TORONTO, March 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A Canadian priest-journalist has suggested in an article written for Canada’s oldest English Catholic publication that allowing plagiarist-priest Father Thomas Rosica to retain his academic and media posts would be clericalist.
Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, a columnist for Canada’s National Post and editor-in-chief of the Catholic Convivium magazine, wrote a March 15 column about the Rosica plagiarism scandal for this week’s Toronto Catholic Register.
“What’s next for Father Rosica?” De Souza rhetorically asked. “That’s largely for the Basilian order to decide and thus far there has been no public statement about that.”
“The challenge for the Basilians is to ensure a proper priestly response, a response that is suitable from a community of priests to a brother priest.”
De Souza stressed the difference between a “priestly response” and “clericalism,” which he defined as “priestly privilege.” He observed that any lay professor or journalist in Fr. Rosica’s position would have been fired.
“There is no doubt that students, professors and journalists with a far less extensive record of plagiarism would face maximum penalties,” he wrote.
“So it would it would be wrong to say that Fr. Rosica, because he is a priest, should be given privileges that a lay student, professor or journalist would not be given,” he continued.
Rosica is CEO of Canada's Salt + Light Media Foundation. He has also served as an English-language assistant to the Vatican's press office.
De Souza disclosed that Rosica had stopped sending a daily email of Vatican news to hundreds of journalists, citing a need for “rest and personal renewal”. The Convivium chief thought this indicated that Rosica will no longer “have a role with the Holy See Press Office.”
“The Basilians would have to take the lead on that though,” he added, “as Vatican standards for journalistic integrity are sadly lacking.”
De Souza was referring to the machinations of a former prefect of the Vatican’s secretariat for communications. Last year Monsignor Dario Viganò doctored a letter by the Pope Emeritus to give the wrongful impression that Benedict had endorsed a volume of essays about Pope Francis’ theology. When caught, Viganò (not to be confused with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò) stepped down.
“A communications chief cannot continue if he manipulates documents in order to deceive,” stated De Souza. Pope Francis, to the surprise of many, however, kept Dario Viganò on as “chief deputy” of the secretariat.
Repeating that a student, professor or journalist would be dismissed for plagiarism and adding that it would be “up to him to find a new path”, De Souza explained that the Basilians are responsible for Rosica and hinted that they should find him a new role.
“If the Basilians decide, understandably, that Father Rosica must be removed from educational and media work, that does not mean that he is cast aside, and hardly means that he has nothing to offer,” the Convivium chief wrote.
“To the contrary, a priestly response would endeavour to make his priestly service as fruitful as possible, for him and those he serves.”
DeSouza observed that the Basilians have apostolates besides education, and “that certainly a priest of Fr. Rosica’s experience and gifts could be of service to God’s people after his period of rest and renewal.”
In mid-February, LifeSiteNews discovered that Rosica had heavily plagiarized a speech he had given at Cambridge University days before. Other journalists and academics subsequently discovered that Rosica had plagiarized in speeches, columns, books, and even academic articles for over 30 years.
In response to the scandal, Rosica’s Basilian superiors released a statement condemning the fraudulent practise, and the priest resigned from the governing boards of three Catholic colleges. Nevertheless, the Chair of the Board of Directors for Rosica’s Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation, Tony Gagliano, declared that the Board had “unanimously pledged” their “support for the continued leadership” of the disgraced cleric.
Professor Joshua Hochschild of Mount St. Mary’s University is among the academics and journalists who are still discovering the extent of Rosica’s plagiarism. Hochschild told LifeSiteNews over social media that DeSouza’s response to the scandal was “excellent.”
“The DeSouza article is excellent and also balanced,” the philosophy professor wrote. “I hope it is representative of the thinking of others on this.”
“I like the firmness and gentleness of his tone, very pastoral!”
In Hochschild’s opinion, it would be appropriate to assign Rosica “to a parish or some other assignment that would involve primarily service through the sacraments.”
However, Christine Niles, a journalist and newscaster with Church Militant, thinks this would be an inadequate response.
“Fr. Rosica's years of mendacity, open praise of dissident Church leaders, and ostentatious, unrepentant promotion of LGBT & heterodoxy makes him unfit for the priesthood,” she wrote on Twitter. “Leaving his positions in education and media is a start – but not enough.”
Fr. De Souza wrote an earlier article on the Rosica scandal in the National Post praising the disgraced priest’s talents. The dramatic extent of Rosica’s fraud, which included misrepresenting his academic credentials, was not then widely known.
LifeSiteNews has been on the forefront of reporting the Rosica plagiarism scandal. LifeSiteNews has recently discovered, through a close examination of the text, that the Salt + Light CEO plagiarized extensively in his 2017 book The Seven Last Words of Christ. The introduction to the work contains phrases, sentences, or ideas first penned by Bernard Guy, William G. Storey, Joel Marcus, and Edmund Mitchell. The first chapter contains the unacknowledged work of Rosalind Brown, Gustavo Gutierrez, Bishop Eamon Murphy, Pope Francis, St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and the authors of the Roman Catholic Lectionary. The second chapter has taken phrases and sentences from the Notes of the New American Bible, the Rev. Peter Slofstra and, extensively, from a “Theological Stew” blogpost by the Rev. Linda Pepe.