More on Michael Voris and “safeguarding ‘Catholicity'”

From canon lawyer Ed Peters, one month into the Michael Voris/RealCatholicTV/Archdiocese of Detroit standoff:

Canon 216 embraces “any undertaking” not just “any undertaking that seems to be heterodox”. Most of what Voris/RCTV produces would probably pass doctrinal muster, but that happy fact counts for little in the face of the undoubted canonical requirement to secure ecclesiastical permission before claiming the title “Catholic” for an undertaking. Consider: regardless of how safe an appliance actually is, a manufacturer mayn’t attach the UL approval seal to its product until UL says it can. Similarly, it doesn’t matter how orthodox an undertaking is, it mayn’t confer the title “Catholic” on its operations and products unless and until ecclesiastical authority says it can.

Further: some seem to think that, provided the ‘verbal content’ of a message is free of doc- trinal error, it qualifies, or should very quickly qualify, for ecclesiastical approval. Not so fast. The Church’s duty to safeguard the “catholicity” of the Good News is about more than making sure that a given religious message can pass a theology exam. The catholicity of an under- taking is not only about what is said, it’s also about how things are said; it’s about the balance achieved (or not) while saying it, it’s about what topics are chosen for treatment, and why, and what topics are not talked about, and why not. All of these considerations, and many others besides, combine to form, as experts in the media know, a unified message, and all of them impact on the Catholic character of content proclaimed as being really Catholic.

It is, of course, very difficult to incorporate so many diverse considerations into the planning for and operation of an undertaking concerned with, of all things, broadcast news, religious and social commentary, and opinions on current events and culture. Much better, I think, to leave human genius to work out such emphases and nuances for itself. But to expressly and repeatedly and prominently claim the title “Catholic” (nay Real Catholic!) for a significant media undertaking like that described above is to force ecclesiastical authority to take notice of that undertaking. Exactly as happened here.

There’s much more.  Check it out. The portion excerpted above is from a lengthy pdf you’ll find linked at the bottom of his blogpost.


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