Friday, January 20, 2012

Voris/RCTV and the AoD: Apples and Oranges

Dr. Ed Peters has weighed in once more with his further analysis of the adversarial situation that exists between the Archdiocese of Detroit and Michael Voris/RCTV.[i]
However, when comparing the comments of Dr. Peters and the comments of most of the bloggers who are opining on the issue (myself included), it seems to me that we’re talking apples and oranges.
Personally, I don’t believe it’s ultimately a question of Canon Law and the question of jurisdiction.  Certainly Canon Law is being used – and possibly abused – in this instance, but as I have noted elsewhere, I think most people rightly guess that there’s a not-so-hidden agenda in all of this.
Dr. Peters categorizes the various reactions to the AoD’s actions along the following lines:
(a)  protestations of Voris/RCTV’s orthodoxy

(b)  heterodox groups use the name Catholic with impunity

(c)   dissident groups known to be Catholic are not being corrected

(d)  the AOD has no ‘jurisdiction’ to issue its statement about Voris/RCTV

(e)  consternation that many small Catholic initiatives will have to change their names

(f)    insinuations that a cabal of curial holdouts from the 1970s have it in for Voris personally, that the AOD is bankrupt, that some critics of Voris/RCTV are tools of the Evil One, and so on, and so on
Dr. Peters maintains that the first three points are largely irrelevant; and as far as the canon legalities, he’s right. Still, my own personal opinion is that they are quite relevant – from a different perspective.

Here are my oranges to his apples:

Suppose that Voris/RCTV’s orthodoxy or “Catholicity” is truly not in question – and it seems not to be, as the AoD has not made any statement to that effect that I’m aware of, nor was a direct question about RCTV’s orthodoxy answered in the media. Suppose also that at least some heterodox groups use the name Catholic with impunity, and some dissident groups use the name and are not corrected (both of which are certainly true).

Given those premises, it seems to me that by targeting Voris/RCTV, the AoD is inviting some form of assertion (f) in Dr. Peters’ list. I’m not saying that (f) logically follows from (a), (b), and (c); I’m saying that reasonable people looking at the big picture might easily find some variation (f) to be a plausible – if not proven – explanation for the action taken by the AoD against Voris/RCTV.  

Even if it’s only a “possible” explanation, and even if it’s not true at all, appearances are important and instructive when the Faithful are seriously looking to the hierarchy for guidance. It looks like the AoD is doing something underhanded. If it is not, it would seem that more complete and clear statements of the AoD's intent and purpose are in order, especially given the high-profile nature of the situation...and especially given the fact that one is hard-pressed to argue that the RCTV programming is not "Catholic".

LifeSiteNews reported that:

When asked by LifeSiteNews what concerns the Detroit Archdiocese had about Voris and, Detroit Archdiocesan Director of Communications McGrath would not specify any concern other than the use of the word ‘Catholic’.

I think the Archdiocese of Detroit owes the Faithful a better explanation than that.

(See also this timeline at veneremurcernui blog.)

[i] Once again, I acknowledge that Dr. Peters has the credentials, experience, and “name” to voice well-informed opinion on this issue with regard to Canon Law, while I do not. I also don’t disagree with him about the “jurisdiction” issue, which seems to be his main concern. In other words, I have no intention of debating him on Canon Law.

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