Dr. Peters about Michael Voris, RealCatholic TV and the Archd. of Detroit

Before going on… I wonder what this scenario means for the National catholic Reporter.

___

The Canonical Defender, Dr. Ed Peters doesn’t have a combox at his excellent canon law blog, In The Light of the Law.  Background here and here.

Dr. Peters has chimed in with observations about the situation brewing between Michael Voris of RealCatholic TV (key word “Catholic”) and the Archdiocese of Detroit.

My emphases and comments.

The first thing to understand about the AOD vs. Voris/RCTV dispute
January 3, 2012

The first thing to understand about the dispute between the Archdiocese of Detroit and Michael Voris and/or RealCatholicTV is that the dispute turns essentially on canon law. As a canonical dispute, it will not be decided by seeing who musters more or louder supporters in the blogosphere; it will be decided by recognizing what Church law says about such matters and then abiding by that finding.

With this being firmly understood, however, we may still use the dispute to set out some aspects of Church discipline for those wishing to understand such things better. I comment here not as an advisor to the AOD, but as an established observer on public canonical issues, and I reiterate what is noted to the right of every ILOTL post, namely, that this blog represents my opinions only. [Noted.]

Canon 216 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law contains two sentences, the first of which is not at issue: “Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition.” As far as this part of c. 216 is concerned, Voris/RCTV may disseminate whatever they want, whenever they wish, about whatever they please. Whether Voris/RCTV speak correctly or mistakenly on a given matter, or whether they show appropriate prudence and charity in expressing their positions, is their responsibility. Catholics are free to reach differing opinions about those questions.

But sentence two of Canon 216 is another matter: “Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name ‘Catholic’ without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.” The plain text of this canon 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). Voris/RCTV expressly (indeed, pervasively) use the word “Catholic” to name their undertakings. They repeatedly proclaim that theirs is “Real Catholic TV”, that theirs is a “Catholic Investigative Agency”, and that theirs is “The Catholic Critic”.

The Archdiocese of Detroit demurs, whence the dispute.

Let me suggest an analogy.

Say that I’m a pretty smart lawyer, that my legal advice is usually right, that it secures for folks a better situation than they had before, and that it saves them lots of time and tons of money. All of this would mean zilch if, along the way, I held myself out to be licensed for the practice of law in some state where I was not authorized to practice. The state would not have to prove that I don’t have a law degree (in fact I do) or that my advice was unsound (it might be sound or not, depending on the issue) or that I am profiting by my work (perhaps I don’t). The state would simply have to show that I am claiming to be something I am not, namely, someone authorized to act as an attorney. I would be lucky if I got-off with just a Cease-and-Desist order.

Similarly, the AOD does not have to prove that Voris does not have a degree in theology (in fact he does), and/or that Real Catholic TV, and/or the Catholic Investigative Agency, and/or The Catholic Critic, etc., is wrong about something they said (frankly, much of what they say is sound), and so on; instead, the AOD simply has to show that one or more Voris/RCTV undertakings claim the title “Catholic” without having secured canonical authorization to make that claim.

Some people apparently don’t like how Canon 216 reads; they are free (per c. 212 § 3 no less) to make their complaints to the competent ecclesiastical authority (postage for first class letters to Rome starts at 98 cents). [ROFL!] I can even think of some arguments they might offer (just as I can think of some counter-arguments they would need to anticipate) but, in the meantime, Canon 216 means what it plainly says: as long as Voris/RCTV claim for their undertakings the title “Catholic”, Canon 216 is applicable; but drop appropriation of the name “Catholic” for these undertakings, and Canon 216 has nothing more to say.

Surveying the blogosphere, I see a number of secondary or tangential issues (some reasonable, and some ridiculous) being raised in this matter. Most of these, however, seem resolvable by looking at what Canon 216 actually says—and doesn’t say. Perhaps I will address these issues in another post.

For now, I simply encourage Catholics to do here what I have encouraged them to do in many other contexts: pay attention to what canon law actually says when what is at issue is the operation of canon law.

My question to Dr. Peters would be this.

Can 212 § 2 says: “Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name ‘Catholic’ without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.”

His lectis, quaeritur: Who is the competent authority from whom consent should be/ought to have been sought?

UPDATE: 5 Jan 18:54 GMT:

Rorate has a comment.

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71 Responses to Dr. Peters about Michael Voris, RealCatholic TV and the Archd. of Detroit

  1. catholic luke says:

    Does Canon 216 mean that if I created a blog I would need permission from the Bishpp in order to call it a Catholic blog

  2. Ana says:

    Not trying to nitpick here, but at one time my blog was called, “Southern Catholic Convert,” would that need approval from the bishop? This wasn’t calling the blog “Catholic” per se, but it was referring to my journey as a convert to the Catholic Church. This wording seems to leave a lot of openings.

  3. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    Canonical authorization for the National Catholic Reporter comes from?

    John

  4. vox borealis says:

    Catholic Luke,

    I believe in theory yes. I wonder if Canon Law will have to be updated in response to the rapidly changing media landscape. Clearly Canon 216 was produced in a world that envisioned a traditional organization—maybe a local Catholic Business Association, or whatever—who of course went to the bishop first to ask permission before instituting themselves. The Canon did not concern itself with individuals making various claims at dinner parties or street corners (“well, I’m Catholic, and I think…”).

    But today, individuals can reach a much wider audience on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, youtube, etc., presenting themselves as a legitimate voice of Catholic authority. Canon 216 doesn’t really account for this situation, especially because it is not always clear who the relevant ecclesial authority is. On the other side of the coin, Canon 216 is easily cicumvented by simply changing the name of the organinzation. So, Catholics for Choice or Real Catholic TV can avoid the bishop altogether if they change their names to Papists for Choice or Real RomCat TV? That seems wholly inadequate as a safeguard against potential misleading uses of the name Catholic.

  5. vox borealis says:

    The issue with the Voris-AoD dust up is of course not really whether Real Catholic Tv is in violation of Canon 216. They probably are, though perhaps not by some canonical technicality. That’s not the story.

    What is the story is why the AoD decided to invoke The Canon against Real Catolic TV, and right before Christmas no less. My guess is that something specific triggered the Diocese to respond (i.e., it was probably not because of a general concern over or longterm hostility toward RCTV, but rather Voris did something specific or a some or other individual was personally aggrived and contacted the diocese…that’s my bet).

    I’m most interested now in seeing how this plays out. If I were Voris, I would simply change the name of all of the programs by eliminating the word Catholic.

  6. JohnE says:

    Fair enough. The bigger issue to me is why go after RCTV which at the very least tries to be faithful to Catholic teaching, while the National Catholic Reporter openly mocks Church teaching and encourages dissent?! Perhaps because there is greater chance that RCTV will change their name but the NCR would relish in their disobedience?

  7. ray from mn says:

    Coincidentally, I happen to have a Catholic blog, with Catholic in its name, and have never asked for permission from my bishop to use it.

    If you went to http://www.catholicblogs.com, you will find hundreds of blogs that consider themselves Catholic Blogs. Not all use the word “Catholic” in their name.

    If my bishop should want me to apply for permission to use a name I have used for about six years, I would probably ask him to show me a list of all the other organizations in the diocese who have received permission to use the word Catholic.

    A legal question: Is a procedural requirement that has never been enforced in 28 years (sentence 2 of Canon 216) still in force?

    Granted that the creation of the Internet, granting the ability to everyone to be their own printer and publisher has greatly changed the environment in which Canon 216 was written.

  8. vox borealis says:

    Pomeroy,

    The relevant authority is the bishop of Kansas City.

    Everybody brings up the NCR, but the fact is that it WAS reprimanded in 1968, ut has simy refused to comply. From wikipedia:

    In 1968, NCR’s ordinary, Bishop Charles Herman Helmsing “issue[d] a public reprimand for their policy of crusading against the Church’s teachings,” condemning its “poisonous character” and “disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith.” Helmsing warned that NCR’s writers were likely guilty of heresy, had likely incurred latae sententiae excommunications, and because the publication “does not reflect the teaching of the Church, but on the contrary, has openly and deliberately opposed this teaching,” he “ask[ed] the editors in all honesty to drop the term ‘Catholic’ from their masthead,” because “[b]y retaining it they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by being responsible for the false irenicism of watering down Catholic teachings.”

    NCR refused to comply, and 66 Catholic journalists signed a statement disagreeing with the condemnation based on its “underlying definition of the legitimate boundaries of religious journalism in service to the church.” The Catholic Press Association reported that the dispute arose from a difference of opinion regarding the function of the press.”

  9. vox borealis says:

    Ray,

    If my bishop should want me to apply for permission to use a name I have used for about six years, I would probably ask him to show me a list of all the other organizations in the diocese who have received permission to use the word Catholic.

    and if he refused your request, would you comply with his clear Canonical authority in the matter?

  10. Jerry says:

    Ray from MN – two (or 10, or 10,000) wrongs don’t make a right.

    You ask, “Is a procedural requirement that has never been enforced in 28 years (sentence 2 of Canon 216) still in force? ”

    Do you have any evidence this provision has never been enforced? Not even once?

    In any event, canons are in effect until they are abrogated — regardless of how frequently they are violated without enforcement.

  11. jflare says:

    I think Dr Peters a great canonist and I think he’s doing his usual great job. In most cases, I would encourage a purportedly Catholic organization to be obedient.
    HOWEVER…!
    In this case, I think we should encourage Mr. Voris to be only as “rebellious” as he must to fight the Detroit Archiocese on this matter. Ironically, I say thus PRECISELY because I’m sick of the rampant disobedience in various “Catholic” organizations.

    I think before I insist on seeing RealCatholic TV change anything, I’d like to see the other bishops exercise their proper authority within the Church to clean house.

    Other bishops need to force Catholics for Choice, National Catholic Reporter, and numerous other “Catholic” organizations to change their names–or their tunes–before I’ll take this charge seriously.

  12. Jerry says:

    RCTV – Resources for Catholics on internet TeleVision

    N.B. This title does not claim the organization is Catholic, only that it provides material for Catholics.

  13. tcreek says:

    It would be interesting to have a list of all the canon law decrees that are ignored by bishops and/or their staffs.

  14. Jerry says:

    “Other bishops need to force Catholics for Choice, National Catholic Reporter, and numerous other “Catholic” organizations to change their names–or their tunes–before I’ll take this charge seriously.”

    While I agree that there is a LOT of housekeeping that needs to be done, two wrongs…

    If, in fact the Archdiocese of Detroit is the competent ecclesiastical authority in this matter, RCTV should act immediately to comply with the directive – then (1) pray, and (2) attempt to resolve the issue. It doesn’t matter whether the directive is fair, or whether there are worse offenders. Any more than it matters whether the charges against Fr. Corapi or Fr. Pavone have any merit. Did Padre Pio throw a temper tantrum when he was given unjust orders?

    If those associated with RCTV refuse to obey, then the name is no longer a badge of honor, but one of condemnation – since they will no longer be “real” Catholics.

  15. Joshua08 says:

    The competent authority would be, presumably, the bishop of the place from whence the broadcast is made. That is how it is dealt with in another canonical context

    The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the prescriptions of canon 772§2, hereby decrees that, with due regard for the norms of canon 763, a Catholic who regularly expounds Christian doctrine on radio or television must be specially qualified by his or her knowledge of the subject, by manifest adherence to the teaching of the Magisterium and by the witness of his or her life as a Catholic. The individual must obtain the permission of his or her proper diocesan bishop or the diocesan bishop of the place where the radio or television program is originally broadcast. In the case of members of institutes of consecrated life or societies of apostolic life, permission of the competent superior is also required, insofar as the constitution of the institute or society provides for it.

    Oops…there is another, must obtain permission first laws that is hit here. Voris probably didn’t know of this to be fair.

    As far as an individual, rather than an organization/business/etc is concerned, and in media like fora the name Catholic can, presumably, be presumed. No one is arguing that an individual needs permission for a blog that is clearly an individual thing. But the expounding of Catholic doctrine on radio and television (they tool call it “Real Catholic TV” after all) does expressly require such permission anyways

  16. Tom Ryan says:

    Who is the competent ecclesiastical authority here? While Mr. Voris apparently live in Detroit, it’s been reported that RCTV operates out of South Bend which is led by Bishop Rhodes who has done the same with other apostolates during his time in PA.

    Just as in the dust up between Mother Angelica and Cardinal Mahoney, I expect to see some wagon circling here in the latest installment of Diocesan Two Step: http://anglocath.blogspot.com/2011/12/lets-all-play-diocesan-two-step.html

  17. Random Friar says:

    My question is this: could one ask the canonical court to judge whether an organization could still claim the title “Catholic?” My guess is, even if possible, if would not happen, as the can of worms it may open would be Costo-sized.

  18. The analogy is helpful in navigating the “which state” argument.

  19. The problem I see is that Real Catholic TV isn’t based in AOD.

  20. Federico says:

    As far as this part of c. 216 is concerned, Voris/RCTV may disseminate whatever they want, whenever they wish, about whatever they please. Whether Voris/RCTV speak correctly or mistakenly on a given matter, or whether they show appropriate prudence and charity in expressing their positions, is their responsibility. Catholics are free to reach differing opinions about those questions.

    Sort of.

    I agree with Dr. Peters that c. 216 appears to give Voris or any member of the faithful wide latitude, but I would submit that c. 823 §1 provides for much more oversight. For although c. 823 specifically speaks of books, there is good canonical opinion that any means of social communication would come under its purview. In fact, I think there was a recent doctoral dissertation from CUA’s school of canon law that addressed this very fact and came to this very conclusion.

    This creates some logistic issues — what with the internet being so transparent and ubiquitous. But, were I to blog (or comment, or discuss, or otherwise use the means of social communications) on matters that touch on faith and morals, I would submit my material a few days in advance to my chancery office. Chances are they’d not even bother reading them, but dura lex sed lex. If, by some unlikely chance, I got a response I didn’t like, I could always bring a recourse to higher authority. The law should be followed by all and others’ disobedience is no good excuse.

  21. The problem I see is that Real Catholic TV isn’t based in AOD

    But, I think this is a point Peters was addressing in his analogy. He’s stripping away everything that is not relevant to the second sentence of canon 216. He writes in his analogy:

    Say that I’m a pretty smart lawyer, that my legal advice is usually right, that it secures for folks a better situation than they had before, and that it saves them lots of time and tons of money. All of this would mean zilch if, along the way, I held myself out to be licensed for the practice of law in some state where I was not authorized to practice. The state would not have to prove that I don’t have a law degree (in fact I do) or that my advice was unsound (it might be sound or not, depending on the issue) or that I am profiting by my work (perhaps I don’t). The state would simply have to show that I am claiming to be something I am not, namely, someone authorized to act as an attorney. I would be lucky if I got-off with just a Cease-and-Desist order.

  22. Transferring that analogy to what has been argued about RCTV and Detroit vs. South Bend, it’s much like the “license” was obtained in South Bend, but RCTV is “practicing” in Detroit.

    I think when you bring into the canonical part of it what some other diocese has done or failed to do with a wayward apostolate, it conflates the issues.

  23. Joshua08 says:

    For the record, the South Bend thing is a red herring. For one Voris is personally subject to Detroit. Two, he broadcasts from Detroit…and drum rool even if it mattered where the “business” was licensed, um guys, no offense to Voris fans but he is pulling a fast

    Concept Communication, L.L.C is registered in Michigan under Michael Voris as owner. In 2010 it filed for and receive the name “Real Catholic TV” as an assumed name. The name Concept Communication has since expired

    http://www.dleg.state.mi.us/bcs_corp/image.asp?FILE_TYPE=ELF&FILE_NAME=D201007\2010210\E0114036.TIF and

    http://www.dleg.state.mi.us/bcs_corp/dt_llc.asp?id_nbr=B13368&name_entity=REAL%20CATHOLIC%20TV

    So even if it mattered (it does not), it still has root in Michigan.

  24. Although I am by far not an expert on this particular, I think the phrase “no undertaking is to claim the name ‘Catholic’ without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority” could be interpreted in a number of ways, especially given the practice of the Church around the world. Does claiming the name “Catholic” actually mean that a blog entitled “A Catholic Parent Struggles Against Bad Influences” requires the permission of the bishop? Or does it mean claiming in the name “Catholic” in an official capacity, such as “The Catholic Guide for Parents Struggling Against Bad Influences”. I think an ordinary person can tell the first one is just one person’s views on the world, while the second one could imply “official” endorsement. Looking at the blogosphere today, and you will find many popular blogs using the word “Catholic” in the title, and I doubt any of them have the consent of any ecclesial authority, let alone the proper one! Frankly, I don’t think any blog should get “official” approval (except for “official” blogs), because it implies the Church approves of all the postings on the blog. Yet are they really claiming the “name” Catholic? I think the phrase may imply something more, such as using the word Catholic in such a way as could be construed as having an official capacity. There is a difference between “The Catholic Lawyers Guild”, and the St. “Thomas More Society to Promote Fellowship among Catholic Lawyers”.

    When it comes to Voris (whose Youtube rants lack in charity, and are often just wrong), I think no reasonable person would assume a series entitled RealCatholicTV has official sanction; quite the contrary, the name implies that the official stuff is squishy and you need to listen to Voris to get the “inside story”.

    But when we go to practice, the fact is, the Church does not usually invoke this canon unless there seems to be some kind of misrepresentation, such as a food bank calling itself “The Catholic Food Bank” when it is run by Catholics. Otherwise, people call things Catholic all the time without being sanctioned, so I think some clarification is in order.

    But everyone needs to keep in mind the Catholic Church does not have a civil trademark on the word Catholic, and cannot force anyone to not use the word. The National Catholic Reporter, Catholics for a Free Choice, et. al. have all been told they are not Catholic, but they cannot be forced to remove the word in their titles in a court of law.

  25. Supertradmum says:

    I had a blog for years and a finalist for Best Catholic Blog in 2008. Would I have been in trouble if I had won and used that award on my site? I used the term Catholic constantly. I worked in three different dioceses over the years I had the blog. Which Diocese would have had any authority over my blog?

    What about the colleges in my diocese and the one contiguous which have heretics teaching in the theology departments, spewing their own opinions instead of the teaching of the Catholic Church? What about the use of the term Catholic in retreat houses which push New Age heresies and are supported by dioceses and use the term Catholic? I can provide a list of those. There is no consistency in the application of the very clear Canon Laws and seems to me that the entire concept and process is open to abuse.

  26. Pingback: Michael Voris, RealCatholic TV, and canon law « The Deacon's Bench

  27. RichardT says:

    Federico (1:16 am) – I don’t think c. 823 §1 requires prior approval. It’s a post-publication judgement.

    Someone will no doubt correct me, but I think canon law used to require pre-publication approval of anything touching on faith or morals written by Catholic laity, but that was dropped some time ago.

    Currently (not counting the c216 requirements for the use of “Catholic”) it seems prior approval is only needed for writings by the laity if they are:
    – translations of the Bible (c825.1);
    – liturgical books (c826);
    – books of prayer (c826.3);
    – catechisms (c827.1);
    – decrees of ecclesiastical authorities (c828)

    It seems anything else can be published by the laity without prior permission, but:
    – the bishop can subsequently condemn it (c823.1), although he doesn’t seem to have the authority to demand a withdrawal of publication;
    – it cannot be used in schools (c827.2) or sold in churches (827.4) unless it has episcopal approval, but that approval can be granted before or after publication.

    Additional restrictions can be placed on the clergy, but it seems not on the laity.

  28. jflare says:

    A few key points come to my mind in this matter:
    1. Canon law DOES have distinctive influence in terms of morals, but it’s intended as a means of enabling priests and bishops to direct the Church according to normative standards. It’s not intended to be a bullwhip against a particular group of people when they say what another group doesn’t wish to hear.

    2. We’re moving into an election year in which two Catholics have offered their candidacy for the Republican nomination. Both claim relatively conservative ideals, which would be rather anathema to many supposed Catholic politicians of recent years. If that wasn’t bad enough, we’ve recently begun using a newer translation that many progressive influences detest. While we can’t know for sure why Detroit decided on this move now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the more progressive factions of the Church–and the nation–have begun having a major hissyfit. It stands to reason they’re looking for any remotely plausible excuse they can find to strike SOMEWHERE.

    3. While I don’t always agree with Mr. Voris on every detail of his presentations, I have yet to find any distinctive fault with his views. He’s quite pointed, sometimes even rough. ..Unfortunately for his detractors, he’s also far more correct than not. I can’t imagine the progressive factions of the Church enjoy having him about.

    4. If two–or 40, or 400–wrongs don’t make a right, neither does failure to enforce a canon law for 40 years make failing to abide by it any more virtuous now than before. If the bishops wish to see the name “Catholic” used in a manner better worthy of a genuine cultural identity, they’ll need to discern appropriate means to exercise their authority with numerous Catholic publications and schools, explain this intent to the faithful, and make appropriate efforts to enforce the law more strictly all over the country. If not, I must wonder why they wish to alter Mr. Voris’ efforts. He’s a refreshing change from the usual mind-tricks proposed by many others.

    6. I agree that the distinction regarding South Bend vs Detroit might be something of a red herring, but not so much as a means of ducking authority. It comes across to me as Messr’s Brammer and Voris making an effort to allow Detroit to ease off without inflicting greater public scandal, while also allowing RealCatholic TV to continue with its efforts.

    6. If many detest Mr. Voris’ efforts, I might point out that many others do NOT. If you don’t care so much for his pointed statements, I might suggest that I don’t care so much for most of the equivocal and wishy-washy statements I’ve heard from clergy and politicians for most of my life.
    I rarely admit to having an Irish/German heritage or caring about it, but I can’t help but wonder if some ethnic groups are more inclined toward, er, vigorously stubborn personalities, than others might be. In other words, I don’t mind Mr. Voris more..brusque..approach.
    If we collect more flies with honey than with vinegar, we also need to catch flies that’re willing to change their tune. I have seen little evidence thus far that any flies will change anything without a royal fight.

    7. Mr. Brammer and Mr. Voris can’t truthfully expect to solve any problems by “setting a good example” by changing the name in this case. While I can’t disagree with Dr. Peters regarding the dictates of canon law, I don’t agree that this matter truthfully comes down to discipline.
    As I hope I’ve made plain already, this strikes me as being politics, pure and simple.

    We can’t be equivocal lumps for 40 years, then insist that a determined group of proud Catholics change their name. Not when the bishops have all but ignored pretty much open scandal of dissenting views for this long.

    Mr. Voris and Mr. Brammer need to fight this one.
    ..And we need to support them in the fight!

  29. RichardT says:

    I wonder how c827.4 is applied to the NCR or the Tablet?

    “Books or other writings dealing with questions of religion or morals cannot be exhibited, sold, or distributed in churches or oratories unless they have been published with the permission of competent ecclesiastical authority or approved by it subsequently.”

  30. Glen M says:

    Did I miss something or is it certain this request comes from the Bishop and not some cranky monsignor in the Chancery Office?

    If more of our clergy taught authentic Catholicism the need for Real Catholic TV wouldn’t exist.

    If the AoD wants to play by the book then they need to enforce all laws and teachings.

    It would be interesting to see RCTV comply then challenge Bishop Finn and the non-NCR to do the same. If the non-NCR refuses (as one would expect) then excommunications could result.

  31. Jack Regan says:

    I don’t have the time to read all the comments so forgive me if I’m covering old ground, but Dr. Peter’s post doesn’t touch on the key issue in all of this, which is who the competent authority actually is.

    RCTV are claiming that they are actually Headquartered in Indiana. Pretty much everyone else is claiming either that they’re not really (RCTV as a company is registered in IL) or that, if they are operating in IL then that doesn’t matter anyway.

    That’s the $64m question in all of this.

  32. Jack, Diane, et al:

    I combed through Peters’ article to determine whether he dealt with the issue of jurisdiction. If he did, a little more plain speaking and a little less rambling would be in order. In all that I’ve read (including some comments here which attempt to shed light one way or the other), the aforementioned issue is yet to be determined. Until it is, I’m inclined to believe this is just a few chancery paper-hangers going rogue.

    Meanwhile, Voris may consider moving across state lines. That’ll show ‘em.

  33. I appreciate Dr. Peters’ perspective is The Law, and as such I appreciate the perspective from which he makes his argument. But lawyers can argue ad nauseum about legal minutiae while ignoring completely the clear justice of the matter – in fact that’s their job.

    The fact of the matter is that there are countless organizations – just think of the “catholic” universities – which use the name “catholic” and flaut Church teachings at every opportunity. To single out Mr. Voris seems at best to be capricious and petty – at worst to be vindictive and bitter. Made to seem all the more so by the fact that RCTV has done a brilliant job of promoting the faith and faithfulness to catholic teaching, in stark contrast to the dismal performance put forth by the “professional catholic” culture that seems to permeate so many corners of the the church.

    Not to stir the pot too much here, but the whole thing is reminiscent of the situation wherein the NeoCats – in SPITE of all of their well known heretical tendencies – are held up as models of the Catholic Faith but the SSPX gets treated like a contagion which must be isolated and contained.

  34. jacobi says:

    Sorry to be pedantic but he is not using the term “Catholic”, rather “RealCatholic” or “RealCatholicTV”. Quite different if you insist on sticking to the actual written letter of the canon law.

    The real issue is what do they have against Voris, a sound mainstream Catholic – if I may use the term without written permission?

  35. Jack Regan says:

    There is another perspective on this I’d like to offer. Hopefully not inflammatory…

    It’s important to remember that Mr. Voris was also slapped down by a Vatican department last year too, when the PCL decided to make public the fact that Voris’ presence at World Youth Day in Madrid was not officially sanctioned.

    This is important because I’m sure that many inside RCTV and elsewhere will try to claim that the current spat is just a local issue revolving around one diocese which is out of step with ‘real’ Catholicism.

    In my experience, a common tactic among people like Voris is to try to claim that it’s him and the Pope against everybody else. It’s amazing how many people fall out with their Bishop and claim that the Pope would probably come down on their side of the argument. Okay, in some cases, they’re probably right, but my point is that the higher up the ladder you go, the thinner the argument becomes. If you’re slapped down by a priest, then claiming that you are working against him to do the will of the Holy Father often works. Sometimes works with Bishops too. But when you get to Episcopal conferences, it’s getting very thin. And when you get to Vatican departments, well…

    Voris and RCTV in the last year have been formally chastised by at least two diocees and a Vatican Department. Sooner of later he’s gonna have to look at himself in all of this.

  36. Federico says:

    RichardT, I disagree.

    C. 823 reads:

    They also have the duty and right to demand that writings to be published by the Christian faithful which touch upon faith or morals be submitted to their judgment and have the duty and right to condemn writings which harm correct faith or good morals.

    The latin is gerund of edere, so the implication is that an opportunity for prior review must be given.

    Federico.

  37. jflare says:

    Jack,
    I don’t think your point necessary has the strength that you might believe.
    Yes, the Vatican made a comment about how Voris wasn’t officially sanctioned to be there. However, Voris, himself, explained that RealCatholic TV hadn’t actually considered doing anything in Madrid until after the official suspense (deadline) had passed. I have yet to see any genuine cause for being frantically worried about that. It may take months to organize the proceedings for a gigantic event; in this case, it makes sense to have deadlines well ahead of time. It may not take the same amount of time for a single organization to make arrangements to be in the vicinity. I saw nothing in the releases that suggested that the Vatican had particular problems with Voris from any meaningful angle–noone mentioned any spiritual, theological, or other legitimate concern.

    I’m glad you mentioned that though, because these two cases strike me as being oddly similar: Both have the distinct IMPLICATION of official authority, but neither appears to actually EXERCISE any authority of note.

    I looked at the statement from Detroit again; I notice that Archbishop Vigneron does not have his name affixed to the statement. Neither do any of his four auxiliaries. We see the letterhead for the Archdiocese, implying His Excellency wishes to state something. The only name actually GIVEN though, comes from the communications department.

    The same thing happened last year: The VATICAN issued a statement, but I don’t recall that any cardinal of importance made an official statement.

    In other words, I think there’s legit question about whether canon law actually, seriously applies in either case.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, the cardinals and the bishops know what’s going on and don’t disapprove, at least not enough to withhold the statements.
    On the other hand, neither are they prosecuting, so they don’t technically have to be accountable consistently.
    Kind of a trick, if you ask me. Someone who loathes a more traditional intent can imply official chastisement, thereby causing the “defendant” to be compelled to act, but since no charge has actually been leveled, there’s little ability to mount a competent defense.

    If you want to claim that people like Voris like to pull stunts that imply authority they don’t have, you might bear in mind that the opposing side has it’s favorite tricks too.
    They can be equally disingenuous.

  38. Christine111 says:

    “Voris and RCTV in the last year have been formally chastised by at least two diocees and a Vatican Department. Sooner of later he’s gonna have to look at himself in all of this.”

    Tosh. RCTV has never been “formally chastised” by any diocese or by a “Vatican department.” Mr. Voris is one of the very few outspoken Catholics who’ve spoken strongly against the sham that is the CCHD, and its continued patronage by the USCCB, which has ticked off not a few bishops. Gee–that wouldn’t have *anything* to do with the opposition he faces, would it? I suppose if you’re one of those modern, naïve Catholics who doesn’t think there’s a crisis in the Church, of course not.

    Instead of all this gossip from talking heads, let’s hear it straight from RCTV itself:

    On Scranton diocese: http://www.realcatholictv.com/premium/index.php?vidID=vort-2011-04-11

    On WYD: http://www.colleenhammond.com/catholics/voris-official-response-to-wyds-unapproval/

    As to the jurisdiction issue, I may be a lawyer, but I’m no canon lawyer, so I’ll refrain from commenting and let my canon law betters sort this out. I highly doubt, though, that Dr. Peters meant to address the jurisdiction issue in his analogy about the law license.

  39. Don’t canon lawyers always quote the LATIN text? I’m not a lawyer nor an expert in Latin, but does anyone want to take a shot at it?

    Can. 216 — Christifideles cuncti, quippe qui Ecclesiae missionem participent, ius habent ut propriis quoque inceptum, secundum suum quisque statum et condicionem, apostolicam actionem promoveant vel sustineant; nullum tamen inceptum nomen catholicum sibi vindicet, nisi consensus accesserit competentis auctoritatis ecclesiasticae.

  40. Joe in Canada says:

    The question of obedience to the Church is, it seems to me, independent of the following concerns: who else is being disobedient; whether the legitimate authorities who are demanding obedience are themselves obedient or consistent or fair; whether the Chancery is notorious for being selective or liberal; whether the thing being asked is reasonable; the ability to hide oneself behind a smokescreen of jurisdictions; the “real” agenda; the importance of the person being censured to the renewal of the Church. This presumes that I am not being told to do something objectively sinful.
    The questions of justice, prudence, and gospel boldness remain, but they can be dealt with quietly and in a way that preserves the tranquillity of the household of God. Who knows what graces can come from peaceful submission to those placed over us by God?

    ps I would think that the fact that your Bishop has not publicly stopped you from receiving Communion means you can call yourself Catholic
    The

  41. xzsdfweiuy says:

    Many, many good questions in the combox here that anticipate mine. To summarize:

    Fr Z, on the topic of Canon 212 we should ask Dr. Peters not only your
    q. “Who is the competent authority from whom consent should be/ought to have been sought?”
    but also:

    What is the definitive explanation of the phrase “claim the name ‘Catholic’”,
    and how does the Church decide when it has/hasn’t been “claimed”?

  42. Jack Regan says:

    To clarify my points above…

    My point about WYD was that there are lots and lots of people there doing unofficial Catechesis and the PCL almost never takes the trouble to let people know that they are not official. They just let them get on with it. But in Voris’ case, they wanted folks to know.

    I think that says something more than simply that he missed a deadline to file some paperwork.

    Generally, I’m not trying to be inflammatory here. RCTV and Voris do a lot right, but I do think they get a few things wrong too and I think that’s why some people seem to be set against them.

  43. Christine111 says:

    “My point about WYD was that there are lots and lots of people there doing unofficial Catechesis and the PCL almost never takes the trouble to let people know that they are not official. They just let them get on with it. But in Voris’ case, they wanted folks to know.

    I think that says something more than simply that he missed a deadline to file some paperwork.”

    It does indeed–but what, exactly? That Voris is wrong, or that he has enemies in the hierarchy?

    http://www.realcatholictv.com/response/
    Around 4:40 mark.

  44. Han says:

    I am not a canon lawyer (heck, I am not even a Catholic), but for those who have brought up questions about Catholic blogs (as opposed to RealCatholicTV), I think it is the first sentence of Canon 216, not the second, that is relevant.

    Is there a distinction between a “Catholic blog” and a blog by a Roman Catholic who happens to write about his or her own faith? Is a blog by a a Catholic necessarily an “apostolic action” simply because the author is Catholic. Does writing about religious topics, or more specifically Catholic topics, automatically transform a personal blog into an “apostolic action” such that Canon 216 would come into play. I am assuming of course that no prior approval is necessary for one to self-identify as “Catholic,” but I think that the difference between this RealCAtholicTV (or National Catholic Reporter) thing a Catholic blogs is that the former holds itself out to be some sort of apostolate whereas the latter do not necessarily do so. Furthermore, it seems to me that the danger of confusion is less with a blog than with something like RCTV because the very nature of blogs suggests to the reader that the content is personal opinion as opposed to some official teaching (after all is this not why so many of you are upset with the NCR–it is heresy masqurading as the voice of American Catholicism).

    From an outsider perspective, I find the whole focus on Canon Law curious and sad. It seems to me an example of how the Catholic Church fetishizes power. “Catholic” it seems, is devoid of any actual objective content, but rather is whatever the “competent ecclesiastical authority” says it is. Canon Law is merely the mechanism by which this obedience to authority is enforced. It seems to me that lost in the shuffle is any serious discussion about what Catholicism actually is (are there any constraints upon this “competent ecclesiastical authority” to determine what is “Catholic?” Can this authority deny the “Catholic” label to an apostolate that is objectively “Catholic?” Must the authority deny the label to one that is demonstrably not?) , leaving one to conclude that “Catholic” is nothing but the system, and that actual content is negotiable.

    The really sad part of this is that the existence of the second sentence of Canon 216 strongly implies that there is no actual “People of God” within the Catholic Church–there is only the “competent ecclesiastical authorities” which make up the Church, and who have monoply rights over the term “Catholic” and there is everyone else–the Church’s clients. These people may, it seems, self-identify as “Catholics” (like a man who buys and wears a Nike ballcap), but they have no standing to pronounce on matters of faith, nor may they undertake any apostolate to spead the same without prior deputization from the real Church. The “right” to “promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition” is therefore entirely illusory because any meaningful expression of this “right” must include the ability to exercise it as a “Catholic”, but any use of this “Catholic” label is entirely contingent on authorization by the “competent eccleiastical authorities.”

  45. Joseph says:

    The question that I ask (to myself as well) is:

    Are we bothered by this law? Or, are we bothered by a perceived inequitable application of it? Or, are we bothered that it is being applied to someone we like (or who we think is orthodox, or who we think shouldn’t be impeded in their good work)?

    How many of us would run to the defense of the National Catholic Reporter or other heterodox group that is asked to comply with the law?

    This isn’t meant as an accusation . . . I’m not sure myself what I would do.

  46. Interesting comment from Inigo Hicks:

    I believe Dr. Peters has overlooked a Canon which also applies to this dispute. Canon 221 states that “[t]he Christian faithful can legitimately vindicate and defend the rights which they possess in the Church in the competent ecclesiastical forum according to the norm of law.” Canon 221 goes on to say “[i]f they are summoned to a trial by a competent authority, the Christian faithful also have the right to be judged according to the prescripts of the law applied with equity” (emphasis mine). A google search for “Catholic blog” yields almost 38 million hits. A google search for “Catholic media” yields more than 38 million hits. Surely, some of these are based in the Detroit Archdiocese. If the only Catholic blog or Catholic media organization, out of what is surely a total of thousands, that the Detroit Archdiocese seeks to prohibit from claiming the name of “Catholic” is the one belonging to Mr. Voris, can the Detroit Archdiocese claim to be applying canon law with equity?

  47. Johnno says:

    Let’s suppose, just suppose that RealCatholicTV is in violation of canon law on the surface and have used the name without permission.

    Then it seems to me that Voris and RealCatholicTV can approach the AoD to get that permission. In which case the question becomes… will AoD grant that permission? And if not, why not? If they have issues, why not work together to resolve it so that RealCatholicTV can continue its good work? That will be the next fascinating turn of events to watch and see what the AoD does… it’ll show their character and true intent behind this whole state of affairs!

    There are mayn thigns to notice here that others have pointed out.
    1) The focus of targeting an organization that is being clear and uncompromisingly Catholic.
    2) The confusion arising from who the authority is in this matter. And why we are only getting something that’s possibly something masquerading as an authority without actually being one.

    It reminds me of stories where faithful Catholics doing what is right are sent letters and cease and desist orders that try to look like they came from an authoritative source, but when examined are only found to be craftly worded disingenuous vagueries intended to seem like they are authoritative statements but in fact are simply not.

    Furthermore assuming the above scenario, if the AoD refuses to grant Voris the use of the ‘Catholic’ word in his programs, then they would have to declaritively state why. Simply ‘Not liking his approach’ is simply not a good reason and stinks of an abuse of power by the AoD in order to persecute the faihtful.

    With regards to stuff Jack Regan is saying, I’ve personally seen little evidence on the surface that RealCatholicTV has done anything wrong other than be boldly Catholic in their programs and Vortex episodes. And they have even gotten praise and approval from many other bishops who thank them for doing what they themselves are unable to due to all the complications surrounding them! If they actually have stated anything wrong or incorrect, then somebody somewhere amongst the Catholic blogosphere would’ve detailed whatever it is. As such the only complaints seem to be about Voris and RCTV’s ‘approach’, but not because their approach is ‘wrong,’ but because they simply dont like it or prefer to use it themselves prefering a more softer vaguer convoluted style. And of course whenever you’re going to be boldly out there proclaiming the true teachings of the Church one should never forget that even within the Church there lie wolves masquerading as sheep and they will do their darndest to inconvenience you.

    I understand that sometimes it causes dissent between the laity and bishops, but in several cases the bishops deserve it. I am not hapy that they do, but the reality that is making itself evident with more and more news on bishops failing to stem abuses, cozying up to LGBT groups and abortion groups and underhandedly funding them, sex abuse mishandlings, scandal after scandal etc. etc. etc. It is clear that there is something very very wrong with the way things are being run and the laity should rightly be concerned and resonably suspicious and make it a point to call out Church authorities when they suspect there may be an abuse of power or a lack of will to proclaim Church teachings and get certain organizations under control, as well as encourage and support their bishops to be good bishops whenever they do dare to do their jobs in the face of immense worldly opposition.

    Given how well Voris and RealCatholicTV has exposed something as massive as the CCHD Scandal and what they are doing and how long they have been doing it and total failure of the USCCB to monitor and halt it even after being warned and shown indisputable evidence, means they will have to deal with many enemies in high places.

  48. jflare says:

    Joseph,
    I think it’s precisely the fact that we’re seeing an Archdiocese goes buggy with this particular organization now, when this bishop and his brothers have all but ignored the open dissidence of numerous others for so long, that we’re raising some red flags.

    Had NCR and others been prodded to either demonstrate a greater fidelity to actual Catholic teaching or to change their name a long time ago, I think most of us wouldn’t object that much to requesting that RealCatholic TV change their name.
    As things stand, I’m inclined to wonder whether, if Detroit requires this, if San Diego or other places might also require Karl Keating and Jeff Mirus to change the names of Catholic Answers or Catholic Culture. While we could argue that neither of these outlets offers the same sorts of services as RealCatholic TV, the fact remains that both ARE apostolates with well-known intentions and they most likely HAVE irritated some folks somewhere along the line as well.

    Meanwhile, National Catholic Reporter and others say what they will with apparent impunity.
    Looks more than a little fishy.

  49. jaquila says:

    A few points:

    1. I wouldn’t read too much into the timing of the announcement. The Church works slowly. I have reason to believe that this action against Voris and RCTV has been in the works for over a year.

    2. I doubt a decision like this could be made without the Archbishop knowing.

    3. Its unfair to criticize Vigneron for not enforcing Canon 216 on more liberal Catholic groups that don’t reside in his diocese. Criticize him for stuff in his diocese, if you must, but not for the National Catholic Reporter.

    4. Let’s remember that Vigneron is one of the good guys. How many bishops lead pro-life rosary walks in the pouring rain in the Detroit ghetto (see Diane’s blog for pictures). Also, as rector Vigneron is widely credited with building up Sacred Heart Seminary. He has also inherited a tough job in a city that has been dying for years. They filmed Robocop in Detroit for a reason.

    5. I suspect the real issue here is Voris’ ability to speak at Catholic facilities and events in other dioceses. Most diocese require that a speaker brought in from another diocese have a letter of reference from his pastor or bishop. This decision denies that to Voris. Thus, other dioceses who have such policies have an excuse not to let Voris speak.

    6. Finally, I think it is a mistake to quibble over the technical use of the word Catholic. This is more about Catholic identity and who speaks for the Church.

  50. Johnno says:

    As Han eloquently put it… we are all getting bogged down in legalities and the letter of the law versus the heart of the law. The Church looks to have fallen into the same state of affairs that the Pharaisees and Saducees did and Christ warned them about it. Technicalities in the law are being used by certain sophists to burden the faithful and to argue themselves out of adhering to faithfulness.

    Common sense should be a big indicator of what’s what. Of course common sense must also be regulated, as what we consider ‘common sense’ is not always correct or infalliable. So it shouldn’t be an either/or approach, but to use both the rule of law and obvious common sense to determine what is going on and to put things right.

    Of course I’d call upon Voris and RealCatholicTV to always obey Church authority, as far as whatever conditions can applicably be imposed upon laymen, even if they’re unjustly decreed against. Saints greater than they have had to endure unfairness even from their superiors and the Church authority. But God desires this in any case, and will work it out to their benefit in the end. But I pray that the situation will be resolved best for everyone, both RealCatholicTV and the AoD.

  51. Jack Regan says:

    Apologies if my comments caused offence or irritation. When I came back to this site I made a resolution not to stir the waters too much :)

    To lay my cards on the table… there is a lot I respect and like about Voris and RCTV but I find myself extremely concerned by what comes across as a lot of bitterness and perhaps a little hatred in their reports.

    Perhaps these things are born of genuine concern, but I truly believe that Mr. Voris needs to address them. I believe that the charge of Christ to love one another and St. Paul’s assertion that any action is empty without love are things we must always have before our eyes. Even when we eel a genuine need to be critical. In fact, especially when we feel that need to be critical!

    I will leave the RCTV/ Voris threads alone now and will pray for all concerned.

  52. The AoD released a new, brief statement in response to inquiries it had about the timing of the news release. I embedded it in my own post, along with some thoughts.

  53. Jim_Sheridan says:

    Good post jflare. I have a San Diego diocean directory from 2002 and I remember that CATHOLIC ANSWERS is acknowledged in there as a Catholic organization. I have not owned a directory since then, but I assume they’re still acknowledged in there. CA has had several diocean employees (including Bishop Brom) on their radio show and as writers for THIS ROCK magazine. Former Auxillary Bishop Salvatore Cordileone will be on their show at the end of this month.

  54. Christine111 says:

    “and perhaps a little hatred in their reports.”

    There is not a hateful bone in Michael Voris’s body, which is clear to anybody with eyes who’s watched any of his talks. Don’t limit yourself to The Vortex, which is supposed to be pithy and provocative. Watch, for instance, this:

    Madrid: http://tinyurl.com/7pfxuxb

    or this:

    England: http://tinyurl.com/7bj8p4e

    I can say that his talk in England did more to challenge and convict me than several years’ worth of homilies.

  55. Richard W Comerford says:

    Re: Scribes & Pharacies

    I have heard it said that “Man is not made for the law but the that law is made for man”. It seems strange for the AOD to use Canon 216 against Real Catholic TV as Real Catholic TV is orthodox. It seems doubly strange given that Rome has never pursued this matter with orthodox groups. (Although it has gone after heterodox groups.) One would think that the AOD would know Rome’s history on this matter.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  56. I like people such as Dr. Peters who can cut through all the brambles surrounding what at heart is a simple issue and simply get to the heart of the matter. His analysis is spot-on.

  57. Denis says:

    Shouldn’t this law only be applied only when someone has actually misrepresented Catholic teaching? Of course, legally, a bishop can apply it whenever he wishes–if he doesn’t like someone’s hairstyle, or affinity for the fiddleback chasubles, for example–but isn’t there some moral obligation to apply it only when the faith is threatened by the “Catholic” in question?

  58. Denis says:

    The RealCatholic people said that they requested a meeting with the Archbishop, but were denied one. If true that’s pretty strange. If one is required to obtain permission from the ‘competent ecclesiastical authority’ shouldn’t it be possible to ask for permission?

  59. Richard W Comerford says:

    Re: St John of the Cross

    Perhaps one of the most internally violent and fractious religious orders in the history of the Church is the Carmelite Order. The Carmelites make the Knights Templar look positively benign. The case of St. John of the cross is instructive here.

    St. John of the Cross (1542 – 1591) was appointed Chaplain by the Papal Delegate to St. Theresa’s Convent. This appointment was made against the wishes of St. John’s lawful Carmelite Superiors. After the Papal Delegate’s death St. John was ordered by his Carmelite Superiors to return to his monastery. He refused. St John’s Religious Superior then arrested and imprisoned St John in his Monastery where St John was flogged in front of the other Monks weekly. St John eventually broke out his Monastery and escaped. After his death the Carmelite Order fractured again and divided into two separate Orders.

    Now there are Canonized Saints on both sides of this issue the controversy of which stretched over several centuries. Clearly St. John did not think he was being disobedient; and that the authority of the Papal delegate trumped the authority of the Carmelite Superior General – even after the Delegate’s death. Obviously, as evidenced by the stripes on St John’s back, his Carmelite superiors disagreed with him.

    Christ did not call us to be Pharacies. These whitened seplacurs worshiped not God but man made law. At the same time God, in his wisdom, gave us the successors to Peter and the Apostles to teach and guide us. The only way for this matter to be justly resolved is for the Archbishop (or his PR guy) to act not like a Pharacie but as a Shepherd.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  60. Richard W Comerford says:

    Re: Another point regarding the Canon Layer angle if I may.

    The Canonist who authored the instant article (Edward Peters) is an employee of AOD. Essentially in his article Canon Lawyer Peters is defending the actions of another AOD employee (The PR guy) who announced that Mr. Voris is not authorized to use the word “Catholic”. There may be a slight conflict of interest here.

    At the same time other employees of the AOD are organized into a heterodox group titled the “Elephant in the living room” (See http://elephantsinthelivingroom.com/) which is not only allowed by the AOD to describe itself as Catholic butalso allowed to meet on Church property on which it promotes various evils such as sodomy.

    I suspect that the current Voris kerfuffle is yet another dust up between church bureaucrats and an orthodox layman who will not play by their rules. It will be interesting to see what (if anything) the Archbishop will say on this matter in his own name.

    God bless

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  61. Denis says:

    From http://www.elephantsinthelivingroom.com/aboutus.html

    We are an organization of priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit, strongly supported by participating laity, who seek renewal of the Church of Detroit. …

    The Elephants have sponsored nine educational forums:
    2/14/04 Fr. Donald Cozzens, Crisis in the Church in America
    6/28/04 Fr. Michael Himes, Ecclesiology of Vatican II
    10/5/04 Dean Hoge, Evolving Visions of the Priesthood
    5/16/05 Tom Fox, The Need for Reform of Church Structures
    10/20/05 Fr. Richard McBrien, Critical Issues Facing the Church
    4/3/06 Sr. Joan Chittister, Women in the Church.
    5/23/06 Fr. Fred Daley, The Vatican’s document on
    Homosexuality
    9/26/06 Fr. Donald Cozzens, On Mandatory Celibacy
    10/27/06 Fr. Michael Sullivan, The Rights of Priests

  62. Dear Friends,

    Ed Peters has an update; maybe Fr. Z will follow up in a new post.

    http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/a-few-more-things-to-keep-in-mind-about-the-aod-and-vorisrctv/
    A couple points to consider, whether one agrees with him or not.

    1) Dr. Peters is a professor of Latin and teaches the subject at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

    2) He is a solid, orthodox Catholic and not ignorant of the sufferings endured by loyal Catholics (if you read his blog with any frequency, you will see what I mean by this). He is solid, and competent enough in canon law to be appointed as an advisor to the Apostolic Signatura and now works for Cardinal Burke, in addition to teaching the subject.

  63. Just for background purposes, here is more about the Holy See’s appointment of Dr. Peters as a referendarius.

    He made it clear he was not speaking as an advisor to the AoD and by extension I’m sure this same goes for his role as a consultant to the Signatura.

    http://www.catholicvoteaction.org/americanpapist/index.php?p=7419&cpage=1

    He’s merely explaining the canons. People need to read both of his posts slowly and carefully.

  64. Richard W Comerford says:

    Re: On AOD Canon Lawyers

    People might keep in mind that Canon Lawyer Peters is an employee of AOD. Another AOD employee made the recent public announcement concerning Mr. Voris & Company. So far no AOD employees have made similar announcements regarding either the heterodox AOD priest group titled “Elephant in the living room” or the very heterodox AOD retired Bishop Gumbleton.

    Time for the AOD Archbishop to play the Good Shepherd.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  65. Richard,

    Way too much conflating. If you disagree with a point he has made then talk about that point. But please don’t call into question the man’s integrity and have some respect for his competencies (in Latin and canon law). He didn’t hide the fact that he is an advisor to the AoD, explaining it this way in the first of two commentaries:

    I comment here not as an advisor to the AOD, but as an established observer on public canonical issues, and I reiterate what is noted to the right of every ILOTL post, namely, that this blog represents my opinions only.

    To which Father Z responded in the body of his post: [Noted.]

  66. lizaanne says:

    With regard to Dr. Peters – Peters is on Vigneron’s payroll. He works directly for the archbishop. His office is in the basement of the AoD seminary. His “opinion” is not just an unbiased “opinion”. He has a dog in the fight. The fact that he is an advisor to Burke is, while not a non-issue, is nowhere NEAR AS IMPORTANT as the fact that he is paid by Vigneron.

    Burke has A LOT of advisors, some of which disagree with Peters on quite a number of points.

  67. I find Dr. Peter’s legal analogy ineffective when compared to an internet apostolate. For legal advice to be received in a state requires a license from that receiving state. Following the legal example illustrated to its ultimate conclusion, then any internet apostolate, which can be received in any diocese on the planet would need license (“authorized to practice”) from every diocese on the planet. That’s not practical, nor do I think was it in the mind of the lawmaker when those canons were written. The capabilities of the internet have forced re-thinking on many fronts over the years.

    Given there is no response for dialog from the AoD, in which simply ignoring is certainly not in line with basic justice, perhaps RCTV can make a canonical appeal to the Pope, request a contentious trial, and then this would force the issues of jurisdiction and equity of justice (e.g. deal equally with all organizations having the word Catholic in them) to be resolved. I believe this also sets aside any ruling (e.g. you can’t use the word Catholic) made by AoD under canon 1638. Anyone who follows dissent knows about the infamous Bishop Gumbleton and how Detroit was the founding locality for the even more infamous Call to Action. Not a good record for orthodoxy. My own experience indicates how liberals will use any method available to silence the orthodox Catholics.

  68. LizaAnne wrote:

    The fact that he is an advisor to Burke is, while not a non-issue, is nowhere NEAR AS IMPORTANT as the fact that he is paid by Vigneron.

    Good point. A paid employee of the AoD making public statements about their official canonical position. Can the two really be divided?

    And…

    Burke has A LOT of advisors, some of which disagree with Peters on quite a number of points.

    And isn’t that true about all forms of law…civil or canonical? There are always two (or three..or four) opinions on every issue.

    I agree, Fr Marie-Paul: this screams for an appeal.

  69. Richard W Comerford says:

    “Way too much conflating. If you disagree with a point he has made then talk about that point.”

    If the good lawyer works for AOD in any capacity then it would aid transparency to make that fact crystal clear at the beginning of each article on otherwise there is a potential conflict of interest issue.

    “But please don’t call into question the man’s integrity”

    It is not a matter of integrity rather common sense. A lawyer cannot in justice make any public statement based on his professional opinion regarding a conflict or potential conflict between two parties if he is employed by one of the adversarial (or potential adversarial) parties unless he clearly states beforehand that he is an employee of one of the parties to the conflict.

    “have some respect for his competencies”

    It is not a matter of competence but transparency. We have just gone through 50-years of Church bureaucrats hiding the activities of predatory priests (and flushing down the toilet more than a few innocent priests). It is time now for courageous Shepherds – not smart lawyers.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  70. RWC, You are being tedious. About 1.5 inches to the right of every new blog post of mine is the following sentence: “Since 2005 he [Peters] has held the Edmund Cdl. Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit MI. ” My work for SHMS, and thru it the AOD, is long-standing and quite well-known.

  71. Richard W Comerford says:

    Attorney Peters:

    “You are being tedious.”

    Sorry about being tedious. I am not an exciting lawyer.

    “About 1.5 inches to the right of every new blog post of mine is the following sentence”

    That is very nice for folks who visit your blog and bother to read the small print. However your blog entries are being posted around the internet without the small print.

    “My work for SHMS, and thru it the AOD, is long-standing and quite well-known.”

    No doubt it is among the vast seminary crowd. But I did not know it until another (somewhat outraged) blogger from Detroit pointed it out. And as evidenced by others posters’ comments I was not alone in my ignorance. What is so hard about starting your blog entries on this matter with “I make my living working for the AOD?”

    After 50-years of Scandal, cover-ups and deception from Church bureaucrats we could use a little crystal clear transparency.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford