I deeply regret that Father Tom Rosica sent a legal letter to Toronto blogger David Domet, who blogs at Vox Cantoris, threatening a lawsuit. I hope he does not follow through and I hope he lets David Domet know he is not going to follow through.
This is not to say that I think David Domet is the most temperate of bloggers. I think he himself would admit he can be a hothead. Sometimes his posts are over-the-top. He needs to work on toning it down and putting himself in the shoes of those he criticizes before he presses “publish.”
As anyone familiar with social media could expect, there has been a huge negative reaction to the lawsuit threat and against Father Rosica in some of the Catholic blogosphere.
Even though my personal leanings are conservative, orthodox, with great love of traditional liturgy and of Pope Benedict’s Reform of the Reform, I’m saddened by what I am seeing in some blog posts and in comments sections that are calling him a “wolf,” a “heretic,” a “modernist,” and any number of other things.
No, I am not saying that some of his tweets or speeches or comments are not fair game for criticism and for debate, maybe even some good-natured satire here or there or fraternal correction even. Let us disagree even vehemently without becoming divisive, partisan or spiteful; let us defend the faith without assuming we have special insight into the heart of the individual with whom we disagree or hope to correct. Most people out there attacking him do not even know him, except for his public persona.
I am seeing Fr. Rosica made into a caricature, so that only his alleged faults are magnified. How would anyone of us like that done to us? We all have flaws, would you like them trumpeted all over social media so that your good points are totally ignored?
We often become inflamed about the faults in others that we ourselves share but may be unconscious us. Have any of those people harping about the faults of Fr. Rosica thought about whether what they resent so much is not part of their own make up? Perhaps you think Fr. Rosica is ideological and partisan. Ask yourself, are you that way too? I speak for myself that I constantly have to check my own tendency to partisanship, to getting in there with my sharp elbows and I do not think my behavior when I do that contributes to the good of the Church. I pray to be an agent of reconciliation and unity, not division.
If those of us who favor traditional liturgy,and claim to hold the Catholic faith in its entirety behave with an absence of the fruits of the Spirit, what kind of message are we sending when we lapse into anger, spite and frustration? Most people I know who love traditional liturgy and care deeply about holding the Catholic faith are deeply faithful, loving people. They are not like what comes across in some blogs comments sections. Dear Fellow Bloggers, please realize that you are responsible not only for what you write, but also what your commentators write. Please moderate your comments, or, as Father Z did, close them on controversial subjects like this. And as Catholics we have a responsibility to be charitable. Note I said charitable, not “nice.”
Father Rosica and I have had our differences from time to time, but when I started out writing for Catholic papers, probably no one else was more generous in opening doors for me, providing advice, creating opportunities for me and encouraging me. So, I remember his big-hearted generosity, his passion for the Church and his many gifts as a communicator. This is a side of Father Rosica that I have experienced as have the many young people whom he has mentored. He is a gifted communicator and there are good reasons he was chosen under Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy to act as an English language spokesman for the Holy See.
I hope he will not pursue further legal action, because I think he is wrong to do so. He will experience a backlash that will make the reaction over the last several days look like a warm shower and I do not wish that on him any more than I wish David Domet to be buried under a law suit.
I am against SLAPP ( Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) on principle. I am praying for David Domet and Father Rosica for forgiveness and reconciliation to prevail, and unity in Christ that only the Holy Spirit can bring. Canada’s libel and defamation law needs to be changed, but we do need a law to protect people against vicious, malicious and concerted attacks on peoples’ characters like that in a story I read recently about a woman who was so angry she was outbid on her dream house that she put terrible lies on social media about the couple who did buy the house. I fail to see how Vox Cantoris’ criticisms rise to this standard of calumny and vicious attack. Yet, as the Fr. Gravel lawsuit against LifeSiteNews.com that cost them something like $250,000 before it even went to trial proves the process is the punishment. There’s a reason why these kinds of suits are called “lawfare.”
I think Father Rosica would have been so much better off if he had just stopped reading the negative comments about him on Vox Cantoris, which was a very small blog in terms of readership. By making the legal threat, news has spread to blogs with huge readerships. All the things the priest had his lawyer charge were damaging to his character are now being “shouted from the rooftops.”
It saddens me to see Salt and Light TV called names and derided. By all means, if you see things that fall short, speak up, but I know the people who work there who are young, faithful Catholics on a journey of ever deeper conversion like the rest of us. If you don’t think they are well enough formed in their faith, can you point it out in gentleness and respect, or better yet pray for them?
Demonizing people, magnifying their flaws into a caricature is not the way to win hearts to conversion and growth in Christ or to attract people to a more robust Catholicism. Of course not all bloggers and commentators are doing so, but even a small number contribute to giving us all a bad name as bitter and angry hardliners.
I do not want to minimize the anguish that David Domet has been going through with the threat of a lawsuit that could destroy him financially, to say nothing of the terrible stress of a protracted legal battle.
This fight could end up in the ruination of both men. I hope and pray this does not escalate further. Please join me in that prayer.
Yes, last fall’s synod was an extremely stressful event in the life of the Church and there is rampant confusion and division afoot. Father Rosica has become a lightning rod.
But remember we war not against flesh and blood and the weapons of our warfare are spiritual not carnal. As a friend of mine always says, “Let peace be your umpire.”
Perhaps Father Rosica wanted to teach David Domet a lesson with a legal threat. Now the blogosphere is teaching him a lesson.
Let’s be careful as Catholic bloggers. I’m reminded of various social media campaigns like the one that forced the Mozilla/Firefox president to resign because it was discovered he had donated to a campaign to save traditional marriage or campaigns that forced the president of Harvard to resign because he said women were not statistically as likely to be brilliant in math. (Which was true, but the feminists did not like it).
What’s the goal of these types of mob media campaigns? Crushing people into the dust, humiliating them until they are forced to do what the mob wants? That’s what the totalitarian “progressive” left does. Do we want to become like what we hate?
Yesterday morning’s readings at Mattins included the Gospel about how the Good Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to seek out the one that is lost.
Oh, had Father Rosica had that attitude towards a blogger who seems angry from time to time, and is perhaps wounded and feeling marginalized in his own church.
Oh that we bloggers have that attitude toward Father Rosica, who may also feel wounded and threatened by the criticism for reasons we do not understand. This is a flesh and blood man we are talking about here, a fellow human being, every bit as real as David Domet. Let’s remember that.
This is my dream, that there will be reconciliation and public apologies from both sides, not because anyone has been forced by external pressure and humiliated into doing so, but because the Holy Spirit has convicted hearts, brought those sweet tears of repentance that come from seeing one’s sinfulness at the same time as experiencing the overwhelming love of God in Jesus Christ. I am not saying David Domet was wrong to criticize certain statements or tweets—but sometimes his word choices are imprecise and inflammatory.
I’d like to see both men free in Christ, aflame with divine love, exercising their supernatural gifts where God has placed them and reconciled with each other as brothers in Christ. Would there be any need for punishment for anyone then?
Praying for a miracle.