A reader writes:
Well. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me, and I should make clear up front: as the author of the homily in question, this really doesn’t bother me. As far as I’m concerned, the Holy Spirit owns the copyright to my work, not me, and I’m glad others can make use of the material that I post. In fact, one reason I try to publish my homilies on Saturday is so that people, if necessary, can use them on Sunday. I’m happy to share.
I was directed to your blog, The Deacon’s Bench, by a link on The Anchoress’ blog. As I began reading the homily posted for World Marriage Day, I was shocked to recognize it… because my own pastor had preached this homily almost verbatim during Mass on Sunday (and on Saturday evening also according to my husband). He even attributed your wife’s quote about praying together and separately to his mother.
It bothers me IMMENSELY that your words were taken and presented as our pastor’s (though he never said they were specifically his, he also did not acknowledge that he read your homily nearly verbatim), and that your wife’s quote was attributed falsely to my pastor’s mother. I am in a quandary how to handle this. A part of me wants to “call my pastor” on this, to confront him with the knowledge that he took someone else’s work and presented it as his own. To me, this is lying. And part of me thinks that the message is more important than who says it. On the other hand, this is the second time that I was directed to one of your homilies in recent weeks (the Anchoress is a big fan of yours) only to find it eerily familiar.
Perhaps you welcome others using your materials, I do not know, but I wanted to share that others are using your work without proper attribution.
However, what this pastor has done does seem to cross the line from “sharing” into the realm of “fraud.” I can’t endorse what he did, but I don’t know what circumstances led him to parrot the homily verbatim, even to the point of attributing my wife’s words to his mother. Maybe he just had a really bad week. Maybe he ran out of time to prepare a homily. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt.
But I also have to assume that, when I post homilies, these things will happen. My blog is just one of dozens of homily resources out there, and a lot of priests and deacons make use of them, for whatever reason, to help fill those seven or eight minutes following the gospel.
Ultimately, to my way of thinking, the message matters more than the messenger — but the messenger should probably be careful about how he attributes the message.
You never know what blogs the people in the pews have been reading.