Sunday, 7 October 2012

Rosica interviews Gregory Baum; who's next Hans Kung?

Thomas Rosica, Basilian Priest, head of Salt + Light Television, President of Assumption University and Consultor to the Pontifical Council on Social Communications who on your money from the collection taken up last week through grants from the CCCB for Needs to the Church in Canada, has the temerity to interview "pope-squat" supporter Gregory Baum.

Rosica previously hosted this heretic and excommunicate at the Newman Centre in Toronto. When faithful Catholics showed up to peacefully protest, he called the police and demanded that they be arrested. I know this first hand from a close friend of mine who was there peacefully watching, praying and handing out leaflets to protest the appearance of this man, he and others were witness to Fr. Rosica's actions outside St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel while Baum lectured inside.

Mr. Baum was a priest and peritus to the Canadian bishops at the Second Vatican Council. He made all the right friends during the day, Kung, Schillebeeckx, Rahner amongst them and at night he had our bishops all to himself. Then, they came back to Canada and created havoc in liturgy, theology and morals culminating in the Winnipeg Statement of which he--Baum and Bishop Emmeritus of Victoria and Enneagram Master Remi de Roo were its main instigators along with Pocock, the Carter Brothers and the rest of the "gang of five" which they preferred to be called.

Nobody did more to undermine the Catholic Church in Canada than Gregory Baum and Remi de Roo.

Salt + Light is as dead as a dodo. It does not deserve your support or your subscription.

Previously, when I've criticised the content of Father Roscia's speeches or other public pronouncements, I've been the recipient of a generous quantity of emails from him. Emails that are unbecoming of a Catholic priest, University President or Papal Consultor.

I expect this will be no different.

Toronto-- On May 6, 1996, at Toronto University's Catholic Newman Centre, Gregory Baum, 74, Catholic dissenter of nineteen sixties and seventies fame, delivered a lecture on his experience during the Second Vatican Council before a small audience of older people. Well before the event people wrote or telphoned the Centre questioning why this man had been invited. 

Much to the astonishment and annoyance of Newman's director, Father Tom Rosica, on the day of the lecture 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 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. 

Fr. Rosica also claimed that the Archdiocese had expressed no objection. And indeed, the Toronto archdiocesan Chancellor of spiritual affairs, Fr. John Murphy, was reported by the Catholic Register as saying that "banning" Baum would be inappropriate on a university campus "where this type of exchange is normal." Earlier in the year, on January 17, Baum also spoke at Regis College, the Jesuits' Toronto theologate. That, too, had been protested in vain. 


To "ban" a speaker is one thing but to invite a false prophet is another. What is at issue here is not the banning but the invitation. Professor Baum also gave a lecture at the University's Department of Philosophy and no picketers appeared there. Why then at the Newman Centre? Because Newman, as a Catholic Centre, ought not to invite people who habitually contradict Church teaching. When it does do so, Catholics may reasonably assume that those who extend the invitation share the speaker's contested views or do not consider them harmful. The picketers on the other hand follow St. Paul's advice: "We proclaim the truth openly and command ourselves to every man's conscience before God" (2 Cor 4:2). 

Who is Gregory Baum? 

Baum recently retired as Religious Studies professor at Montreal's McGill University. He attended the Council (1962-1965) as a "peritus" (expert) on ecumenism, then a new approach to relations among different faiths. 

Refusing to restrict himself to this area, the recent Jewish convert from agnosticism soon began to contradict Catholic teachings, chiefly in moral theology. He played an international role in preempting the Pope's and the Church's study of the moral status of artificial contraception by encouraging people not to wait in using it; and when its use was condemned, by contradicting Pope Paul V (On Human Life, 1968). (This and other matters were described in detail by Msgr. Vincent Foy in the above- mentioned flyers.) 

By the end of the sixties Baum switched to the study of sociology and from then on measured Church practice and doctrine by human standards. The St. Michael's College professor became an idol of the Toronto media, who treated him as the Catholic oracle in Canada. He appealed to them mostly because of his dissent from Catholic moral teaching, first on contraception, then on homosexuality. 

Baum's 1974 article on homosexuality in the U.S. Catholic weekly Commonweal (February 15)was used as a handout by homosexual activists throughout North America for almost two decades. In it he argued, first, the theme developed earlier by others that the biblical references condemning sodomy were really references to lack of hospitality; and, secondly, that Catholic teaching would change and endorse homosexuality within a few years. 

Father Baum was excommunicated automatically under the existing (1917) Code of Canon Law for sinning grievously by abandoning his vocation and "attempting" to get married while still a functioning priest. 

A few months ago, in April 1996, Professor Baum confirmed that his views have changed little when he publicly encouraged Federal Justice Minister Allan Rock to go ahead with Bill C-33, adding "sexual orientation" to the Canadian Human Rights Act, despite the Church's opposition and rejection of the measure.

Canadian Priest Accuses Pro-Lifers of Hatred and Bullying

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."
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.

Ted Kennedy, Salt + Light, Fr. Rosica, Politics and the Pro-Life Movement

I’ve been hesitant to post about this issue because I don’t want to encourage further infighting within the pro-life movement, but John Bentley Mays has a provocative article in the Catholic Register that I think warrants discussion.
First, the background (which is largely Catholic inside baseball): there was controversy over Ted Kennedy’s Catholic funeral, despite defenses from canon lawyers, and many tried to pressure the Catholic Salt + Light Television station into speaking out against the bishops and priests involved. Not only did Fr. Thomas Rosica (CEO of Salt + Light) refuse, but he issued a strong statementcritical of “viscious attacks” from within the pro-life movement. Then, jumped into the mix and… well, let’s just say it got messy. I don’t want to dwell on the in-fighting… I’d rather get onto Mays’ points.
Mays describes the series of events and blames it on pro-life “extremists,” and — more particularly — on the “hard right,” arguing that they’ve been ineffective in winning over hearts and minds, and suggesting that the discussion should be moved left of center. (emphases mine)
The current war by bloggers and voicemailers against Salt + Light Television and its CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica is a symptom that something has gone seriously wrong in the heart of the pro-life movement in Canada and the United States.
The ultra-militants among the right-to-lifers, of course, have many reasons to feel frustrated… their raving and ranting throughout this affair have almost certainly failed to cause a single person to join the struggle for the protection of the unborn.
They, and the right-to-life movement as a whole, are losing the battle for hearts and minds in the public forum… Clearly, nobody’s opinion is going to be changed for the better by the kind of vitriol spewed out at Fr. Rosica in the last few days. Replying to his critics on the Boston archdiocesan web site, Cardinal O’Malley writes (in words I fully support): If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us… Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other.”
But altering the tone of the discourse about abortion is not the only thing that needs to be done. The whole discussion should be moved out of the hard right political environment into the place it more naturally belongs: the debate over values and goals on the social-democratic left.
As a Catholic on this latter point in the political spectrum, I have long been dismayed by the hijacking of right-to-life issues by the right. The push for human and civil rights has always been a matter of urgency for the modern left, and whatever progress Canadian society has made in other matters important to Catholics — the protection of individual rights, the active agency of the state in caring for the weak, sick and disadvantaged, the levelling of the playing field — has been due to pressure from the left. The extension to the unborn of the human right to life, and opposition to the culture of death, should be central issues on the left. The fact that they’re not, so far, is a failure of imagination in the ongoing life and culture of social-democratic dialogue.
Meanwhile, we can hope the bloggers and blabbers attacking Fr. Rosica, Cardinal O’Malley and Salt+ Light will just shut up.
Wow. Fighting words.
Now, I don’t agree with Mays broad generalizations of politically conservative pro-lifers. Casting everyone you disagree with as an “extremist” or “ultra-militant” is just a little bit unfair.
However, if you can get beyond the disdain, I do think he makes an excellent point that these life issues need to be championed by people on the “left” as well. The more that life issues are cornered in a any political spectrum, the harder it will be to change hearts and minds.
Though, Mays’ approach to bash and blame the “hard right” isn’t exactly setting up a big tenteither. I wish he’d better follow the advice he so aptly highlights (“If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure”).
How can we appeal to Liberals and (hey, we can dream) NDPers without alienating conservatives? And, how much of this in-fighting is actually a result of politic differences anyways (i.e. are these two separate issues)?
And… is the absence of life issues as central to the social-democratic dialogue really just a failure of imagination? Or is it that many pro-lifers don’t feel terribly welcome left of center? Does it have anything to do with the fact the the NDP doesn’t tolerate pro-lifers, and that the Liberals tend to demonize them when politically convenient? How might we change that?
(And one other quibble: what’s with all the old folks complaining about “bloggers?”)

Blaise Alleyne completed a B. Sc. at the University of Toronto in 2009 with a major in Computer Science, and minors in English and Philosophy. He is currently a part-time student in the Master of Theological Studies program at Regis College, U of T. Blaise has been involved with UTSFL since becoming a member in 2005, and is now focused on education and activism with the club.
Posted in Abortion Tagged with: 
7 comments on “Ted Kennedy, Salt + Light, Fr. Rosica, Politics and the Pro-Life Movement
  1. Steve G says:
    Hello Blaise,
    Thanks for this insightful post. I admire students that do pro-life work on university campuses. That’s a tough crowd to work with!
    I would encourage you to not shy away from controversy, even if that means respectfully denouncing the clergy for their lack of effort on pro-life issues. If you haven’t already, you should read the excellent article by Archbishop Burke on the Kennedy funeral and the manner in which pro-lifers should deal with these issues. Here’s the link:
    Also, I would advise you against putting any trust in Fr. Rosica. He talks the talk, but he isn’t willing to put his butt on the line for the pro-life movement.
    Keep up the good work!
    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for the comment!
      I’m not afraid of controversy myself, though there are a couple reasons I’ve hesitated to wade too far into this fight here. Firstly, though many of our members are Catholic, UTSFL is a secular club — this is a particularly Catholic battle within the pro-life movement, somewhat inside baseball ish. And I think the in-fighting does a lot more harm than good to Catholic pro-life efforts — it’s become vicious (even Fr. Rosica, who’s ironically vicious and judgmental in his call for pro-lifers to not be vicious and judgmental…).
      I disagree with Rosica’s tone, and it’s unfortunate that he uses such harsh language with well-meaning pro-lifers (though, I’m not exactly a fan of, but I’m not sure it’s fair to say either that he isn’t willing to put his butt on the line for the pro-life movement. Salt+Light recently republished an article he wrote for the Sun in July 2008, for example: Gutless leaders strike again: Henry Morgentaler’s Order of Canada exposes spineless G-G, questionable commissions.
      I think both Rosica and could have handled the issue better, but I hesitate to dwell on specific criticisms (especially speaking on behalf of the club) that serve to build up walls within the pro-life movement. Disagreement is healthy, but this has become pretty nasty… I’d rather not fuel the fire.
  2. Steve G says:
    You’ve raised some good points. The Fr. Rosica article is good, but once again, it’s just talk. Have you ever seen him on the sidewalk with a pro-life sign during the 40 days for life? Or did he dare challenge “Catholic” Dalton McGuinty on his same-sex marriage views when Fr. Rosica interviewed him on S&L a couple of years ago? There is a reluctance to self-sacrifice, which is essential to our cause. On the contrary, remember that he called the police to have some faithful Catholics arrested outside his Newman Centre several years ago because they didn’t want a dissenter and excommunicated priest giving a lecture to impressionable Catholic students (…-a030006658)
    Archbishop Burke has a great quote in his article:
    “One of the ironies of the present situation is that the person who experiences scandal at the gravely sinful public actions of a fellow Catholic is accused of a lack of charity and of causing division within the unity of the Church.”
    “A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church. The Church’s unity is founded on speaking the truth with love. The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life. Were he not to experience scandal at the public support of attacks on human life and the family, his conscience would be uninformed or dulled about the most sacred realities.”
    Unity in the pro-life movement is great, but never at the expense of the truth. Unity only works if we are truly on the same page. If we aren’t, if we have profound divisions but are simply trying to pretend that they don’t exist, the effectiveness of the pro-life movement is undermined. I’ll never forget the experience of some pro-lifers witnessing in front of an abortion mill in the U.S. The security guard came up to them and said: “If abortion is such an evil, why is your Cardinal honouring that Kennedy guy?” The pro-lifers were speechless. What could they reply? The Cardinal had indeed undermined their witness. An army divided will never win.
    Sorry for the long post… :-(
  3. Steve G says:
    Correction: the talk at the Newman Centre was in front of older folks, not young students. My bad.
  4. Wow, I’d never heard about him calling the police over a Newman Centre protest. Eep…
    I think that’s an outstanding quote from Archbishop Burke, but I think there’s a bit more to it when it comes to the pro-life movement. Unity in the Church founded on speaking the truth with love? Absolutely. But insofar as the pro-life movement is political, politics is the art of the possible. We can, and must, find support and agreement without that kind of unity.
    For example, the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians likely won’t agree with the Church on a couple things, but if PLAGAL and Catholics within the pro-life movement can agree that elective abortion is unacceptable because it intentionally kills a human person, then we have a basis of moving forward together on that one issue.
    Now, when someone is pro-life, except in the case of rape, that’s an central disagreement — it’s an inconsistency that calls into question the core pro-life argument. That disagreement is a barrier to any progress fighting abortion. But if the disagreement is over whether or not a pro-abortion politician should have a Catholic funeral? Well, that’s something that even some Canon lawyers — who despised his politics — argued strongly for. (Whether he had a right to a Catholic funeral is also a distinct question from whether he should have been honoured at the funeral, versus humbly praying for the repose of his soul, etc.)
    I don’t usually shy away from controversy, but in this case, I think the issue is a bit too complex (and complex in a Catholic political and canon law sense) to tackle head on in my shoes as a UTSFL exec member. I feel like denouncing one side of the debate would do more harm than good, because it’s reached such silly proportions on both sides, and the disagreements are over tactics and canon law, etc, as opposed to fundamental disagreements at the heart of the pro-life argument.
    In response to the “why is your Cardinal honouring that Kennedy guy?” question, I’d have responded that a Catholic Mass of the Resurrection isn’t an “honour,” but a prayer for the mercy and the repose of one’s soul.
    I don’t know, it is a tough question and I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. I guess I’m a little conflicted about it, and I feel it’s largely a Church controversy (outside the formal scope of our club).
    Thanks for your comments though, very important conversation to have.
  5. Steve G says:
    You’ve made some great points. Obviously there’s a difference between an ecumenical pro-life club and a Catholic group. I definitely hear you.
    Thanks for the link from the Canon lawyer. Certainly, Kennedy could have been given a private funeral, but not a public one. That’s the position of even the most outspoken critics of the Kennedy affair, like John Pacheco at Socon Or Bust. You’re absolutely right that a funeral is not meant to honour anybody, but that’s how the Kennedy affair turned out: Placido Domingo, Yo-Yo Ma, three eulogies (which are forbidden at Catholic funerals precisely because we’re there to pray for the soul’s salvation, not canonize the deceased person), etc. A private funeral would have avoided lots of trouble.
    I sure hope Kennedy repented of his sins. But remember that public sins require a public repentance, otherwise scandal occurs (as we have witnessed). Since no public repentance occurred, I stand by my position.
    Keep up the good work. Your confreres at McGill could probably use some moral support after what happened down there!
1 Pings/Trackbacks for "Ted Kennedy, Salt + Light, Fr. Rosica, Politics and the Pro-Life Movement"
  1. […] 9, 2009 Blaise Alleyne Leave a comment Go to comments In reaction to John Bentley May’s article in the Catholic register about the Salt and Light Television / controversy within […]


1 comment:

Unknown said...

I listened to most of the interview; one of the most annoying parts is his extremely condescending opinion of Joseph Ratzinger. Fr. Rosica tries to make it look like this guy has some sort of respect for the Pope. Doesn't do a very good job if it.

I get the feeling that somewhere, somehow, Fr. Rosica actually knows better. To me it felt like (in a weaselish way) he was trying to show some sort of consistency between the teaching of the Church and this "theologian." But he always presents it as a question, and never gives the obvious rebuttals. For example, he mentions his "positive orthodoxy." When Baum gives his ridiculous answer, Fr. Rosica simply goes on to refer a "false orthodoxy" which is re-surging today. As I said, there seems to be hints that he really does know better, but is for some reason terribly concerned with the appearance of agreeing with a heretic.

Why would Fr. Rosica humour this nonsense?