Monday 12 November 2012

Rosica and Baum: Salt and Light TV is in Crisis

“Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another" St. Paul

A crisis has many nuances of definition, but the nexus is that a turning point has been struck upon which requires resolution. I write this entry after much thought. It is not an easy thing to criticize a priest. Further, it is a difficult thing to do after seeing so much good done by this same priest. However, the recent Salt and Light "Witness" television interview conducted by S + L CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica with the arch-dissenter Gregory Baum strikes a most serious note of crisis at S + L, and S + L's identity, reliability and need for absolute lack of ambiguity in the task of evangelization through communications media (c.f.  The Rapid Development, Pope John Paul II). I would call this interview the "Winnipeg Statement moment" for S + L. 

The confusion, the ambiguity this interview has created must be resolved. It is only heightened by the various excellent  programming on S + L.  Monsignor Vincent Foy closed his
critique of Baum by asking the key question: why should a priest highly praise in an interview this "arch heretic"? This is the question, the only question.  

Fr. Rosica's response to the criticism of his interview with Baum presently focuses irrelevantly on a  Michael Voris video rather than Msgr. Foy's question.  Fr. Rosica defended his approach to Baum by writing: "Let those who have eyes and ears to see and hear view the entire interview and not base judgments on others’ interpretation and distortion of my WITNESS interview with Professor Baum". Fine, I agree. Fr. Rosica addressing Baum in the interview said: "you helped to keep alive not only the spirit of the Second Vatican council, but also the authentic teaching of the Council". If this is so, then has the traditionalist critique of the Council been right all along? No interpretation or distortion here.  It is this defense that is even more worrying, more disconcerting than the interview. The defense of error reveals even greater confusion, greater recalcitrance than the error itself. 

This leads me to consider the future prospects for S + L following this scandal. The issue is the Catholic Faith, not celebrity priests who come and go. Catholic media is to propagate the Faith, to aid in evangelization. How must the young, fine employees and volunteers at S + L feel when the CEO lavishes praise without any distinction on Baum? What of the Board of Directors, the bishops, and the corporate and charitable donors? How can S + L evangelize with her CEO highly praising an arch-heretic? It is one thing to love a person, but it is another to create the impression that one loves his or her teachings without any clarity on the given person's teachings that have been identified as manifestly evil (e.g. dissent on contraception, abortion, women priests, Baum's dissent against Dominus Jesus etc.). Our Lord loved sinners, but he hated their sin. Perhaps, in the presence of his old friend, Fr. Rosica was caught in human weakness. Yet, his defense of the interview (sadly) would seem to reject this hypothesis. 

The contradictions, the ambiguity, the confusion must be resolved. It is only heightened by Fr. Rosica's professed love for Pius XII, Bl John XXIII, and Bl. John Paul II. Would those holy Popes consider Baum a man who has kept alive "the authentic teaching of the Council"? Why would a priest claim that Baum has, when it is manifestly obvious that he has not?
 Salt and Light is tainted: with ambiguity, with contradiction, with confusion. It is time for Fr. Rosica to do the right thing: to apologize and to resign from Salt and Light.  

Further suggested reading:

Tragedy at Winnipeg, Msgr. Vincent Foy

The Desolate City, Anne Roche Muggeridge

The Second Vatican Council was about renewal, not betrayal (Pope Paul, Angelus Address, 1968)


Freyr said...

Gregory Baum was excommunicated, not for any doctrinal position he took, but for attempting marriage with an ex nun. Even Hans Kung is still a priest in good standing although not permitted to teach Catholic theology. Would you really expect someone like Archbishop Pocock to do any more with Baum? This entire issue needs to be looked at from a different perspective. The last time the church tried a heavy handed approach was during the modernist crisis and we all know how well that has turned out. In our own time, the only one I am aware of who has used excommunication to any extent was Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska. Gregory Baum is irrelevant and Father Rosica is symptomatic. The real question is how to effectively handle open dissent in the Church.

Barona said...

Msgr. Foy told me personally a number of years ago that the Church has a Law, but it is not applied. I reference him in an earlier blog that "Authority" is one of the tools used...

I have also been re-reading Anne Roch Muggeridge's book (the Desolate City) and she documents the sad history of dissent vis-a-vis Humanae vitae. Interesting is the US Cardinal Archbishop of Washington's loosing struggle with Curran at Catholic University. Ditto in Canada with the pernicious influence of Baum upon Pocock, before Pocock renounced Baum... the post conciliar period has not been a very happy one for bishops. With all the talk of the Council being a "bishops" council to balance the "papal" council of Vatican I, we see the paradox that bishops have actually lost power - to the administrative machinery, to the conferences, to dissident theologians propped up by the secular media etc., etc.

I'm not sure that "Baumism" is irrelevant, in that (though the man is) his ideas live on. The bishops have never really in an open and catechetical manner corrected the evils of the Winnipeg Statement. It was John Paul II who said that the biggest obstacle (he was addressing US bishops) to evangelization was weak preaching and catechesis. This must be done from the pulpit, pastoral letters, parish based catechesis. There has been a catechetical awakening over the past few years. I think this is part of the reaction to the Baum interview.

But you raise a great "teaching moment" to quote a phrase from Fr. Rosica himself. Yes, can this unfortunate incident be used to see how can we deal with dissent? Well, I think that open, charitable, attacking the point and not the person approach can help in dealing with dissent. These certainly are the first steps.

Freyr said...

The more I look at this, the more I think that catechetics and good preaching is key. This is a teaching moment and the bishop would be well advised to take advantage of it. In the New Testament St. Paul always emphasized teaching as the prime means of defense against the false teachers of his day. He realized that even in those situations where removing someone from the community was necessary, that they would never really go away, remaining an ever present danger. The subsequent conflicts in the church over doctrine are testament to the necessity of correct teaching as the only remedy.