Is canon lawyer Ed Peters getting paid to lie
Is he doing it on his own time?
Of course, he insists that the opinions expressed on his blog are just his own personal opinions.
Look, as Ed knows, all employment in a diocese is at-will employment by the bishop (or archbishop, in this case). Bishop can fire, or cause to be fired, anyone he wants at any time. This is most especially true of the faculty at his own seminary. This is even more especially true of lay employees.
The whole point of having lay diocesan employees is to provide CYA for the ordained men. If anything bad happens in the parish or diocese, you fire the closest lay person and claim little to no knowledge of the requisite shenanigans. Failing that, you claim the lay employee acted without proper episcopal authority. Either way, if a lay person can take the fall, s/he does.
Like every lay employee, Ed knows how the game is played.
He loses his phoney-baloney job at Sacred Heart Seminary if he doesn't follow the archbishop's directives.
He is unlikely to get hired anywhere else if he has a reputation for not backing his own bishop's plays.
So, if the archbishop directs him to flay someone alive, Ed's personal opinion is suddenly and spontaneously likely to be very antagonistic towards the intended victim.
Now, any analysis of Ed's articles shows he's been actively trying to obfuscate the Voris/RCTV issue. Throughout the entire RCTV/Voris affair, he has worked hard to cover the bishop's... ahem... assets.
It's almost as if he had a hand in formulating the pronouncements, or was called in and given a heads-up that this was coming out, so he better have some good support for what the ordained men had decided to do.
After all, he spends his first whole post saying "this is a matter of canon law", an implicit appeal to his own authority as a canon lawyer. Appeals to authority, by the way, are the weakest of all logical arguments. That's the best he has to open with, which says something right there.
Even more informative is his "analysis" - he never bothers to define the most important phrase in the dispute "competent ecclesial authority."
Well, Abraham Lincoln tells the story of the man who had a green stump in his field. It was too big to pull out, too wet to burn out and too blessed hard to split. So, he solved the problem by plowing around it and pretending it wasn't there.
Ed's in the same fix. If he defined "competent ecclesial authority", we would immediately realize that the Archbishop of Detroit, his employer, is not competent to strip RCTV of the word "Catholic". Ed can hardly point that out on his blog - he would have to look for a new job if he did - so he plows around it and hopes no one notices.
He essentially does the same thing in his second post. Even as he spends a lot of time pretending to discuss "competent ecclesial authority", you will notice that at NO POINT does he mention the fact that his boss is pronouncing on a business entity which is not in AOD diocese.
The Archbishop of Detroit trying to strip RCTV of the word "Catholic" is similar to the Archbishop of Detroit trying to strip Notre Dame of the word "Catholic."
At NO POINT does Ed mention the fact that in both cases, the archbishop of South Bend might (rightly) take issue with the attempt.
But, if cakes are to be taken, I think his third post is probably the piece de resistance. Ed goes on this extended tirade about the Internet... as if it matters. Ed might as well have created an extended soliliquy concerning the difficulty of controlling the flow of books into various bookstores around the diocese. It's about as pointless. He knows perfectly well that it is the location of the publisher that is at issue, not the method by which the content is distributed.
So why does an otherwise intelligent man do this?
Well, as Ed also knows, if you can't awe them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.
God bless the man's chutzpah, he actually sends people to look for a non-existent canon on Internet distribution in a wonderfully veiled attempt to appeal to his own authority, or better, that of his boss.
It's a marvelous case of misdirection, and my hat is off to him for thinking it up.
Actually, of course, the Internet doesn't present any more difficulties to canon law than book distribution does. The Church solved the question of producers versus distributors several hundred years ago. Canon law deals with who produces the material, and doesn't spend a lot of time with how it is distributed, if only because the Church recognizes that She has no stinkin' control over how it is distributed and never will.
This, of course, goes double for the Internet.
So, if I, while living in Dallas, wrote a completely heretical book called "Catholic Interpretations of Scripture", and had a publisher in Tuscaloosa publish it, and if the publisher's name was "Incredibly Orthodox Catholic Books", the bishop of Dallas would still have no right to attempt to strip the name "Catholic" from my publisher's business because the publisher is in Tuscaloosa, not Dallas.
Even if the book showed up in Dallas bookstores, and even if I live in Dallas diocese, it still gives the bishop of Dallas no authority over a business in Tuscaloosa. Bishop of Dallas may have an opinion, of course, and it's lovely if he does, but that and a dollar won't get him a cup of coffee at Starbucks, no matter how much his canon lawyers insist otherwise.
And, of course, NO ONE is saying that either Michael Voris or RCTV has taught anything heretical.
They apparently take issue with it because it is (a) true and (b) not nice.
The Truth is not Nice.
The Truth will set you free.
Now, I'm sure Ed Peters is honest in the majority of his dealings, and many of them probably involve canon law. But in this particular case, he deliberately misrepresents the law in order to (a) make his bishop look good and (b) keep his job.
Either that, or he is a complete idiot.
And I'm far too charitable to think Ed Peters is at all stupid.
I actually feel sorry for the man - he's been dealt a completely rotten hand by his archbishop, and he has to publicly prostitute himself in order to keep his job and make his mortgage payments. All the other canon lawyers in the nation are looking at him, shaking their heads glumly and saying, "There but for the grace of God, go I." And the poor man KNOWS it.
Pray for him and his boss.
Ed has taken another shot at the jurisdiction question, but again drives wide of the mark. I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.
I'll ignore his repeated appeal to his own authority and cut straight to the meat.
Well, what passes for meat.
To be honest, I can't believe he even ran this one up the flagpole, but here it is:
"Is it seriously to be contended that a local Church has no authority over local Catholics writing, editing, producing, and promoting extensive media programming copiously labeled as “Catholic” this and “Catholic” that, if the registered owner of the enterprise happens, conveniently, not to be Catholic?"Well, yeah, Ed, that happens all the time. For instance, let's say a Roman Catholic is hired to work for an Anglican organization that calls itself Catholic - Anglicans do that, you know. They call themselves Catholic.
Maybe we should whip them or something?
I don't know.
Ask your archbishop.
I'm sure he'll have an opinion.
Anyway, the local archbishop may have something to say to that local Roman Catholic, but he has NOTHING to say to the company he works for that calls itself Catholic. Archbishop can't very well tell the company to stop using the word "Catholic" as archbishop has no jurisdiction the Anglicans recognize, even if those Anglicans live in Detroit.
But it gets worse.
You see, the last I heard, it wasn't a sin for a Roman Catholic to work for an Anglican Catholic, so I can't imagine what archbishop would have to say to his Roman Catholic subject... Attaboy! perhaps?
A compliment on the tie he wore to work might be in order.
But, as long as he isn't writing heresy.... what would such an archbishop say to such a Catholic?
And why would an archbishop waste time on this problem when he's got so many pro-abort politicians and parish staff members he could be correcting?
Ed, I don't have to tell you that the Code says:
"Can. 216 Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority."Michael Voris didn't undertake to start RCTV, so he hasn't violated the canon.
South Bend has no complaints about RCTV, so they have obeyed their bishop and they're fine, too.
Which means Voris isn't working for a company that is under any bishop's jurisdictional ban.
Now, AOD is publicly ticked off at Voris, but that seems to be AOD's problem.
Unless AOD wants to pretend that it has power in South Bend?
Yeah, good luck with that.
Let me know how that works out.
By the way, has anyone else noticed how careful Ed was to stipulate that Fr. Pavone's organization was not technically under the bishop of Amarillo's full jurisdiction, but he keeps insisting that RCTV (whose connection to AOD via Voris is a lot more tenuous than Pavone's) is nevertheless under his own bishop's jurisdiction? I just find that incredibly humorous.
Anyway, Ed is still sad, because Ed still contemplates a terrible prospect.
Terrible, I tell you.
"For that matter, what if Brammer were to transfer his interest in RCTV to a non-Catholic, or to a conglomerate, maybe one overseas, or if he or another utilize(d) any of a half dozen id-masking options common in cyberspace?"Oh, HORRORS!!!
Like that couldn't have been done a decade ago, or three decades ago or 50 years ago or even a century ago (apart from the ID-masking, which is no different from setting up a shell company).
How is any one of these, or even all of them together, a new problem, Ed?
Is canon law so fragile that it NEVER faced such a set of circumstances before?
Changed ownership of a company is a new one to you, is it?
Never heard of a shell company (Hint: it doesn't involve eggs. Really.)?
I averred before that Ed Peters is not a stupid man.
He obviously holds a somewhat lower opinion of the rest of us.
I would suggest to Ed that he get out more, but given how well his defense of AOD is going and how high unemployment is under this regime, that wouldn't be a nice thing to wish on anyone.
So, continue to pray for him.
The poor man seems to be running out of straws.