We are grateful to the Catholic Channel of SIRIUS Radio for releasing to us the transcript of Fr. Rosica’s interview on Across the Nation with Veteran broadcaster Bob Dunning. The interview aired on the Catholic Channel on September 9, 2009. Several articles have been based on this transcript.
Bob Dunning: Father, you didn’t mince any words, and you didn’t name names, some of those who were criticizing Cardinal O’Malley and Cardinal McCarrick and the fracturing, really, in the pro-life movement. What prompted this?
Rosica: Thank you for asking. Prior to the funeral, we received numerous calls from a pocket of people who claim to be pro-life, some of them acting in good faith, but uninformed faith, and they asked us to invite or incite a protest at the Chancery of Boston so that the Cardinal would not proceed with the funeral. These same voices are the ones who are contacting us, in Canada, asking us to incite people to stir up the pot in the United States – which doesn’t need any stirring up, it is already stirred up.
Rosica: I made it very clear to them that our role is clearly pro-life, at Salt & Light television, from day one. The patron saint of our network is St. Gianna Beretta Molla – do I need to say any more what that stands for? And our wonderful documentaries that are in-depth on issues of euthanasia, on the handicapped and especially about abortion. So, it has been very consistent.
I refuse to capitulate to some of the nonsense – to be very honest. We have an agency in Canada functioning called LifeSite. It purports itself to be a news service for the areas and issues of life. I will say very publicly to those listening – it is not credible, it does not speak for the Church, it is not ethical, it is not honest. Some of the people involved are some very fine souls – meaning well – but they are wreaking division and havoc, not only in the Church in Canada but throughout North America. …
BD: Now, this is LifeSite News dot com…
Rosica: I encourage people to know that this is not an authentic instrument at the service of unity and at the service of the Church. It is causing division. For the 1/10 of kernel of truth that they purport to uncover (and there is truth in what they do) 9/10 is exaggeration. It is bombastic, it is derisive and it is divisive. So what they did, is took my blog off of our text, and off of our story – and I thought it was written in response to some of the real threats that we have received to stir people up – and the headline given to the blog, they pitted our television network against Raymond Arroyo on EWTN. Now, I never mentioned Raymond Arroyo in my text and nor did I mention EWTN.
BD: I will read the headline: “Battle of the Catholic Stations: Salt & Light’s Fr. Rosica rips EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo over Kennedy funeral” and then I read your blog and nowhere do you mention Raymond Arroyo.
Rosica: I think we have to be very clear and say that part of the work of Satan is to divide –
BD: Oh, boy
Rosica: …to pit people against each other, and they are succeeding quite well. I have immense respect for EWTN, we work together – we share our documentaries. I don’t agree with Raymond Arroyo’s blog that he wrote criticizing Cardinals McCarrick and O’Malley.
BD: Neither do I.
Rosica: We have to be about the work of unity. The Church is divided in many ways and it is not up to us to cast aspersions on pastoral leaders who, not only walk their walk and their talk, but carry immense burdens that none of us are really aware of. I am aware of a little bit – I work closely with the bishops of both countries – but to simply stir people up… If I allowed myself to be in the hands of a political party or particular faction or group I would not be honest to my mission, and so I took umbrage with anybody in media or public television who stirs up things. For them to say that I aimed everything at Raymond Arroyo – there were about 20 different people. Raymond Arroyo was the most public that they cited, which I didn’t mention in my article, but we all saw Raymond Arroyo’s blog. But we saw many other people stirring up – and priests especially who claim to be pro-life, causing more division in the Church. I think we have to be very, very careful of that. Bishop Morlino spoke very eloquently the past few days and other bishops have spoken but it isn’t enough.
My concern is – stepping back from the funeral, let’s look at the bigger picture. We have very serious pro-life issues over which we should be concerned as peoples of North America, not just of the United States, but of North America and around the world. Leading those issues is the very crucial issue of abortion: but abortion is symptomatic of a deeper flaw in the culture – a culture that doesn’t believe in life. The more that we are divided among ourselves, what kind of witness are we giving? And I think that is what this whole thing – my blog, my text – it surfaced deep-seated anger and hostility of people, mistrust of the Church, mistrust of the Church leaders – people wanting to set up a parallel Church, if you will.
The teachers of the Church are the bishops whether we like it or not and many of them do a pretty darn good job in the midst of very difficult things – many of them, like myself and others, fail. We fail miserably in our efforts and we get up and we try again but to simply set up this court of judgment is sinful and I think that is what we need to address, because our message for pro-life will only be credible if we stand together and if we wish life upon others. I had many people wishing my death, my demise, destruction and everything else. And I said to myself “And you are talking about life.” It has been a real lesson for all of us. We were floored at the hundreds of messages that breathed hate and wished death and also people delighting that Senator Kennedy would be in hell. I think that says something about we have more education to do.
BD: Which is what Bishop Morlino was talking about.
Rosica: I saw that yesterday and I have that on my telephone – people said that I should have been rejoicing and encouraging the damnation of people and this is very disturbing. It means that we haven’t done our work properly as teachers and pastors. That we really have to educate people. Otherwise, the pro-life ticket or label simply becomes a guise to do whatever you wish or say whatever you wish. Instead we have to really love people to life and to really convert hearts and minds of those in politics and those in any position of leadership.
BD: You wrote, “through vicious attacks launched on blogs, a new form of self-righteousness, Gnosticism and condemnation, reveals authors who behave as little children, bullying one another around in school yards, casting stones, calling names and wreaking havoc in the Church today. No one but their own loud crowd is really listening. We will never change laws and bring about conversion of minds and hearts with such behavior. We make the Church and our efforts for life look ridiculous and terribly anti-Christian. Sowing seeds of hatred and division are not the work of those who wish to build a Culture of Life.” Very well said.
Here, in the United States, we can argue about the numbers, but we would be lucky if there are half of us who are truly pro-life and now we have, as you say, the devil who is sewing the seeds of division, and you have the pro-lifers fighting with each other instead of taking on who we really should be taking on.
Rosica: That is exactly right. Let’s call a spade, a spade. The opposition, who doesn’t want to budge because of their political positions or whatever, look at reactions like this and it confirms them. The best way to convert minds and hearts is to sit down and to talk cold turkey with people and say look, these are the facts. This is what we have to do. We will be dismissed and not even politely dismissed as a bunch of radicals and fringe people unless we speak the truth with charity and firmness.
BD: I know, as we start the 40 Day for Life Campaign – asking if people are going to go out, are you going to participate – and they say they don’t want to be associated with people who are going to attack Cardinal McCarrick, or attack our bishops, I don’t want to be associated with those people.
Rosica: I think civility, charity, kindness and humanity – when they fail from the picture, when they are not present, we have a big problem on our hands.
BD: Where do we go from here? How do we solve this problem?
Rosica: What this has surfaced – this has been something seething and brewing for a long time. We have had a number of things over the last year which have brought out both the best and the worst in people who are on the side of life. I think we have a deep, serious reflection to undertake. First of all, what are our motives? Why are we doing this? We have to banish all tendencies from reviling and destroying other people and we also have to speak the truth. Bishops of Canada and the United States, they are deeply concerned about these issues – they have heroic efforts and wonderful people working with them and for us, for anyone who claims to be pro-life, to cast aspersions or to dismiss or discredit what the bishops are trying to do. I question whether or not they belong to the Catholic Church. Are such people Catholic? Part of our Catholic structure is the structure of the Church being united with the bishops and when we have people drawing up lists of good bishops or bad bishops, good priests or bad priests – this is sinful. Let’s admit and this is how the devil triumphs and this is how the opposition will win their cause.
BD: Boy, Amen to that, it is so true. I hear that all the time – the lists of bishops that we should be listening to and the ones that we can dismiss. Wow, these are people that have devoted their lives, 24/7 to the betterment of mankind.
Rosica: There are many wonderful human beings. Cardinal McCarrick and Cardinal O’Malley of Boston have been particularly so eloquent in their teaching and also so compassionate. I am no fan of the Kennedys – Ted Kennedy missed every turn of the way in his votes for life or what he could have done to prevent abortion, but he chose not to; but he also did some other things on behalf of the poor that cannot be negated or denied. What a tragic family. People talk about that being the royal family – but it is a tragic family. My heart goes out to them for the number of tragedies that they have experienced consistently. I found the funeral, not to be as language says, “triumph or canonization or beatification” – it was the Church at her best, commending a sinful soul to God, and I would hope that the Church would do that for all of us.
BD: Imagine the message to the world, if Cardinal O’Malley or McCarrick said, “I will not read this letter at the gravesite” or “We will not have a Catholic funeral for this man. We are not a compassionate Church.”
Rosica: This is a deep call or a warning if you will to the pro-life movement that we must get our act together. And I say “we” because I am part of it. We have to speak firmly and speak convincingly and speak with charity and if that is gone, let’s put up a shingle and say we are out of business.