Raymond Arroyo

Canadian Priest Accuses Pro-Lifers of Hatred and Bullying

Deal W. Hudson
Published September 14, 2009

One of Canada’s best-known priests, Rev. Thomas Rosica, CSB, has describedthe pro-life critics of the Kennedy funeral as “not agents of life, but of division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment, and violence.” Father Rosica is CEO of a Catholic Canadian television network – Salt + Light, endorsed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In his September 3 blogpost, Father Rosica also made a veiled criticism ofRaymond Arroyo, News Director of EWTN, for his August 31 comment, “Ted Kennedy: Catholic Legacy and the Letters.” Father Rosica aimed his criticism at the “many so-called lovers of life and activists in the pro-life movement, as well as well known colleagues in Catholic television broadcasting and media in North America.” There is no one he could have meant but Arroyo, because no other colleagues in Catholic television have made negative comments about the funeral.

As a result, LifeSiteNews, based in Toronto, covered the story on September 4 with an article titled “Battle of the Catholic Stations: Salt and Light’s Fr. Rosica Rips EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo over Kennedy Funeral.” John-Henry Westen, writing for LifeSiteNews, opined, “The root of Fr. Rosica’s concerns seems to be the fact that lay persons are daring to publicly question the actions of clergy.”

Faher Rosica, however, later slammed Westen’s article and denied his reference was aimed directly at Arroyo. In a September 9 interview with Bob Dunning on “Across the Nation” (Sirius Catholic Radio), the priest said:

I don’t agree with Raymond Arroyo’s blog that he wrote criticizing Cardinals McCarrick and O’Malley… For them to say that I aimed everything at Raymond Arroyo; there were about 20 different people. Raymond Arroyo was the most public that they cited, which I didn’t mention in my article, but we all saw Raymond Arroyo’s blog, but we saw many other people stirring up – and priests especially, who claim to be pro-life, causing more division in the Church. (Taken from a transcript of the program.)

Father Rosica went on to explain to Dunning, “I think civility, charity, kindness, and humanity – when they fall from the picture, when they are not present, we have a big problem on our hands.” Yet, in his September 3 blogpost this is how he described the critics of the Kennedy funeral:

Through vicious attacks launched on blogs, a new form of self-righteousness, condemnation, and gnosticism reveals authors whobehave as little children bullying one another around in schoolyards – casting stones, calling names, and wreaking havoc in the Church today!What such people fail to realize is that their messages are ultimately screamed into a vacuum. No one but their own loud crowd is really listening… Sowing seeds of hatred and division are not the work of those who wish to build a culture of life (emphasis added).

I have read through Arroyo’s comment several times and have found nothing like what Father Rosica describes above. Interestingly enough, the priest also took a swing at the internationally respected LifeSite News:

For the 1/10th of kernel of truth that they purport to uncover, and there is truth in what they do, 9/10ths is exaggeration. It is bombastic, it is derisive and it is divisive (emphasis added).

Once again I find nothing in Westen’s story that sounds as “bombastic” as Father Rosica’s own comments.

Father Rosica is an influential priest as well as an accomplished scholar. He has been known to defend Catholic dissenters in the past, as he did in 1996 as director of the Newman Center at the University of Toronto. A group of faithful Catholics were peacefully protesting a lecture by noted dissenter and defrocked theologian Gregory Baum at Toronto University’s Catholic Newman Centre.

Father Rosica called the police to remove a group of protesters handing out flyers documenting the damage Professor Baum, an excommunicated priest, had done the Church. “That’s pure madness in those flyers,” Toronto’s Catholic Register(May 27, 1996) reported Father Rosica as saying. (Baum was one of the leading dissenters from Humanae Vitae.)

Not surprisingly, Father Rosica now criticizes those who questioned the wisdom of a funeral for a famously pro-abortion politician which, as Arroyo wrote, “was truly about cementing the impression, indeed catechizing the faithful, that one can be a Catholic politician, and so long as you claim to care about the poor, you may licitly ignore the cause of life.”

Yes, there were scattered blog comments attacking the funeral and the participation of Cardinals O’Malley and McCarrick. But I am not aware of a single recognized Catholic commentator who is guilty of the invective which Father Rosica describes. Just as I wrote last week that none of the major critics of the Kennedy funeral was guilty of what Bishop Morlino warned against – delight in a soul’s damnation – none is guilty of “the division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment, and violence” bemoaned by Father Rosica.

He told Dunning, “Let’s call a spade, a spade.” Indeed, let’s! We should begin by hearing the names of the “20 different people” who are sowing this division by disagreeing with Father Rosica. That would be a good place to start.

Charity, Civility, and Speaking the Truth

Deal W. Hudson
Published September 21, 2009

The funeral of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy provoked a highly charged debate among Catholics about civility. In the midst of this discussion, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, came to Washington, D.C., to be honored by InsideCatholic.com at its 14th Annual Partnership Dinner at the historic Mayflower Hotel.

Addressing more than 200 guests, Archbishop Burke said, “We must speak the truth in charity,” but also, “We should have the courage to look truth in the eye and call things by their common names.” The tension between these two admonitions is evident in his own heroic defense of the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life and his personal humility.

Frank Hanna, a Catholic businessman and philanthropist from Atlanta, noted this in his introduction of the honoree. Before ever meeting Archbishop Burke, Hanna said he thought of him as a lion, whose roar “would send chills of admiration” down his spine. But, when he finally met the man one day in Birmingham, he noted:

I was struck by his simple humility. He greeted me with kindness and warmth. And I thought to myself, that’s how lions are – no waving about, just quiet humble strength. There is a reason C. S. Lewis made Aslan, the lion, his hero.

Indeed, it is hard not to be struck by the gentle demeanor of the bishop who caused such a ruckus in the 2004 election by saying he would deny communion to presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry. Since then, he has remained one of the most outspoken American bishops on the subject of the defense of life and marriage.

Friday evening in Washington was no different. Throughout his 50-minute address, the archbishop returned again and again to the scandal of Catholic politicians who support abortion or same-sex marriage. He did not mince his words: “It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself in this manner.”

“Neither Holy Communion nor funeral rites should be administered to such politicians,” said Archbishop Burke. “To deny these is not a judgment of the soul, but a recognition of the scandal and its effects.”

With obvious reference to the Kennedy funeral, he argued that when a politician is associated “with greatly sinful acts about fundamental questions like abortion and marriage, his repentance must also be public.” He added, “Anyone who grasps the gravity of what he has done will understand the need to make it public.”

It’s not uncharitable to point out the scandal caused by these Catholic politicians. “The Church’s unity is founded on speaking the truth in love. This does not destroy unity but helps to repair a breach in the life of the Church.”

Archbishop Burke rejects all the standard arguments made by Catholic politicians and their apologists who support abortion and same-sex marriage. For example, the defense of the unborn and traditional marriage is not strictly a matter of religious faith. “The observance of the natural law is not a confessional practice – it’s inscribed in every human heart.”

Archbishop Burke describes the latest tactic of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, who talk about finding common ground, as a form of “proportionalist moral reasoning.” “Common ground is found rather on ‘the ground of moral goodness,’ and not in a compromise of certain moral truths, like the rejection of abortion and euthanasia.”

He warned against allowing this kind of false reasoning to enter the health-care debate. A Catholic cannot accept the attainment of universal health care if it includes abortion and other evils “just because it achieves some desirable outcomes.”

In this form of reasoning, the archbishop hears an echo of the type of “seamless garment” argument that conceals a distinction between intrinsically evil acts and those that may be evil in some situations; these acts “are not all of the same cloth.”

The standing ovation for Archbishop Burke lasted several minutes before Raymond Arroyo, the master of ceremonies and news director of EWTN, returned to the podium. Once again, as Hanna put it in his introduction, Archbishop Burke had “stood up for the Church and her teachings, in the face of violent world criticism and even some within the Church.”

As InsideCatholic.com editor Brian Saint-Paul handed Archbishop Burke the award for “Service to the Church and our Nation,” I commented that, “This lion speaks with the voice and face of a lamb, and, thus, is an example of how to speak the truth in charity.”