Despite a frenzy in the conservative Catholic blogosphere, a high-profile priest who volunteers as an English-language assistant to the Vatican press office says he’s not planning to take legal action against a Canadian blogger who had criticized him, and considers the matter closed.
The Rev. Thomas Rosica, also a Canadian, said Wednesday he never planned to sue the blogger, and also insisted that he’s not a “high-ranking Vatican official” and hence there was never any prospect of the Vatican taking action.
The full text of Fr. Rosica’s statement is below, from Salt & Light:
As the CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network, I am not a high-ranking Vatican official nor a member of the hierarchy of the Church as erroneously claimed in several recent blogs. In addition to my work at Salt and Light, I have had the privilege of serving since 2013 in a volunteer capacity as English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office. I relate on a daily basis to hundreds of English language journalists around the world. I know that this daily service has been encouraged and appreciated by the Vatican and by hundreds of journalists all over the world.
I fully support the teaching of the Church and welcome Pope Francis’ invitation to the whole Church to reflect seriously on the foundations of our faith. The recent Extraordinary Synod of Bishops has invited us to mature, honest dialogue and conversation and to find new ways and a new language to communicate the ancient story of the Church and our beautiful, unchanging doctrine to future generations.
Mature expressions of differences are welcome. It is one thing to have differing opinions on church matters. However, there is fine line between difference of opinion and blatant destruction of person’s lives and reputations. Having been strongly advised to respond, as an individual and in no institutional capacity to the Vatican or to my place of work, to the continuous false, slanderous statements of a blogger over a long period of time that resulted in gross distortion, misinformation, many phone calls, letters and clear threats from callers based on the repeated false information contained in the blog, it was never my intention to sue, but rather to issue a letter to “cease and desist” the frivolous calumny. A legal firm, offering its service pro bono to us, issued a letter to cease and desist. No lawsuit was ever launched against the blogger! The matter is now closed.
Popes Benedict XVI and Francis have taught clearly that the Internet and blogs can be of tremendous service to the up-building of the Church and of humanity. They have never taught that blogs and social media should be used, in the name of fidelity, to engender slander, hatred, reviling and destroying.
In a world torn apart by hatred, terror and violence, often through the gross distortion of religion, we must be much more attentive to our use of social media and how it is used to unite rather than destroy humanity. Many in the Catholic blogosphere have contributed enormously to the spread of the faith, the defense of all that is good and beautiful about our faith and our Church, and the opening of dialogue among strangers. They are to be congratulated and encouraged. Others have chosen to turn the blogosphere into a black hole of vitriol, anger and profound sadness. As Catholics, the great privilege and freedom of expression and access to social media also have certain obligations of decency, integrity, honesty and charity that reveal who we really are as a faith community.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
Photo from Salt and Light Media