Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Real Catholic Communication: Voris vs. AoD

There’s lots of talk about the tension between the Archdiocese of Detroit and RealCatholicTV, but there seems to me to be a singular lack of communication.
For one thing, the AoD has released several statements (one in 2008, one on December 15, 2011, and one on January 3, 2012), all of which use similar phraseology with regard to RCTV:
“…is not authorized to use the name ‘Catholic’…”
“does not have the authorization required under Church law to  identify or promote itself as Catholic”
“does not regard them as authorized to use the word Catholic..”
I like things to be laid out clearly. I’m not always good at doing that myself, of course; and sometimes I’m too good at it, which is generally called “lacking in tact” or being “uncharitable”. Some think it’s “calling a spade a spade”. But I digress.
In none of its “communications” does the AoD say that RCTV has been asked to stop using the name “Catholic”. And yet, that is what we read everywhere! Even LifeSiteNews, which has given excellent coverage to the situation, uses the phrase “drop the ‘Catholic’ name”:  
Comments on blogs indicate that many people believe that Voris and company should “be obedient” to the Archbishop. Well…what is the command which they must obey? Where’s the letter to RCTV spelling out the directive? Where’s the communication?
Sorry, but to me there is a difference between these two statements:
“RCTV is not authorized by the AoD to use the name ‘Catholic’”
“The AoD has asked RCTV to stop using the name ‘Catholic’”
That second statement has not been issued by the AoD, as far as I can tell.
In my opinion, the vague “not authorized” statements simply allow posturing by the AoD: they allow and encourage the faithful to form a negative opinion about RCTV; they allow the media to suggest that RCTV is ignoring a direct order from the AoD; and they allow the question of motivation to be dodged.
The phrase “is not authorized” begs the question “by whom?” By the archbishop? Why isn’t he communicating? According to the first LifeSiteNews story on this topic,
Voris says that communication was only one way – directives from the Archdiocese and refusal to meet with Voris or Brammer to discuss the matter.  Voris told LifeSiteNews that he has requested a meeting with Archdiocesan officials seven times to discuss the matter, but each time he has been ignored or rebuffed.
Real Catholic communication from the AoD? I think not.
Of course, the question we all really want answered is, “Why?” That question has not been addressed by the AoD (although most of us think we know the answer!) The AoD issued its January 3 statement because it had received so many inquiries about the situation – and yet the January statement says little more than the December one. The January 9th LifeSiteNews story notes that (my emphasis):
When asked by LifeSiteNews what concerns the Detroit Archdiocese had about Voris and RealCatholicTV.com, Detroit Archdiocesan Director of Communications McGrath would not specify any concern other than the use of the word ‘Catholic’.
Real Catholic communication from the AoD spokesman?…NOT.
Dr. Ed Peters has weighed in on the side of the AoD as having “jurisdiction”, and he seems to have some good points. Interestingly, though, he consistently addresses the question using the phrase “authorization to use the name ‘Catholic’”. He says:
I can add, though, that the “lack of jurisdiction” claim implies that the AOD needed “jurisdiction” to state that it “does not regard [Voris/RCTV] as being authorized to use the word ‘Catholic’ to identify or promote their public activities (Dec 2011)” …
Since when, I ask, does the AOD need “jurisdiction” to reply to inquiries made to it by third-parties regarding Voris/RCTV or to anticipate the need to respond to more such inquiries in the future?
Good point, I think, about the AoD’s right to say that it has not authorized the use of the name “Catholic” by RCTV, especially if someone calls the office and says “Does the AoD recognized this as a Catholic enterprise?” or some such question.
But is that the same as saying the AoD has the right to ask that RCTV change its name (and has the AoD in fact done that)? Maybe I’m missing something, but I’ll say it one more time: I don’t see how “not authorized” necessarily translates as “must stop using”.
I just want people to be clear in what they are saying.
Clear, honest, meaningful communication. Is that too much to ask from…dare I say it...Catholics?
Oh, and by the way, here’s the response presented on The Vortex by Michael Voris on behalf of St. Michael’s Media and RCTV. I think it’s pretty clear.

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