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Monday, January 16, 2012

But For the Grace of God

So, now that a most excellent time-line has been produced on the RCTV and Micheal Voris situation, the question naturally arises:

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."

Why not?

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?"
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.


Adrienne said...

Excellent summation. Thanks

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Mr. Peters, in spite of his low down actions, is more worthy of pity than scorn. It's his boss, the Abp. of Detroit who deserves the scorn for using a hapless individual who could be left without a career if he doesn't do what his bishop tells him to do. I'll pray for both of them, but I'll probably pray harder for Peters, becase he's just as mch a victim of a scheming prelate as Voris is.

naturgesetz said...

What a load of irrelevant obfuscation! Even if the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend is the competent authority, there is no claim that "Real Catholic TV" has received his permission to use the name Catholic. So whoever the competent authority is, RCTV is in violation of canon 216.

Tantumblogo said...

Peters claim that organizations must receive permission to use the name 'Catholic' is a new one, and one untried in canon law. It seems to violate the spirit of Canon 216, which encourages lay participation. The implications of having to obtain permission to use the term 'Catholic' are severe and go down a path I really don't think Peters wants to follow. I was shocked that he made this claim, frankly. Another canon lawyer was, too.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Wow, Bishop Rhoades, I didn't know you went under the nickname naturgesetz!

But, since you're the competent ecclesial authority in this case, and you have given an opinion, I guess that settles it.

But that's so cool that you would visit my blog!

Bishop, I would ask for your episcopal blessing, but we both know you can't do that over the Internet, so how about you just send me a Christmas card this year?

Traditional Christmas season ends Feb 2, so I'll keep an eye on my mailbox! Thanks for stopping by, Bishop, and a very merry Christmas season to you!

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Steve, I went to natrgesetz blogger page and it plain he's a sodomite from Massachusetts. Pardon me for being a little thick, but he really isn't Bp. Rhodes under an alias? This is just a way of ridiculing this swish's pretentions right?

Steve Kellmeyer said...


naturgesetz said...

"scotju" — The word sodomite means "a person who practices sodomy." If you knew what the word meant, and if you had read what I put in the header of my blog, and if you were capable of understanding it, you would have known that calling me a sodomite was false and you would be a liar, unwilling to let truth get in the way of having fun by insulting people. It's more charitable to believe that you wrote the falsehood because you are ignorant or stupid or both rather than malevolent.

Steve Kellermeyer — If Bishop Rhoades (or any other bishop) had granted the permission under canon 216, they could have stopped the whole thing by saying, "Here's our permission," and producing the letter. The fact that they didn't makes it reasonable to infer that they have no permission from any bishop.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Naturgesetz, that's not how it works. Bishop Rhoades doesn't have to justify himself in front of AOD or anyone else. He doesn't have to produce a letter, he doesn't have to do ANYTHING.

Rhoades is the bishop. He's the competent ecclesial authority here. Any other bishop can yell and scream, but Rhoades can simply ignore them.

Which is exactly what he's doing.

If Rhoades has a problem with RCTV, he goes after RCTV.

He hasn't, so he doesn't. And he doesn't need to show you or anyone else a letter to make you or anyone else happy. He's happy, and that's sufficient to satisfy the law.

AOD has a problem with RCTV, but no one really cares what AOD thinks. That's what pisses off AOD - they can't believe they are being roundly ignored.

naturgesetz said...

When I said "they" could produce the letter, I was not talking about one person, Bishop Rhoades. The word "they" is plural, you see. Plural means more than one. I mistakenly thought you would realize that I meant the folks at RCTV.

If Bishop Rhoades is the competent authority, they needed to get permission from him to call DCTV Catholic. If he ever gave permission, instead of just saying, "The bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend is the competent authority, not Detroit," they would have said, "The bishop of Fort wayne-South Bend is the competent authority, and he has given us permission, and here is the letter." Normally, official decisions are communicated in writing. If by some chance, the bishop gave permission orally, they could still say that he had given permission.

The bishop doesn't have to satisfy me, but if he granted RCTV permission to call themselves Catholic, it makes no sense for them not to say so. The fact that RCTV doesn't claim to have his permission leads me to infer that they don't have it.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Naturegesetz, you still don't get it.

RCTV doesn't have to show a letter to anyone about anything because no one of consequence is disputing anything about their operation.

Despite what Ed Peters says, RCTV is perfectly fine. If Bishop Rhoades thought they needed any special permissions to use "Catholic", he would call them on it.

He hasn't.

Obviously, he thinks Ed Peters is full of beans.

And ultimately, Ed Peters' opinion about how to interpret that canon is no better than yours or mine. A canon lawyers' opinion only matters insofar as a competent bishop implements it.

The competent bishop in this situation has ignored Ed, so that's the end of that.

RCTV doesn't have any reason to comply with YOUR request, because you are requiring something even their own bishop doesn't require. And who are you that they should care?

naturgesetz said...

If they don't care about what people think, they wouldn't have denied that the AOD was the competent authority, they'd have just kept quiet.

And as to which bishop is the competent authority, that is a question of canon law, and your opinion matters less than Ed Peters'. You don't get to decide the question. If Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Vigneron both think they're the competent authority, it not for you or me to say who is right. Their canonists may have their opinions, but even they don't get to decide.

So at this point, the whole question is unsettled.

But RCTV — which cares enough about public opinion to deny that Archbishop Vigneron is the competent authority — has never denied that canon 216 requires them to have permission from the competent authority, thus tacitly admitting that they needed to get such permission. And they have never claimed to have the permission which they tacitly admit they needed to get, thus tacitly admitting that they never got it.

And even if Bishop Rhoades is the competent authority, and even if he is untroubled about RCTV, insouciance is not the same thing as granting permission. In order to get the permission, they need to ask for it. Is there any evidence that they ever did so, even after the AOD called their attention to the canon?

My point is basically this: in what RCTV has said publicly about the matter, they have never denied that they need permission to call themselves Catholic, and they have never claimed to have that permission. This is tantamount to admitting that they need permission but they never got it. And since they never got it, at this point the question of from whom they should have sought it is really beside the point.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Oh, get over it naturgesetz.
They didn't deny it because it wasn't necessary.

To date, no one has made an accusation against them that makes any sense. Their refusal to attempt to make sense of nonsense says nothing about them one way or the other.

The RCTV thing is over.
They have been vindicated, AOD and Ed Peters are a laughingstock.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

naturgestz, I'm aware that you claim you're a 'reformed' sodomite. However, in spite of your claim of being a member of Courage, I have reasonable doubts about your claim of walking the 'straight' and narrow. Your link to that ridiculous "Always Our Children" paper, which authors such as Paul Likoudis have found to be extremely pro-sodomite, is a good indication of where your sympathies lie. and the general tone of your site would leave any normal person with a queay feeling. So, tough!, if you're offended!

naturgesetz said...

scotju — I do not claim to be a reformed sodomite. I never have been one. I nowhere claim to be a member of Courage, although I do recommend it for people who struggle.

It's unfortunate that you have so badly misunderstood what I have written.

As for the tone of my blog, I'm trying to encourage homosexuals to refrain from sexual activity, and one element in it is showing that it is possible to have feelings such as theirs without acting on them. But by all means, if it makes you queasy, don't read it. But I do still encourage you to remain chaste.

Frankly, I don't care what James Likoudis thinks about "Always Our Children." As I read it, it is totally in line with the Church's moral teaching, and it offers practical guidance in helping people, especially one's own children, and more broadly one's fellow Catholics, to follow that teaching.

FYI, here's a bit of what the Catechism has to say about dealing with homosexuals. "2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."

Did you get that? "They must be accepted." How must they be accepted? "with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." How accepting are you of homosexuals? How respectful? How compassionate? How sensitive? Or does the Catechism of the Catholic Church make you queasy? Do you think James Likoudis would find it pro-sodomite? Because it seems to me that "Always Our Children" is following the lead of the Catechism and spelling out ways of treating homosexuals with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.

Seriously, if you consider yourself a Catholic, you are called to accept homosexuals with respect, compassion, compassion, and sensitivity. It's not me telling you this; it's the Catechism. From your comments on this thread, I think you may have some work to do in this area to become a good Catholic where homosexuals are involved. God bless you and strengthen you with his grace.

Bayou Blogger said...

Canon 216 does not say PRIOR consent...but only consent.