Thursday, January 19, 2012

Leave "Catholic" for the experts

Mark Shea points out that Ed Peters is writing about the Michael Voris/Real One True Church Founded by Christ for the Salvation of Mankind Which I Cannot Name For Canonical Reasons TV situation; Mark has checked with his chancery about the name of his own blog, Catholic and Enjoying It, and been told, essentially, not to worry as the chancery has better things to do than become the Archdiocese of Seattle's Catholic Blogosphere Canon 216 Enforcers.

Of course, Mark then quotes Dr. Peters (.pdf here) as follows:
I don’t know how many small initiatives by Catholics use the word “Catholic” in their title nor, of those that do, how many have no authorization for it. Let’s assume, lots. If the Voris/RCTV matter is a wake-up call against slapping the label “Catholic” on every activity carried on by Catholics, fine by me. But, as a practical matter, I doubt that ecclesiastical authority is going to see grandma’s blog, “Catholic Cookies and Milk”, wherein she recounts what’s being read by the parish book club and how much her cats hate the snow, as topping their to-do list. If, later, though, CC&M morphs into a multi-million dollar broadcast operation self-appointed to expose lies and falsehoods among Catholics and throughout the world, I might reconsider.
Did we all get that? So long as Catholics in America use the word "Catholic" without express ecclesiastical permission to describe endeavors which are trivial, unimportant, not particularly educational, and not particularly representative of the faith in any terribly noticeable way, they might be technically in violation of Canon 216, but it's unlikely that they'll get into any trouble for it. But if Catholics in America wish to use the word "Catholic" to identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ and His Church in some mission, apostolate, or other faith-filled activity which they have begun out of zeal for the Lord, they'd better think of Canon 216 as some sort of combination between a business license and a franchise permission, and haunt the chancery until someone gives them permission to use "Catholic" in their name--and they'd darned well better get that permission in writing. Now, the problem is that chanceries being chanceries they've got a snowball's chance in Dallol, Ethiopia of actually getting that permission should the endeavor in question be the slightest bit more orthodox than the USCCB; and if the endeavor also looks as though it might be profitable, there's simply no chance at all--unless, of course, the chancery in question is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, or one of a relatively small number of other dioceses in America, in which case you've got a shot.

Just so we're all clear.

Of course, there's an abysmally simple solution to this problem: don't call yourself a Catholic. Oh, sure, in casual conversation you're probably safe, and so long as And Sometimes Tea doesn't turn into a multimillion dollar broadcast operation any time soon (ha!) I can probably leave up my "About Me" bit in the sidebar despite the renegade, non-Canon-216 approved identification of the blog author as a Catholic (perhaps by adding a prominent disclaimer that I don't speak for the Church, have never spoken for the Church, and that any similarity between anything I might ever say or write and actual Church teaching is purely coincidental, and indeed, totally inexplicable given the rotten catechesis dished out to my generation). Come up with names for blogs or similar endeavors such as "Liturgical Year Cooking" or "Real Live Rosary Renegades" and you'll be just fine; bury your Catholic identity as much as possible in any public works or activities, and you'll never have to worry about running afoul of Canon 216 or any similar law or policy.

Otherwise, we should leave the word "Catholic" alone, secure in the knowledge that it's being protected by our bishops in the proper exercise of their ecclesiastical authority. Why, just look at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which does not only have ecclesiastical approval for the use of the word "Catholic" in its name, but also has the full support of the USCCB for its charitable activities of community organizing, empowerment, and the funding of left-wing political activities! Of course, a few grumpy people keep complaining that the CCHD is funding stuff that, you know, really isn't Catholic. Stuff like an immigrants' rights group/CCHD grant recipient getting caught handing out condoms quite likely bought and paid for with Catholic money--which, it's quite fair to say, the Catholic officials at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development might never have noticed had it not been for a concerned group of people whose religion I cannot mention for canonical reasons who issued a report mentioning this agency (along with 54 other agencies engaged in practices contrary to Catholic teaching while still receiving largesse from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development) and its violations.

But we can trust the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to remain fully, devotedly Catholic, right? Why, they demonstrated their Catholic values by loudly dismissing the complaints the group already mentioned made about the other 54 agencies for such things as promoting gay rights and signing statements of support for Planned Parenthood. These shining gems of Canon-216 Catholicity assured the rest of us that the research American Life League did was outdated research and merely Internet research and thus not accurate (except for the condom bit, which was devastatingly and provably accurate) and that ALL is motivated by their hatred of Democrats, immigrants, and the poor and marginalized (except for unborn poor immigrant marginalized Democrats, of course). Which is not rash judgment unbecoming to a Canon 216 Follower for excellent reasons that will occur to me sometime after someone orders hot chocolate and electric blankets in this geographic location.

No, the Catholic Campaign of Human Development stands as one scintillating example of why lowly small-potatoes followers of Christ would be better off naming their endeavors directly in His honor. Leave the name "Catholic" for the experts, who prove to us time and time again that they know what they're doing.

UPDATE: Mark Shea addresses my concerns on his blog, and does so in a way that makes total sense to me. More on that later, the good Lord and this stupid migraine willing (yes, I've been having them a bit frequently; yes, our weather has been going like this: 52-68-52-77, which last is today's forecasted high, which explains things).


Anonymous said...

Do we get excommunicated, or what? A free exorcism? Sued? So, sue me.

I am a Catholic. I identify myself as a member of the Body of Christ with this indoctrination identity, and by the sweet Lord, am not going to unidentify myself, if I don't necessarily promote the position on an issue in keeping with the current version of Catholicism. I don't advertise myself as an Authority on the Church. If I did, that would be different matter.

I express my opinion as a Catholic, and not as a mouthpiece for the Church, though it's probably my duty to remind fellow Catholics of Jesus' fundamental teachings when others get too worked up about dotting 'i's and crossing 't's.

Occasionally I hold and profess a personal view not identified with the current opinion. Non-Catholics attempt to take me to task, telling me that I cannot believe something if I am a true Catholic. I'm afraid that someone else's problem, not mine.

(We're experiencing a cold snap here in the mid-east; nothing like huddling around the computer terminal and sending out opinions on a wintry day!)


freddy said...

Seriously, Erin, take a breath.

You have a right,I believe, by virtue of your baptism, to publicly identify yourself as a member of the Catholic church, or to refer to another as a Catholic.

The whole canon 216 thing is for the church hierarchy to deal with. For good or for ill, it's their baby. Not that the laity shouldn't do public head scratching when they see it done "for ill," but that we do have to recognize that our areas of expertise don't extend to scolding competent authorities and dictating to them how we wish them to interpret the laws of the church.

The Church tells me that as a parent I have the primary duty to see to the education of my children. If a priest should come to me lauding the local Catholic schools and scolding me for not using them, I have the duty to listen to him and the right to tell him politely to mind his own business. In the case of canon 216 the competent authorities should, out of respect, listen to the laity, and then deal with it according to the dictates of their training.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

When I was age ten or twelve, I had a typical propensity for that age of trying to trip up my teachers and other adults over minutiae to puff myself up over how smart I was. (Any resemblance of my present almost-58 year old self to that self-centered child is purely coincidental). So I loudly questioned my Presbyterian Sunday School teacher about why we recite "the holy catholic church" in the Apostles Creed when we're not Catholic. She looked at me very sternly and asked what the name of the church we're not part of is. I knew exactly what she was getting at, and rather meekly mumbled "Roman Catholic Church." The Roman makes all the difference, not to mention the capitalization.

Lutherans have amended the creed to "holy Christian church." but we had not. I'm not sure how canon 216 would have applied to my Sunday School teacher's discourse, but I think a fair number of Catholics would have approved.

I also note that Erin hasn't called her blog "Catholic." She has merely stated that she is Catholic, which is true as long as she hasn't been excommunicated or voluntarily chose to join some other church.

Paul E. Rondeau said...

Red Cardigan:

Someone once told me (with purposeful reason) that sarcasm was the lowest form of humor...even if raised to a fine art. (Besides, we can always claim we are speaking ironically which will send most people to a dictionary before they can respond further.)

So, I for one got a big smile out of your comments on CCHD as one example of leaving Catholic to the experts. We consider Michael and RCTV a friend and fellow defender of the faith.

Paul E. Rondeau, M.A.M.
Executive Director
American Life League

P.S. If would like to you join our Catholic Bloggers group and get pro-life news, Judie Brown commentaries, and action alerts, just give us call.

Christine said...

Exactly, Red Cardigan!

Well put.

Anonymous said...

I replied to you on my blog. You ask a reasonable question.

Mark Shea

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, Freddy, I'm breathing. Frankly, I think my problem here as Mark writes in his post isn't so much law as it is trying to reconcile my understanding of "law" with what's really going on. Thus, I read Dr. Peters when he says, essentially, that according to the law Catholics should stop slapping the word Catholic on their enterprises, and my head spins; then I read Mark's explanation of the difference between the Roman notion of law and the Anglo-Saxon one, and my head stops spinning.

In other words, being not just a Catholic but one raised in a culture which values the whole Magna Carta based law traditions, I hear the word "law" and I think: mandatory, required, and (since this is Church law) probably binding under pain of sin or something. Then I look around and see tons of little enterprises with "Catholic" in their names and I'm perplexed: are they breaking the law? Even technically? Is there some pre-determined time in purgatory for people who don't bother the chancery for permission to use the word "Catholic" in "Jane's Catholic Bookstore" on Fifth Street? Even though Bill now runs it, having inherited it from Jane who was his grandmother? Are all these nice well-meaning Catholic people breaking the law??

So Mark's explanation makes sense to me, and makes it easier to understand (without being a canonist) why some canon laws seem almost to contradict each other, or at the very least, to have extraordinarily uneven applications.

Red Cardigan said...

Paul, thank you for your kind words. I must admit that I do hope that Mr. Voris will set a good example for what Catholics should do when Canon 216 is officially invoked. Certainly it would be uplifting to learn of a peaceful and charitable conversation between the bishop and Mr. Voris, so I pray that we will be receiving such news in the near future.

Christine said...

Canon 216 is a canard if the archdiocese of Detroit has no jurisdiction.

I find it incredibly silly that certain internet Catholics have got it all figured out and are ready to accuse Voris of "disobedience" when even canon lawyers can't agree on the issue of jurisdiction in this case.

Red Cardigan said...

Christine, that's the sort of thing I'm musing right now--check for a post soon. :)

In any case, I'm thinking that it behooves Mr. Voris to speak to the Archdiocese if only to hammer out these questions. Now, if Mr. Voris is *trying* to speak to the Archdiocese and the Archdiocese is refusing to schedule a meeting (as some have said) then the obligation is clearly on the Archdiocese's part to make that meeting happen.

Christine said...

Michael has contacted the archdiocese SEVEN times to meet with them, and each time he has been ignored.

He has had a canon lawyer draft a very detailed response to the archdiocese's previous request concerning the name RealCatholicTV. It went totally ignored.

Suddenly, many months later, he finds out about this press release issued to the public. He found out about it the same way everyone else did--through blogs.

If you want the facts, please see this:

Even those who don't like Voris's style have agreed that the archdiocese has acted unjustly here.

Anonymous said...

The dilemma in the Voris matter seems simple enough. Being a real Catholic n'all, he could just go Jesuitical & switch to lower case letters, as in realcatholic tv.

Just means really universal, he could then explain with professorial impatience, doe-eyed innocence, or Gingrichian contempt, as circumstances warrant.