Tuesday, March 31, 2015

You Yell Shark

I can't help it. Guess I had another blog in me concerning the religious freedom anti-gay discrimination debate. I kind of get fired up about deliberate misrepresentations. It isn't just the lack of honesty, it's the total lack of justice. It's a lack of fair play, it's cheating. I just can't stand cheating. Winners never cheat and cheaters never win.  Not to mention the bully tactics that are being employed. 

"I don't think you appreciate the gut reaction people have to these things, Martin, It's all psychological. You yell 'Barracuda,' everybody says 'Huh? What?" You yell 'Shark' we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July." Jaws 1975

You yell "stop religious freedom" nobody is going to listen to you. You yell "anti-gay discrimination" and you've got yourself a panic on the Fourth of July...or at least a bandwagon that everybody is going to jump onto without question. It's the gut reaction that you're looking for and a psychological head game. Only this time it isn't a shark, it isn't a barracuda, it's just a cardboard fin. And because we are so busy chasing down the cardboard fin, we totally are not paying attention to the real shark chewing off legs over in the pond. The use of anti-gay discrimination in this context is a cardboard fin. A sham shark. 

The sham argument in logic is called a Straw Man. The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores the actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. It goes exactly like this: 
"We want to make a law to protect religious freedom."
"Why would you want to discriminate against gays like that." 
What they do is attempt to rebuild a misrepresentation of your position out of straw so that it will be easier to knock down.They then attack that version rather than the actual position.  In this case people have simply ignored the actual law and its purpose and have substituted a distorted. exaggerated misrepresentation of that law. You aren't going to be able to dispute religious freedom unless you want to take on the Bill of Rights and what this country was founded on. Instead you distort, exaggerate and misrepresent a connection and association with discrimination. Then you yell shark and watch the panic ensue. Except that it's a man made of straw. A fin made of cardboard. The problem with this is that for a straw man to be successful, for a cardboard fin to cause hysteria it requires, in fact it is betting on, that the audience is ignorant and uninformed. Further investigation eventually exposes that man of straw, that cardboard fin for what it is, 

The hysteria is not confined to discrimination alone. In one of the discussions I had recently the possibility of "religious groups" forming to circumvent the law was presented. As well as ISIS being able to get a foothold in Indiana under religious exemptions. This law according to their argument would result in absolute anarchy in the state of Indiana. There's more than corn in Indiana, I guess, but those arguments are nothing but corn. It does go to show how far people are willing to go to convince us that cardboard fin is really a shark. Have false "religious groups" formed in other RFRA states to circumvent the law? Does ISIS have a foothold in all of the other RFRA states? Anarchy, however, is what we are seeing right now in which mob rule and bully tactics are attempting to regulate society.

This law upholds and protects not one but two of our essential rights. The right to religious freedom and the right to petition for the redress of grievances. Religious freedom is one of the basic rights that our country upholds. It is in fact a pillar that supports all of society. Each and every freedom in the Bill of Rights is in fact endangered by this mob rule. Freedom of speech has been curtailed often labeled as aggression and hateful. When freedom of speech falls freedom of the press falls with it. We cannot always peaceably assemble, ask those who have been arrested for peaceably assembling outside of an abortion clinic. And with the protests of this law the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances is also in question. When these pillars fall other rights and freedoms will domino as well. Soon the very protections against discrimination that the LGBT community seeks will fall. For there will be no conscience to desire it, no voice to insist on it, no petition to ask for it and no assemblies to stand for it.  In point of fact the very methods that are being used to force a protection from discrimination are instead the very things that will guarantee that such protections no longer exist. It is called biting off your nose to spite your face. Or letting the real shark in the pond devour you limb from limb as you call attention to the cardboard fin.

The fact is this is going to blow over. People are going to do business with Indiana for the same bottom line reasons they did business with them before. All the twitter conversations will move on to the next cause celebre. The dust will settle. At that time the truth will emerge as people see that the RFRA did not bring about all of the dire things they predicted. The thing is, like the boy who cried wolf you lose credibility and sooner or later people no longer listen. Same thing when you yell shark and it's only a cardboard fin. And each time you create a public hysteria and the public finds out there really was nothing to be hysterical about you lose their trust. When you cheat after awhile nobody roots for you. In the end, when the dust settles, people will see the reality of the bullies and the cheats who were willing to risk the rights of everyone else in their state, who were ready and willing to encourage the financial ruin of their state to accomplish their ends. Who were willing to allow the shark to devour us all. They may have, in fact, "jumped the shark" with this one revealing a desperate attempt to gain support for what is not viable. The thing about jumping the shark is that it usually signals the beginning of the end.

The LGBT community wants to become a protected class. It can't be done this way. It can't come through a cheat that endangers the very protections that they seek. It can't be done by becoming a bully and forcing their protection by the loss of other protections. Sowing anarchy will not reap a protected society.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Gal 6:7

When they sow the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind, Hosea 8:7 

He who upsets his household inherits the wind Pr. 22:29

The use of these methods can bring nothing but destruction and an empty inheritance. When you deliberately yell shark to gain attention, to get the gut reaction and the psychological advantage you will, indeed, create a panic on the Fourth of July. But when that shark is only a cardboard fin sooner or later that is going to reveal itself. And sooner or later everyone will realize that by doing so you left us all totally unprotected from the real shark in the pond.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hatin' In Indiana

I know that I wrote about this yesterday but I have continued to watch the public reactions, the petitions, the tweets and comments from celebrities. I am wondering how many people actually read the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act or how many just followed a headline like a lemming off a cliff? How many people let the spin just spin their head right round and out of control?

I do know that there are about 85,000 people who have put their names to a petition to recall the governor without bothering to find out that you can’t recall the governor in Indiana. Without finding out, as well, that even if you could you would probably have to have physical petitions with physical signatures to do so. I guess it doesn’t matter how ignorant you may look when you are letting the world know how upset you are

Ashton Kutcher, Reggie Miller, Miley Cyrus, Montel Williams et al did you actually read the darn thing or did you just jump on a band wagon because there was one? Hillary Clinton definitely should know better. But then twitter is not known for being a platform for the most astute and intelligent members of our society.

This is absolutely nothing in that law that gives the slightest indication that religious freedoms can be used as an excuse to discriminate. There is also nothing in that law to indicate that religious freedom was to be given a place of such absolute primacy that it trumped the rights of others.

But there were the headlines that said the bill was “anti-gay”. Rather than being outraged at such biased and manipulative duplicity, many will not even bother to learn the truth. Some will even remain deliberately ignorant. 

"I just can't account for the hostility that's been directed at our state." said Governor Pence. "I've been taken a back by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill"

So who’s hatin’ who here.

Who has gathered the virtual lynch mob? Who has whipped up the emotions of others with misinformation and why would they want to?

"Despite the irresponsible headlines that have appeared in the national media, this law is not about discrimination," said Governor Pence, "If it was, I would have vetoed it."

People of religion have many more concerns than whether or not we don’t want to sell cookies to somebody.  That is an extremely simplistic evaluation of why we might want religious freedom to be protected. And quite frankly, it is the least of our worries. Regardless of rhetoric and reports nobody was wishin' and hopin' and waitin' for the day they passed a law that would give them a blank check for discrimination. It is a ridiculous notion unworthy of intelligent consideration.

As I read many of the articles, commentaries and comments I came across this phrase describing the RFRA “it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds.”  There it was, the word compel.  To force, induce, require, coerce, twist someone’s arm, to bring about by the use of force or pressure. It will keep the government from forcing people. This is not about discrimination. It is not about wedding cakes and photographers. It is about force. It is being afraid that when religious freedoms are protected they have somehow lost an ability to take by force.

They are afraid that they may have lost the ability to force the removal of religious symbols from memorials. They are afraid that they have lost the ability to force the removal of any kind of public prayer. They are afraid they have lost the ability to force compliance to abortion. They are afraid they have lost the ability to force the silencing of conscience. They are afraid they may have lost the ability to force the removal of religious influence of any kind. They are afraid they have lost the ability to act out their own religious prejudices by force.

So they created a boogie man of discrimination to hide behind. And people who never bother to seek the truth blindly fell in line.

I ask again. Who is hatin’ on who here?

Some food for thought. For what it’s worth

Friday, March 27, 2015

19th Nervous Breakdown

You better stop, look around,
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown

This song, of course, is the Rolling Stones from 1966. It is the song that keeps coming to my mind when reading the utter insanity that has surrounded the Religious Freedom bill that was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana today. It seems that the LGBT community and those who support them are seeing this as putting them under the thumb of discrimination. It seems that they are afraid that this opens the door wide so that they can't get no satisfaction from certain businesses and will be told you can't always get what you want. They are certainly trying to paint it black as they can. It also seems that very soon we can expect to see signs, signs everywhere are signs blocking out the scenery and breakin' our minds and denying services to those in the LGBT community.

Forgive my cheekiness but I tend to get that way when it seems to me that things may be being blown out of proportion just a tad. Let's take a few deep breaths here. simmer down a bit. I very much doubt the dire predictions will come to pass. Why? Because protecting citizens from the type of discrimination that is being described is of compelling interest to the State. Furtherance of compelling governmental interest is a criteria that has been written into this law. There are about 30 other states that have enacted freedom of religion protections. A majority of the country by the way. Can anyone give me instances and statistics that what people fear has happened in any of those other states? Or that they have happened at a Federal level in the 20 years since the Federal RFRA was put into place? Can you give me the statistics of the loss of revenue and jobs because businesses have pulled out in protest?  Can you show me the evidence of an onslaught of LGBT discrimination from businesses as a direct result of similar laws in the other states? Can you show the pictures of the signs that went up in shop windows? I think not. Because if people could have shown that evidence they would have. Instead they are merely trying to shout this law down with opinion and fear. Religious freedom laws have not legitimized discrimination nor undermined discrimination laws in other states that have enacted an RFRA.

There was a petition circulating that calls for a recall vote to unseat Governor Pence. The problem is that Indiana does not have a statute providing for the recall of a state official. So it won't really matter how many names are on that petition it won't be able to make a difference. There is, however, another petition circulating in an attempt to institute such a statute. Time is on my side for Mike Pence however. Such a statute would require an amendment to the state constitution. This would require that the law go before two General Assemblies over two years. It is too late for this year's General Assembly which means that the law would have to go before the assemblies of 2016 and 2017. If passed it would go before the voters on the ballot in 2018 and would become law in 2019. You would then have to organize the recall vote. If Mike Pence were re-elected in the next election he would be leaving office after the two term limit in 2020. Which is just about the same time you would be able to unseat him through a recall if the amendment passed. Give or take a few months. But even after all of that we would still have the RFRA.

Opinions are being expressed that this law was totally unnecessary and therefore mainly an in your face power play after recent political losses concerning same-sex marriage. Many find it redundant to protect religious freedoms at the state level when the First Amendment already protects it and a federal RFRA is already in place. The necessity of freedom of religion protections go much further than the fact that some people don't like that two people of the same sex have decided to let's spend the night together. There was a time that freedom of religion would have been assumed due to the First Amendment. Over the past 50 years or so many of those freedoms have been slowly eroded and are no longer assumed. Freedom of religion has been reduced to the right to private practice of religion and the right to worship. Basically, you have a right to practice your religion and to worship but keep it to yourself and we can all get along. Public expressions or exercise of religious freedom are bit by bit being eliminated in a misinterpretation and misapplication of separation of church and state. Even freedom of speech rights are being eroded for the religious. To express a religious opinion, no matter how mildly or reasonably, can often be socially categorized as a hate crime. Many have said that it has always been legal to practice your religion in the United States. This narrow view of private practice vs a wider view of public expression and exercise is one of the reasons such laws have become necessary. As well as certain laws being enacted or that could be enacted that would force someone to actively participate in what is contrary to their religious beliefs. The federal RFRA only applies to actions of the federal government and does not cover the actions of state governments. This bill establishes a general legal standard on the state level for evaluating laws and governmental practices that may impose substantial burdens on the exercise of religion. The state must meet the "compelling interest" test in imposing burdens on the exercise of religion. Those who claim religious exemptions are also ensured the right to their day in court to establish that there is a reasonable basis for that exemption. It does not guarantee that they would win that day in court, however. Only that they have the right to say hey, you, get off of my cloud and have the opportunity to establish the reasonableness of that claim.

You shouldn't be able to discriminate. You also shouldn't be able to force someone to go against their beliefs. Nor should we want to. A business cannot refuse to serve you because of your sexual status. They can however, determine the content of their products and they might be able to refuse to participate in events that are contrary to their religious views. As long as they do not pick and choose, or target one group over another this is not discrimination. In other words, a bakery cannot put up a sign that says they will not serve LGBT people. Anyone can get their donuts, bread, cupcakes, etc and birthday cakes for their child's birthday. But the bakery might refuse to make cakes that depict something contrary to their religion. They also may be able to refuse events that are contrary to their religion. If they refuse a same sex wedding because of religious objections but they also refuse a sister wives wedding, refuse sympathy for the devil at a Satanic Temple event, refuse to cater the pro-choice rally etc. their actions in refusing a LGBT event might not be considered discrimination. They can demonstrate a consistent overall policy of maintaining religious convictions that does not target one group exclusively. By the same token a LGBT person who owns a small t-shirt business can refuse to print t-shirts that say marriage is one man one woman for a local church because the content goes against their beliefs. Or they could refuse to do the printing for a local anti-LGBT rally. Unless we are saying that they should be forced to print those t-shirts or risk being sued or fined right out of business? Would we be able to claim a religious discrimination? In this case all would say that they were only upholding their individual rights and beliefs. But when Christians do it we call it discrimination. When PETA won't hire someone as their spokesman because they privately wear fur coats, eat hamburgers and keep animals in cages we don't see anything wrong with it. PETA has a right to expect that their members and employees do not act contrary to their beliefs. But let that happen at a church concerning a question of a moral nature and all of a sudden the standard is different.

Indiana signed into law a reaffirmation of the protection of a First Amendment right to freedom of religion. You have to wonder what is going on in this country when protecting the First Amendment causes a 19th nervous breakdown. When upholding that freedom is met with frenzied, frantic, hysteria, dire predictions and deliberate associations of religion with discrimination. Without reason or reasonableness strident voices that have been easily triggered into reactionary outrage and emotion, following a lead of panic and fear are protesting the protection of a First Amendment right. Do we hear ourselves right now? Gimme Shelter.

That's my opinion. For what it's worth.

19th Nervous Breakdown,The Rolling Stones 1966
Under My Thumb, The Rolling Stones 1966
Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones 1965
You Can't Always Get What You Want, The Rolling Stones 1969
Paint It Black, The Rolling Stones 1966
Signs, Five Man Electrical Band 1970
Time Is On My Side, The Rolling Stones 1964
Let's Spend The Night Together, The Rolling Stones 1967
Get Off Of My Cloud, The Rolling Stones 1967
Sympathy For the Devil, The Rolling Stones 1968
Gimme Shelter, The Rolling Stones 1969

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Games People Play

Oh the games people play now, every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now, never saying what they mean

Elizabeth Scalia, The Anchoress, over at Patheos said recently that “internet Catholics be crazy.” I think she caught a little bit of flak for saying that. I just got a whiff of some people that might have been offended. I think it was because she didn’t use the word “some”, thus implying that all Catholics on the internet are crazy.  I don’t know for sure, though, I didn’t follow that one. Take it with a grain of salt. However, if people did take offense at what was obviously a tongue-in-cheek remark, if we wasted time in com boxes and twitter discussions over whether or not it is only “some” Catholics and not "all" who be crazy…well…that kind of proves Scalia’s point doesn’t it? To tell you the truth, as a Catholic blogger on the internet, I am going to have to agree with her, sometimes “some” Catholics on the internet just be trippin’.

People walking up to you, singing glory halleluiah
And they’re trying to sock it to you in the name of the Lord

A case in point has been the fervor and sensation created over a priest suing a blogger.  This story began to develop from what would seemingly have been a personal issue between the two men to a cause celebre. It began to take on other implications and even exaggerations. I have already addressed some specifics of that story here and will not continue to beat that horse. For me that story began to become less about the specifics of that situation, nor the actions of those two men, anyway. Rather it became more about how we were reacting to it and how that was impacting the Church. As I said in my previous blog, my next series of posts will be examining what could be happening here. There seems to be a shortage of calm reason and balance but a plethora of emotionally driven and reactionary sensationalism, exaggeration, speculation and deliberate bias prolific in the Church today. Some of it, in my opinion, a concentrated attempt to cast doubt upon the Pope, the Church and the upcoming Synod. There seems to be an interesting propensity to sock it to the Pope and the Vatican in the name of the Lord. Some media outlets and blogs devoting themselves to letting you know exactly how desperate and bad things are. And quite frankly there are people who are lapping it up and passing it on in a true heard-it-through-the-grape-vine manner. I wonder if the Pope had an idea of what was coming when he consecrated the Vatican to the protection of St. Michael in July 2013. They certainly could use that protection in the way that the Pope and the Vatican are beset, besieged and attacked with news stories based exclusively on opinion or speculation. Some of the stories relying on remote or anonymous sources. News that we take at face value, without question because of a deliberate bias against the Vatican or Pope Francis himself. Many are choosing not to trust them right now and will nit pick news stories to find the smallest tidbit to hold against them to prove, justify and promote that mistrust.

Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in God's commands...The shall not fear an ill report; their hearts are steadfast, trusting the Lord. Ps 112:1, 7

 Someone steps forward and says they are a childhood friend of the Pope and leaks a bombshell to the press that the two main concerns, the priorities of this papacy, is to overturn the archaic notion of priestly celibacy and give communion to the divorced and remarried. He also reveals that the Holy Father then gave a dispensation for the reception of Communion to a women living in a situation of cohabitation. Everybody is shocked and shaken that this indicates the Pope's agenda to change doctrine. They herald this message of doom and gloom without once questioning the credibility of the source, the inconsistency of the claim or the fact that there is no way to collaborate or substantiate the story. Because it fits the bias that they want to promote. Never mind that the Pope has indicated himself that one of his priorities is to evangelize the Gospel message especially to the peripheries and the marginalized. Never mind the reforming of the Curia, Never mind the plight of Christians facing martyrdom in various areas of the world. Never mind the myriad difficulties the family faces that he found so urgent that he called a Synod to address them. And the list goes on an on. Never mind all of that because according to the best friend of the Pope, (who by the way is close enough to the Pope to know his mind and be in his confidence but does not seem to mind risking that friendship and confidence by revealing private conversations to the press) they had a conversation six months ago (which he is just now getting around to telling us about) that indicated otherwise. Oh and by the way the Pope said somebody could have Communion who really wasn't supposed to according to the teachings of the Church. Never mind that if the Pope were to give that kind of dispensation to someone he would probably  document it in some way with at least a note to their pastor so that they would not face resistance in receiving their dispensation. We seem to believe that the Pope is going around saying "Sure, go ahead. Tell them the Pope sent you" without giving them something to verify it. Or am I the only one who thinks of this stuff? We certainly do believe, fear and sometimes revel in ill reports.

Oh we make one another cry, break a heart then we say goodbye
Cross our hearts and we hope to die
that the other was to blame

There have been quite a few ill reports centering on the Extraordinary Synod last October and leading up to the one in October of this year. The more progressive Catholics are hoping that it will bring a change in doctrine while some traditionalist Catholics fear that it will bring a change in practice that is tantamount to a change in doctrine. Never mind that something like that is not even the purpose of a Synod. The Synod is an assembly of bishops from around the world who assist the Holy Father by providing counsel on important questions facing the Church in a manner that preserves the Church's teaching and strengthens her internal discipline. Pope Francis has recently warned against disproportionate expectations of change leading into the Synod. Funny thing, but we have spent so much time arguing the doctrine (that some hope to change and others fear will change but which in fact never can change) that we have been completely and utterly distracted from thoroughly examining the issues themselves. Or reaching any real solutions regarding them. And in the end if the faithful do not become disenchanted and disheartened in the Church because of the ill reports they most certainly will become disheartened if the Church is disabled from finding practical solutions to assist them in living out an authentic faith in the face of modern issues facing the family. Yep, if my agenda were to disable the Synod, and possibly the papacy as well, that's exactly how I would play it. And no matter which side you are on, the other guy will be to blame.

People have asked the Holy Father to clarify church teaching regarding certain matters. He has in fact made many statements that are clear regarding doctrine. The doctrine itself is clear. We are just not following it. And, quite frankly, no matter how clear the clarification, there would be some on both sides of the spectrum that would insist that he had not made it clear. What I think people are actually demanding is not that Pope Francis clarify teaching but that he clarify his position as being orthodox concerning teaching. Which he has done as well but we aren't listening or it isn't getting reported. There is no drama or sensation created by reporting that the Pope is indeed Catholic. In a recent interview our Holy Father has said that the sacraments aren't a "badge of honor". He expressed that those in second marriages are called to reinstate themselves into the life of the Church. "Some people simplify it, saying that going to church is enough to give Communion for the divorced and remarried," he said. "But with that you don't solve anything. What the Church wants is for you to be part of the Church's life." Many of the articles don't even carry that quote being more attracted by the headline that the Holy Father said his papacy may be short. Or nit picking to criticize a joke that he made.

Some have suggested that the Synod is a charade. Merely a shill so we won't notice a stealth attempt to undermine Church teaching. They have wondered if the Holy Father has stacked the deck of the Synod in order to do so. When in fact he has begun balancing the deck in favor of upholding doctrine with the addition of South African Cardinal Wilfid Napier to the leadership of the next Synod. As well as the recent addition of the Vice-president and professor of sacramental theology of the John Paul II Institute on Marriage as an adviser to the next Synod. Marriage and family are at the core of th study of the JPII institute's scholars who have openly opposed recent proposals regarding the divorced and the remarried. Is it at all possible that the Holy Father's intent in assembling the Synod was to legitimately examine how to confront modern problems in the light of Catholic teaching? How best to assist the faithful in living out those teachings daily in a demonstrable way? How to productively evangelize the Gospel and those teachings to unbelievers and those separated from the Church?  That he might recognize that as a shepherd he is tasked with not only guaranteeing the integrity of those teachings but with the pastoral transmission of those teachings into concrete realities? 

Look around tell me what you see. What's happening to you and me? 
God grant me the serenity to remember who I am

Some Catholics do be crazy. Some be trippin'. Some may be playing games to deliberately shift the power structure of the Church. So that in the end they will have the power to determine what the Church should look like be it one extreme or the other. And woe to anyone, pope or otherwise, who stands in their way. This is a trap that must be avoided. With steadfast hearts we put our faith in the Lord and in the Church he has established. We remember not only who we are but who he is and the divine assistance he has promised through the Holy Spirit. Remember as well the rock on which the Church has solidly been set. So that when the floods come and the winds blow and buffet it, what has been set solidly on rock will not collapse.

That's just my opinion. For what it's worth

"Games People Play"  written, composed and performed by American singer-songwriter Joe South, released 1968.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Saga of Father Thomas Rosica and David Domet

As a blogger I often peruse the internet looking for all things Catholic. I have followed certain stories and read many blog posts. I have noticed certain patterns in how we relate to each other as Catholics, how some of us react to situations we read about and how all of this may be coloring, possibly even clouding our perceptions of what is going on in the Church right now. I have seen how in certain ways these things could be damaging to the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ.

The tag line of this particular blog is from a 60's song by Buffalo Springfield called "For What It's Worth".

There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear...It's time to stop, hey, what's that sound, everybody look what's going down. 

I had planned to write a series of posts that took a look at some of the stories I have been following from the perspective of asking the question, is there something happening here? Something that may not be clearly apparent at first? Is it time to stop and examine what's been going down, to maybe take a good hard look at ourselves?

One of the stories I had planned to devote a couple of posts to was the story of Father Rosica and David Domet. There is a lot to cover concerning that story, and what I have observed in the reactions to it, that just couldn't be properly covered in just one blog. I found, however, that it might be necessary to first tell the story. For some reason, when this story broke, I found myself wanting to look into things myself rather than taking the reports at face value and following in the direction the initial reports were trying to lead me. My concerns with this story are not due to any support of Father Rosica. Rather, I write this story to bring a balance and integrity that may have been lacking in the narrative due to a somewhat sensational, reactionary response of Catholic media and the blogosphere.

Father Thomas Rosica is a Canadian Catholic priest. He is the CEO of Canada's Salt + Light Television network. He is also the English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office. David Domet is a blogger from Canada who writes the blog Vox Cantoris. Mr Domet has written several blog posts that were critical of some of Father Rosica's statements and actions. Recently, Father Rosica issued a cease and desist letter, through his lawyers, against Mr. Domet. The letter stated that Domet made false and defamatory statements against Fr. Rosica and expressed the possibility of future litigation. Michael Voris and CMTV broke the story. Certain circles of the internet lit up with protest, support for David Domet and condemnation for Father Rosica, implicating the Vatican as well. That's the nutshell version.

Most of the background for the long version I got from reading Mr. Domet's blog, Vox Cantoris.  It seems the original focus of his blog was to advocate the traditional liturgy and traditional liturgical music. He basically sticks to posts relating to that premise for the first few years of his blog. His posts averaged anywhere between one a month to several. He writes about the liturgy. He writes about being sympathetic to the situation of the SSPX. He writes about Summorum Pontificum. He expresses respect and affection for Pope Benedict XVI. On occasion he writes a post that is critical of an individual and the tone of those post could be described as derisive. His rate of posting saw a dramatic increase from around the Synod until the present with 41 posts in October, 51 in November, 27 in December, 37 in Jan and 35 in February. Many of them critical of the Synod, Pope Francis, certain members of the Synod, as well of Father Rosica.

Mr. Domet states in his blog that he has had personal experience with Father Rosica going back 20 years. He posts his first criticism of Father Rosica in April 2010. There has been no other individual that Mr. Domet has criticized as many times as he has criticized either Father Rosica or Salt + Light. Many people have wondered why Father Rosica did not write to Mr. Domet to say "David, don't do me like that." Well, it seems that he may have, at least in the past. Mr. Domet makes more than one reference to receiving emails from Father Roscia that he describes as nasty and unbecoming of  a priest. He also makes reference to twitter exchanges. Communications may have broken down at some point, however. Mr. Domet indicates that he was blocked from Father Rosica's twitter.

So why all the detail here? Because there has been much speculation concerning the nature of the action Father Rosica took against David Domet. Speculation associating that action with a stealth attempt by the Vatican to silence bloggers. A "shot across the bow" is how I have seen it described. What I see going on is that there was tension between these two men going back for years and that tension accelerated and intensified over the time of the Synod. Any other implication does not seem to be justified by these details and may indeed be an exaggeration of the facts. It seems that this action was taken not because Mr, Domet dared to express his opinion or that he dared to express an opinion that was critical of the hierarchy. This action was taken because of the WAY that Mr. Domet expressed his opinion concerning Fr. Rosica. In other words, you can have an opinion, you can even have an opinion contrary to some in the Church. You can even express that opinion in any tone that you would like. What we can't do is express that opinion in a way that defames someone. I do not see what happened as an attempt to deny freedom of speech, but rather a question of whether or not that freedom had been misused. Fr. Rosica obviously thought that a line had been crossed in that regard. That is why he took the action that he did

The supporters of Mr. Domet insist that he merely used Fr. Rosica's own words and public statements to expose Fr. Rosica's error. This is true. He did repeat Fr. Rosica's exact words in the my-comments-in-red-fashion that is so frequently used on the internet. What wasn't reported was the mocking way that he spoke of Fr. Rosica; that he openly told people to cancel their Salt + Light subscriptions; when blocked from Fr. Rosica's twitter account, Mr. Domet expressed that there was more than one way to access a twitter account with today's technology. This implies an intention to continue twitter confrontations despite Fr. Rosica's desire to discontinue them. None of this necessarily justifies a lawsuit but it indicates that the postings went beyond mere reasoned correction and contributed to the escalation between them.

The letter. Otherwise repeatedly referred to as the "threatening letter" in many reports. I imagine David Domet did feel threatened and intimidated when he received that letter. It is certainly disconcerting to receive letters from lawyers telling us that we could be facing some sort of legal action. The letter was, in fact your standard cease and desist letter. Stop what you are doing, remove certain offending posts, publicly apologize or we will take further action. The door is left open for future litigation even if you do comply. We're lawyers. That's how we roll. Father Rosica said in a public statement that he never intended to sue. The supporters of Mr. Domet. of course, refer to the letter and say that it clearly states an intention to sue, so Father Rosica is an obvious liar. Not so fast. The fact that he sent a cease and desist letter indicates a reluctance to sue. People who intend to sue just file suit. People who are  reluctant to sue send cease and desist letters hoping that will bring about a resolution without the necessity of a law suit. Just ask David Jenkins, another Canadian blogger who was sued by his Anglican Bishop. Mr. Jenkins has stated that he would have preferred the courtesy of a cease and desist letter. Rather, his bishop, Bishop Michael Bird, brought a suit against him for $400,000 and an injunction to shut down his blog. The case was settled after about a year and at great expense to Mr. Jenkins. Father Rosica did not bring a lawsuit nor any injunctions to shut down Mr. Domet's blog. He sent a cease and desist letter. It is not my intention, however, to minimize the personal impact the letter had on Mr. Domet and his family. It would have been a threat to him. My interest here is more in the public reaction in which the letter was magnified into something more grandiose in an attempt to publicly demonize Father Rosica.

Mr. Domet circulated the letter to certain friends. He says that his first action, as a faithful Catholic, was to take it to the Church. However, he did not take it to his local Bishop who would have been the one with direct jurisdiction over the matter. Nor did he take it to Father Rosica's superiors at the Basilican order. Rather, he wrote to a personal contact he had in the office of the Secretariat of State at the Vatican. Mr. Domet has not revealed exactly who this private contact was. Mr. Domet states in an interview that the response was the contact's "personal advice" and not an official authority. So it would seem that he did not submit the matter to the proper Church authority, but rather wrote to a personal contact for advice. When the contact indicated that he would need Mr. Domet to answer some further questions and suggested that Mr. Domet might consider issuing an apology, Mr. Domet felt interrogated and responded no further to his contact. Mr. Domet indicates that the reason things went as far as they did was due to the lack of immediate intervention from the Vatican, stating "The fact is, intervention could have happened on the first or second day." We will never know, as Mr. Domet discontinued correspondence when he found that further investigation would be necessary and he would not receive an immediate response in his favor.

Very quickly, the letter was forwarded by an anonymous third party to Michael Voris at CMTV. Mr. Voris contacted Mr. Domet and they filmed an interview. Mr. Domet has meet Michael Voris and has previously defended him from criticism on his blog. The day after Mr. Domet received the letter, CMTV broke the story "Vatican Sues Blogger?" The story went public and now became a matter of the court of public opinion. That court seemed to be in favor of David Domet. Blogs were written, opinions were expressed and speculation was rampant. Questions were raised. Was Pope Francis aware of this? How could he not be? Then shame of Pope Francis. And if not aware, poor befuddled Pope Francis who is unaware of the stealth skullduggery going on behind his back at the Vatican. Campaigns were organized to flood the twitter account of Father Rosica and the emails of his superiors. People wanted Father Rosica fired from his post in the press office of the Vatican. Freedom of speech was invoked. A story began to emerge of a powerful Vatican attempting to silence faithful Catholic bloggers from exposing an attempt to overturn doctrine at the upcoming Synod. Father Rosica was described continually as a "Vatican Official", a "Papal Spokesman" and while it is true that he works in a certain capacity at the Vatican, his action against Mr. Domet was never initiated through that position but as a private citizen. Even so he was portrayed as a powerful man, a bully, who unfairly targeted the little guy, an obscure blogger. Yet, at one time Mr. Domet stated on his blog that he received more viewers to his blog a day than Father Rosica and Salt + Light received in a month and previously had felt no intimidation at all, that deterred him from the actions he took against Father Rosica in his blog. He felt no deterrent of intimidation in even disrespectful reference to Pope Francis, as well. Nor did he indicate fear of intimidation when he declared a relentless public pursuit of certain Church officials on his blog.

With the support of the internet, Mr. Domet determined that he would fight the good fight to the point of personal martyrdom if necessary. Indicating  that to give any concessions would then effectively silence him in regard to speaking out before the upcoming Synod. I do not see, however, that being unable to refer to Father Rosica would then impede discussing issues that arose from the Synod. Issues. statements and behavior can be exposed, examined, discussed and debated without resorting to personal comments about anyone.

Father Rosica then released a statement that he had not been acting in the capacity of a Vatican official, that he had not intended to sue Mr. Domet and that the case was now closed.

Well, it would seem that I have concentrated primarily on David Domet. What about Father Rosica? Father Rosica who has made heterodox and even heretical statements, according to some, is a danger to the faith and must be stopped? Father Rosica who has resorted to court action in the past? It might appear that I support Father Rosica, his actions and his views. Not necessarily. If Father Rosica publicly makes statements that are contrary to Church teaching then those statements should be addressed in a reasonable and balanced way. Those who address them can even confront strongly, firmly and candidly. But that is not what happened here. Domet posted his blogs advocating and demanding honestly and transparency from his subjects. His position is that he was justified in merely shining that light on the words and actions of others. In all fairness that same light of honesty and transparency should shine on his public words and actions as well. He brought the story into the court of public opinion. He and his supporters are the ones who framed this story in the way that it was framed. They are the ones who drove this story in the direction that it went with, in my opinion, no attempt to bring balance, but rather encouraging a frenzy of emotional reactions, speculation and exaggeration. What I do not support is the direction that this story took. I do not support the seemingly deliberate implication of Vatican involvement with no supporting facts to justify it. I do not support the public feeding frenzy that resulted. I do not support the sometimes gleeful public flogging of Father Rosica no matter how wrong people thought his actions were. I do not support when an atmosphere of fear and mistrust is created

There's battle lines being drawn. Nobody's right if everybody's wrong...Paranoia strikes deep, into your lives it will creep. It starts when your always afraid, step out of line the men come and take you away

I found this direction to be unnecessarily damaging to the unity of the Body of Christ, deliberately damaging to the reputation of the Church and an attempt to cast doubt on the upcoming Synod.

Those who express themselves on the internet have the power to bring truth and clarity. They can bring the light of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. They can promote the teachings of the Church. They also have the power to open a Pandora's box and release a monster that can get out of control. So did something happen here that wasn't clear, that brought confusion rather than clarity? Do we need to stop, listen to the sounds and take a good look at what actually went down? Do we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and the monsters we can create?

That's what I plan to do in a series of upcoming posts.

That would just be my opinion. For what it's worth.

“Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness” Bl Mother Teresa