  Faithful Catholics are called to be “good soldiers” and fall on our swords at times, but this egregious persecution of a faithful group, when so  many heterodox/dissenting/heretical groups go unpunished is just about enough to make one choke. 
And a new record!  Nine posts in one day!
UPDATE:  Speaking of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Larry D at Acts of the Apostasy notes that a recent issue of Mosaic, the publication of the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, includes a description of an illicit, possibly invalid baptism as a delightful and heartwarming vignette.  Heartwarming as it may be, does this description of a likely invalid baptism belong in the official journal of the Diocesan seminary with no clarification?!   Detroit is the home of Call to Action, and retired Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, and numerous problems of heterodoxy and heteropraxis.  One wonders at the energy being expended in the direction of RCTV with all the numerous other pressing issues in Detroit – but it is possible this “enforcement of discipline” regarding RCTV is a sort of quid pro quo, or proof that Archbishop Vigneron isn’t solely pursuing those of a certain set of beliefs (it could be “proof” that he’s rigorously enforcing the “rules” on everyone).   I note in passing that Dr. Ed Peters, who has staunchly defended the AOD in this matter with Voris, is on the staff of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. 
UPDATE THE SECOND: So, Diane at Te Deum Laudamus dropped by to chide me for not following up this post religiously and noting that Ed Peters had commented on this and determined that the baptism was valid, but illicit.  That’s awesome.  Peter’s also went on to note that the “issue” has been addressed, but that it just hasn’t made it to print, yet.  We shall see what develops, I suppose, but retractions rarely have the same weight as the issue, or even scandal, that prompt them. 
It’s funny when a mere sidebar to a 1000 word post gets more atttention than the post itself!


1. Colleen Hammond - January 5, 2012

Nine? Impressive!

The posting on Rorate points out that this is more of a justice issue. As I’ve stated elsewhere, here are my questions:

1. What qualifications does one have to meet in order to be allowed to use the word “Catholic”?
2.Who is the competent authority one has to appeal to in order to use the word “Catholic”?
3.What has RCTV done to be disallowed from using the name “Catholic”?
4.What do they have to do to now in order to qualify to use “Catholic” in their title?

You can read this “insider report”, for example, to see that Mr Voris DID write to the diocese about using the name “Catholic” and the diocese did not reply…for 18 months!!!…until the press release last month. THAT was how the diocese ‘communicated’ with Mr Voris http://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/01/dr-peters-about-michale-voris-realcatholic-tv-and-the-archd-of-detroit/#comment-315645

Mary - January 6, 2012

We should be surprised that’s how bishops choose to correspond – through the internet.

2. TerryE - January 6, 2012

Perhaps every bishop in every diocese should defend what is truly Catholic and condemn what falsely calls itself Catholic in each and every instance in his diocese? If true, what a fearful burden that must be, for I imagine his salvation depends on fulfilling his duty as an apostle of Christ. Even if what I put forth is only partially true, that is still a fearful burden. At least I am afraid for our bishops.

tantamergo - January 6, 2012

Not sure if you’re being facetious or not, Terry, but what you describe is precisely one of the prime roles of a bishop – to support and defend the Faith in every way, to make clear what IS Catholic and what is not, and to apply these standards fairly and equitably. If a given bishop pursues only a certain type of organization to the exclusion of others, it points to an inequitable or unjust application of Church Law.

As I stated, I do think RCTV should appeal this decision through whatever venues are available, but if the decision comes down that Detroit is the competent authority and that RCTV cannot use the term “Catholic,” then I think they’ll have to fall on their sword. But that does not mean that the lay faithful cannot note any iniquity in the situation with irony and dismay.

Now that some additional information has come out, I can state that RCTV has tried repeatedly to engage with the Archdiocese of Detroit to determine what steps they could take to use the ‘Catholic’ name with the approval of the Diocese, and they have been met with silence. Michael Voris engaged with the Diocese 3 years ago on this issue, and for the last 18 months has received nothing in reply, until this press release condemning their use of the term. Rorate Caeli asks some interesting questions that I think are relevant. What concrete steps is the Diocese of Detroit willing to take beyond ths press release? What about the very checkered history of the AOD and its relationship with dissenting or heretical organizations?

See my update of the post.

But, Terry, the main point is, it is absolutely critical and vital that all bishops examine groups that purport to be Catholic and determine whether they meet the standard of that glorious definition. Failure to do so has been a huge problem in the Church for decades, and is one of the prime reasons there is so much heresy and apostasy about, and why so many Catholics are in terminal confusion as to what the Church believes, and requires them to believe. It’s an enormous issue, and it’s why people are so upset that a faithful group is being persecuted, if you will, when so many dissenting groups seem to get a free pass. Archbishop Vigneron, for instance, has never condemned former Bishop Gumbleton and his many departures from Catholic dogma.

TerryE - January 7, 2012

No facetiousness intended. I don’t get mad at the bishops who seem to play unfair any more. I am worried for them.

Kevin Shook (@DFWSHOOK) - January 6, 2012

Here is a group that cause more scandal and more harm than RCTV. Elephants In The Living Room

3. Mary - January 6, 2012

The bishops shouldn’t pick on a traditional Catholic (who is NOT misleading Catholics) and turn their backs on groups and activities that are blatantly not Catholic (so-called catholic universities, medical groups, gay activities, and public organizations that fund abortion.) Their record seems to indicate they prefer these such groups. Satan is at war, we will all have to defend ourselves soon.

4. Kevin Shook (@DFWSHOOK) - January 6, 2012

I have a suggestion: Why don’t the bishops start within their office and work outward? After they have cleared their offices of hetrodoxy, then they can start cleaning up what is said and done by priests and deacons. After they remove the lumber from their own eyes, then they can start addressing the splinters in the eyes among the lay. And it appears that there is a lot of lumber in the eyes of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Kevin Shook (@DFWSHOOK) - January 6, 2012

Should be “heterodoxy” not “hetrodoxy”. Sorry.

5. Ben - January 6, 2012

Re the baptism, Dr. Peters has commented: http://goo.gl/2Y1A7

6. Diane - January 7, 2012

I think you are going to want to update your post, as Ben says. Larry has already made adjustments to his post; further discussion in combox.


Here’s Larry’s post, with his updates/comments so you don’t have to scroll back up.


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